Some high school standouts actually relish the recruiting process—what’s not to like about being fawned over by accomplished professionals?
Not Fred Cleveland. Leo’s highly decorated senior point guard made a visit to North Carolina A&T in October. He liked the Greensboro campus and the academic offerings, he felt comfortable with the coaching staff and the program’s Division I status, and he made up his mind.
On Thursday, Nov. 15, with parents Fred and Tina Cleveland, grandmother Annette Batiste and younger brother Cameron looking on, Fred signed a letter-of-intent to become a North Carolina A&T Aggie. With that bit of business out of the way, he can settle into his role as Leo’s floor leader as the Lions embark on the most anticipated season in recent memory.
“I really believe it’s a good fit for me, so I didn’t see any point in dragging it out,” Fred said.
Fred has to strain a bit to reach 5-foot-10, but his height limitations and lack of bulk have not prevented him from becoming one of the top players in the Chicago area. He won the Lawless Award as the Catholic League White Division Player of the Year as a junior last season and made first team All-Catholic League.
He’s on the short list of Chicago-area Player of the Year candidates this season after achieving All-State and All-City recognition for averaging 20 points, seven assists and three steals while leading the Lions to a 20-7 record, a CCL White Division title and a 13-game winning streak.
“I didn’t have a lot of offers after junior year, and there were times when I wondered if all the work I’ve put in was going to pay off,” Fred said. “But it has, and now I can concentrate on helping us have a great season, a better one than last year.”
North Carolina A&T, enrollment 10,341, competes in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and is coming off a 20-15 season. The Aggies started 0-4 this season, facing two Atlantic Coast Conference teams. The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Bears running back Tarik Cohen and basketball Hall of Famer Al Attles are among its most prominent alums.
“We are very proud parents today because we know how much work Fred has put into making this happen,” Tina Cleveland said.
In addition to being a basketball standout, Fred is an honor-roll student and a leading contender to become the Class of 2019 valedictorian. He has near-perfect attendance and a spotless discipline record.
“Fred is a high-quality young man whose contributions to Leo extend beyond the basketball court and the classroom,” Leo President Dan McGrath said. “The Cleveland family has been a great addition to the Leo community, and we’re glad Cameron is here to continue Fred’s legacy.”