Antonius Cleveland inked a 2-year deal with Maccabi Tel Aviv after having played for Hapoel Eilat last season.m for the next two seasons. The 29-year old was selected as the defensive player of the season in the Australian league and also won the Israel league slam dunk contest just this past spring.
The 29-year old guard attended Southeast Missouri State University and then went on to play in the G-League and the NBA with the Atlanta Hawks and Dallas Mavericks. Cleveland also featured for the Illawarra Hawks and was selected as the defensive player of the season in the Australian league (2021/22), a title he also picked up last year with the Adelaide 36ers.
Last year Cleveland checked in with 15.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.9 steals per game before joining the Red Sea squad. In 11 games in the Israeli league, Cleveland played over 29 minutes per game and contributed 17.6 points going 54% for 2pt and 40.7% from beyond the arc while pulling down 4.2 rebounds, handing out 2.8 assists and adding 1.8 steals. He was selected twice for the team of the week, once as the player of the month and in the All-Star Game he won the slam dunk contest.
“We are very happy that Antonius is joining us. He is a player who can do a lot of things on the court,” head coach Oded Katash said. ”He has great athleticism and defensive skills. He’s a very hungry player who wants to prove that he is suitable and can contribute at the highest levels. Of course, he also has a great character and is a good teammate, which is something that is very important to us”.
“Getting to Maccabi so quickly is exciting,” Antonius Cleveland told the club’s official website. “I take pride in defense. In Eilat I showed I can score the ball a little more and showed I can do that as well, but I think my defense is where I hang my hat on. The fans can expect me to play hard, leave it out there, play with passion and be a great team guy.”
To learn more about Cleveland, The Sports Rabbi spoke to a number of his foamier teammates:
Southeast Missouri State teammates:
Eli Sample: AC is an extremely talented player offensively and defensively. He can score on all three levels and is very tough to stop in transition. He is a great passer as well. Defensively he brings a lot of intangibles with his speed, strength and anticipation to make plays. I think his back to back defensive player of the year awards in the NBL speak for themselves. I think the thing that separates AC from most is the type of person he is. He was a great teammate and always remained humble. He’s a great player and person to be around.
Tony Anderson: I’ve had many teammates, but Antonius was my favorite. Even though we only played one year together, he was someone that changed my perspective on the game of basketball. He’s truly a different breed. He works as if he hasn’t accomplished anything, and remains humble when he does accomplish things. Off the court he was like a big brother to me, someone I could look up to and someone who always pushed me to be better. I’m extremely happy for the constant success Antonius continues to achieve, I’m proud to say that I played with him. I know the sky is the limit for him and I know that he’ll continue to be successful.
Marcus Wallace: Man he’s one of the hardest working dudes I know, honestly. The way he plays and how he makes you feel while you’re on the court is something special. It’s almost as if there’s a sense of calmness because you know he’s on the floor with you and he literally does everything. So in turn it used to amplify my game and just made playing with him fun but he is definitely all about the business!
Chad Brown: AC is a great guy, team player and a passionate player. He is a player that doesn’t mind guarding 1-5 and he can do it very well.
Kevin Young: He is super talented player I really enjoyed playing on the same team as him. Very high caliber player who can play offense and defense. Very well rounded player when it comes to offense. He can play above the rim as well as make 3s.
Aric Holman: He’s a very good person. Even better basketball player very passionate, smart, and athletic. Loves the game and loves getting better and winning.
Illawarra Hawks teammates:
Justinian Jessup: Great teammate, easy to get along with. Really wants to win and has a competitive edge and I think that shows when he plays. He’s going to improve every team he’s on.
Harry Froling: AC is one of the most athletic players I’ve ever played with. An unbelievable defender and plays to win. Great friend of mine and off the court is one of the best guys to be around, always willing to hang out, and go the extra mile to help team mates out with anything they need and even on different teams we keep in touch to this day and always catch up!
Mitchell McCarron: AC is an incredible athlete with a serious competitiveness to win. He’s a great teammate, and I’ve loved sharing the floor with him this past season. He’ll bring highlights every single game he plays!
Nick Marshall: Playing with AC was a lot of fun, his energy on both ends of the floor is contagious and he is elite at what he does. I loved playing and learning from him.
Hapoel Eilat teammates:
Amit Gershon: First off, Cleveland is not only an incredible player but and amazing human being. He changed the energy in the club the second he arrived last season. I’m sure that he will succeed in the Euroleague and he really wanted this opportunity. I’m happy for him.
Noam Avivi: I had an incredible connection with him from the minute he arrived and we became grant friends. He is a special person and a fantastic player who will surprise many people. I’m sure that he will be a steal for Maccabi.
Ido Harel: I believe that he is a Euroleague player. He’s a great defender, athletic and can run the court really well. I really trust him and I believe that this is a great signing by Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Ron Zipper who played against Cleveland said that the was the toughest player he faced in his young career: When we played Eilat this past season, Cleveland was a player on a totally different level with his athleticism. I had a very hard time dealing with his defense on me when we played.”