While many teams around college basketball have filled out their roster for next season with transfers, Carolina is still working the portal, to put together the best possible group for the 2023-24 season. The Tar Heels have already landed Brown transfer, Paxson Wojcik, and Louisville transfer Jae’Lyn Withers and are awaiting the decisions of Towson transfer Nick Timberlake who will commit this week, and Stanford transfer Harrison Ingram. In the meantime, Carolina is expected to host Notre Dame transfer Cormac Ryan, and as of last night, they expressed interest in Florida State transfer, Matthew Cleveland.
Cleveland has spent the last two seasons with the Seminoles, having started 38 total games for Leonard Hamilton. This past season, Cleveland averaged nearly 14 points per game, and over 7 rebounds, despite the team going 9-23 on the season. In his freshman season, he averaged 11.5 points per game and 4.6 rebounds, and he earned ACC Sixth Man of the Year honors. His three-point shooting numbers won’t impress anyone, as he’s a career 29% three-point shooter, but he shot 35% from behind the arc his sophomore season, up from 18% during his freshman campaign.
Cleveland was listed as a guard during his time with the Florida State program, but at 6-7, you would imagine he would play on the wing if he wound up in Chapel Hill. Carolina is tasked with replacing that entire position group after seeing Leaky Black graduate, and literally every other wing on the roster enter the transfer portal. Paxson Wojcik has the size to play the wing, but the only true wing they’ve landed so far has been Jae’Lyn Withers, as they wait on decisions from Timberlake, and Ingram.
The Heels aren’t the only ACC school involved in Cleveland, as rival NC State has expressed interest, along with Pittsburgh, Wake Forest, Miami, and Clemson. Hubert Davis hasn’t been shy in recruiting in-conference transfers since he became the head coach, having landed Virginia transfer Justin McKoy back during his first off-season, and now bringing in Louisville transfer Jae’Lyn Withers, and recruiting Cormac Ryan of Notre Dame, and now Cleveland.
You would have to imagine that Cleveland is high on the priority list for Hubert Davis and his staff, given his production at the ACC level, combined with the fact he plays a position of need. After a 20-13 season, which saw Carolina go from preseason #1 to missing the NCAA Tournament, there’s no denying that the staff has had a hard time selling the vision of the program to recruits, as Hubert Davis’s job status will be in question if the team struggles once again next season. But with All-ACC caliber players in Armando Bacot and R.J. Davis set to return next year, if Carolina can get the right blend of talent and experience, returning to the top of the conference, isn’t out of reach, and that needs to be the selling point to Cleveland, a guy more than capable than helping this team in more ways than one.
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