Banks County longtime coach Mike Cleveland steps down

Mike Cleveland announced that he is stepping down as head basketball coach of Banks County after 9 seasons at the helm. Fresh off the Leopards’ second-ever Elite 8 run, he has decided that the time was right.

Cleveland took a program that had struggled for consistency and turned it into a powerhouse.

“I’m proud of what we’ve done here,” says Cleveland. “It just feels like the right time to make this decision for my family.”

Cleveland’s son, Carl Cleveland, just finished off one of the greatest individual careers in state history, as the Young Harris signee tallied 2,500 career points and 1,000 career rebounds.

“It’s time for me to just be a dad to Carl,” says Cleveland, who no doubt will be watching every one of Carl’s games for Young Harris.

Cleveland, who is also the Athletic Director for Banks, had predetermined that assistant coach Ryan Griffin would take the reigns.

“The cupboard is far from bare,” says Cleveland. “He has been with me and knows the system well, and he’s got some great talent coming back like rising seniors Dakota Orr, Pierce Martin, and Clay Gosnell.”

Cleveland knows that this program will be just fine with Griffin in charge.

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“Ryan is ready for this. He’s been a great assistant coach, and when you’re coaching, you’re not just coaching the kids, but you’re grooming the coaches too to be able to take over.”

Cleveland will remain in place as AD for Banks County, but knows that the direction of the program is heading in the right direction, as evidenced by its 2019-20 season that culminated in a region title and Elite 8 run.

“When I got here, no one expected us to win,” says Cleveland. “We have come a long way, and set the expectations very high.”

Since the 2011-12 season, Banks County has tallied 171 wins, which includes 5 20-win seasons, 6 straight playoff runs, 4 regular season or tournament Region Championships, and 5 Sweet 16 or deeper runs.

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“Things are brighter than ever for Banks County basketball,” says Cleveland, who is excited about the time he will get to cheer on Carl as a dad instead of as a coach, and enjoy the extra time with his family.

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