College Spotlight: Cleveland enjoying breakout year at Young Harris

Dominating at the high school level rarely means finding success at the collegiate level. However, Carl Cleveland is finding himself once again as a key piece in the lineup after going to Young Harris. The Banks County Class of 2020 product may not have the same eye-popping stats as in high school, but he’s been able to make the adjustments to continue to be a big-time threat.

“The biggest adjustment for me coming from high school to now playing in college was probably the speed of the game and the physicality,” says Cleveland. “Coming in as an 18-year-old and playing against guys that are 23 or 24 was definitely a challenge in the beginning. The coaches really helped me change my body and get in the shape I needed to be in to be able to play in the Peach Belt.”

So far this season, Cleveland, who has been playing as a forward, is averaging 10 points per game and 5.7 boards. He stretches the floor, as he has connected on 5-of-17 from deep and has 12 assists. Even last year in a COVID-impacted season where he only played in 11 games (4 starts), he averaged 5.1 points and 1.9 rebounds. This season, he’s started in 4 out of 6 games he’s played in.

“It’s been a true blessing to be able to help my team at Young Harris in a positive way so early on,” adds Cleveland. “But I couldn’t have done it without the belief of my coaches. Coach Currier believes in me to be able to help my team and motivates me to have that mentality every day. I could not have asked for a better situation to be playing college basketball at.”

For Cleveland, it’s already been a great couple of years to this point being at Young Harris.

“There have been a number of great things I’ve already experience within my two years of being at YHC,” states Cleveland. “But the thing I think I’ve enjoyed the most, especially this year, is having a brotherhood with my teammates. The guys we brought in this offseason are not only great players but great teammates. We have truly formed a brotherhood and relationship that help us win games.”

To that end, the Mountain Lions are now riding a 3-game win streak. 4 of the team’s 5 losses are only by 8 points or less. With last season not counting toward his eligibility due to the abbreviated schedule, it was a year to gain experience and get acclimated to the college game.

“COVID made my true freshman year very difficult for not only me but my teammates and coaching staff last year,” says Cleveland. “Luckily, I was given a sort of free year and am technically a freshman again this year. I do plan on staying for the next 4 years and playing at Young Harris. We have an outstanding young core that will be dangerous in the coming years. I don’t see myself playing under anyone else beside the coaches here at YHC.”

That means for Cleveland that he will have a total of 5 years to do some serious damage. His career totals so far include shooting 54% from the field with 116 points (6.8 per game), 55 rebounds (3.2), 21 assists, 13 steals, 2 blocks, and shooting 39% from beyond the arc (15-for-38).

The balance it takes to play at a high level in college is hard for many to juggle. Cleveland has planned ahead for this for many years.

“If anyone knows about playing a sport in college, they know that it is a full time job and you have to really love playing your sport,” says Cleveland. “We spend multiple hours lifting, practicing, watching film, and training everyday. Luckily for me, my dad knew what playing a sport in college took and had already built this lifestyle into my life while I was in high school. The biggest thing I think that comes with the countless hours is you have to love your own process and love the everyday grind.”

Cleveland had an illustrious high school career at Banks County in which he tallied 2,445 points (which is absurd), 1,049 rebounds, 390 assists,116 steals, and 82 blocks. He was a 2-time Region 8-AA Player of the Year, 2-time BLITZ Player of the Year, and was an All-State player 3 times. He was a part of nearly 100 wins for the Leopards, guiding the team to 3 region titles, 2 Sweet 16s, and an Elite 8.

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College Spotlight Framed Print (11×17) – Carl Cleveland

College Spotlight Framed Print (11×17) – Carl Cleveland

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