Assessing Antonius Cleveland

May 29, 2017

By Alan Lu

I decided to take the time to watch Southeast Missouri State’s Antonius Cleveland, who is a 6-6 senior swingman that has been getting some buzz as a potential second round pick for the upcoming draft.  With thanks to YouTube via Trey Kellum, I was able to see Cleveland play in a December 1st, 2016 game against Central Arkansas, in which his team won, 87-63.

Antonius Cleveland generally excels at scoring on hustle plays.  He is a solid athlete that runs the floor well, and he can get scores and free throws by making plays on the break.  He also can draw fouls upon defenders after getting the ball on broken plays, and he also will cut to the hoop.  He did so once to catch a one-handed lob pass, but he could not quite throw down a dunk as the ball slipped out of his hands before he had the chance to do so.

He also is a fairly good scorer off the dribble.  Cleveland is a patient driver that has an adequate first step to the hoop, and he is a solid finisher around the basket.  He managed to use a pro hop move past two defenders to throw down a thunderous dunk at the rim, and on this play, he showed that he is a powerful, two-foot jumper.  He also shows a good willingness to take on the contact to draw fouls upon opposing defenders.  But sometimes, he can miss shots wildly around the basket as he may try an aggressive first move and stay with it even if he is struggling to score on those types of plays in traffic.

However, he may need to improve his jump shot.  Cleveland has been showing more of a willingness to take jumpers, and has been making more of them lately, and in this game he made an open three off the catch from the left wing.  He also managed to make a contested, pull-up jumper from the mid-range area.  But he generally had trouble consistently knocking down threes and mid-range jumpers.  Also, Cleveland has a slow release, as he has to load up to get his shot off, which may give defenders more time to effectively close out on him.

He also may possess adequate playmaking skills.  Cleveland is a very unselfish player that will keep the basketball moving, as he may do this to a fault.  He will consistently look to find the open man, and he is generally a patient player that will get the ball to shooters and big men to set up scores for them.  However, he may try to make difficult passes by trying to fit balls into traffic, which can lead to some turnovers.  Other times, he may lose the grip on the ball when trying to drive to the hoop, as he may not always handle it cleanly.

Also, Cleveland showed a very good ability to rebound the basketball.  He is quite active at crashing the glass, and he can leap up to haul in many defensive rebounds, as sometimes he will push the ball up the floor in the process.  Plus, he also is a solid defensive player.  Cleveland can garner numerous steals and blocks for his team, as he really excels at jumping and tipping passes to force turnovers, and he also has the length, quickness, and instincts to reach in to poke balls away from opposing ball handlers.   Also, he has the hops and timing to swat shots on occasion.  Plus, he generally will make good rotations, and his ability to defend drives can really make it tough for his opponents to make plays on offense.

Sometimes, he can be a bit prone to committing touch fouls, as he can be overly aggressive on the defense end at times.  Another team, he ran the floor for a fast break opportunity, except he did so too early while a loose ball was on the ground, and the other team recovered it amidst the scramble and eventually made a three on that play.

In general, Antonius Cleveland may be an intriguing prospect for the 2017 NBA Draft.  He is an athletic 6-6 swingman that possesses solid physical tools, and he may have the potential to excel on both ends of the floor at the next level.  He will need to continue to improve his jump shot and be less mistake-prone on offense, and he must prove that he can excel against tougher competition in games.  If so, he could end up being worth a gamble in the second round on draft day, as Cleveland may potentially have what it takes to be an effective role player in this league.

Other Notes:

Central Arkansas’ 6-6 senior swingman, Derreck Brooks showed some skills in this game, despite not shooting the ball well overall.  On average, he profiles into a player that may have adequate shooting and passing skills, but he also showed off good athleticism and rebounding ability in this game.

He is a versatile scorer that can make jumpers both off the catch and dribble, and he has a quick release that enables him to easily get his shot off.  Brooks is also an active scorer around the basket, as he managed to score off of a put back.  He also is a good low post scoring guard that has the strength and body control to score on tough shots inside the paint.  However, he may struggle to consistently score on isolation plays.  Brooks did make a floater, but he tended to struggle to score in traffic, and he also had trouble knocking down threes in this game.

Brooks also displayed good playmaking skills.  He is a solid passer that has good court vision, and he made one terrific outlet pass off of a defensive board to set up a scoring chance for his teammate on the break.  He also is a good passer from the post, and he also can find shooters off the dribble.  However, he may not always catch passes in traffic, and sometimes his passes can get tipped and intercepted on occasion.

He also is a good rebounder.  He excelled at crashing the defensive glass, and he even made an impressive one-handed board as he did it so effortlessly on that play.  He showed the ability to get tough rebounds in traffic, but sometimes he may forget to box out, as his team allowed a put back score once.  Brooks may also possess adequate defensive skills.  He managed to jump a pass to get a steal, and he also contested a three to force a miss.  But another time, he over-helped in the paint, which led his team to allow the opposition to score on a three-point basket.

Overall, Derreck Brooks has not been drawing much, if any draft buzz, so he may likely go undrafted in this year’s draft.  Still, he may possess a fairly intriguing skill set, as he could likely end up in the D-League or overseas due to his ability to contribute in numerous facets of the game.

Southeast Missouri State’s 6-7 senior big man, Trey Kellum played well to help lead his team to a blowout victory over Central Arkansas.  He showed a solid ability to score on the break, as he runs the floor well and can finish numerous plays around the basket.  Kellum is also a high-motor player that can score on hustle plays, as he managed to do so off of a put back once by scoring off of his own miss.  He struggled more to score in the post, but he was able to score on a jump hook after using a quick pivot move once.

He also showed an adequate ability to rebound the basketball.  Kellum is an adequate athlete that has a great motor to make up for his lack of size when looking to grab rebounds in the paint.  Kellum can quickly leap up to haul in boards on both ends of the floor, and he was quite active at providing second chance points for his team.

He also displayed adequate defensive skills.   Kellum was especially active as a help defender in this game.  He has the leaping ability and instincts to swat shots from the weak side, and he also can poke balls away to come up with an occasional steal.  Plus, he will contest and alter shots to force misses, as he can aptly defend three-point shots as well as in the post.  However, he may not always make timely rotations, which can lead to allowing scores on occasion.

In all, Trey Kellum had a really good game, as he played very well in his team’s win over Central Arkansas.  Like Brooks, he has not been drawing much draft buzz, if at all, and he will likely go undrafted.  But with his ability to score on the block, Kellum could end up in the D-League or overseas as he may have the skills to be able to make it to either minor-league or professional basketball.

Overall, those are my thoughts on Antonius Cleveland, as well as on Derreck Brooks and Trey Kellum.  Thank you for reading.