16/04/2024

Illawarra Hawks newest recruit Antonius Cleveland during his time the Atlanta Hawks in the NBA. (Photo: Chicago Bulls/Twitter)

The Illawarra Hawks have continued their busy offseason adding more talent to their roster with the signing of Antonius Cleveland.

The Illawarra Hawks have added more international talent to their roster with the addition of Memphis native Antonius Cleveland for the 2021/22 NBL Season.

Cleveland spent the last season in the NBA G-League, where he played for the Oklahoma City Blue. In his 15 games he averaged 15.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.3 steals a game.

He will add another strong three-point shooter to the Hawks, shooting 38% from behind the arc last season. Cleveland is also a solid defender with great presence, which will make him a dangerous two-way weapon.

Illawarra Hawks President and Co-Owner, Dorry Kordahi said Cleveland was the final piece of the club’s free agency puzzle.

“Antonius [Cleveland] has been plying his trade in high level basketball programs for several years and he was extremely excited by the prospect of joining us in the NBL,” Kordahi said.

“He’s a big, athletic wing and the type of player I think our fans will gravitate towards. He’s exciting, he’s fun, he’s highly skilled and he’s ours to enjoy.”

At just 27 years of age, Cleveland comes with a wealth of experience having been in the locker rooms of multiple NBA teams throughout his professional career.

Following going undrafted in 2017, Cleveland played for the Portland Trailblazers as part of their Summer League roster.

He was unable to secure a spot on their roster for the 2017/18 season, and therefore joined the Golden State Warriors G-league side, the Santa Cruz Warriors.

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Early in that season, the Dallas Mavericks swooped on Cleveland, signing him to a two-way deal where he managed 13 games, averaging only six minutes before getting injured and subsequently waived.

Following this the Atlanta Hawks picked up the shooting guard, signing him to two 10-day contracts before signing him to a multi-year contract. Cleveland managed four games with the Hawks getting 10 minutes on court and averaging 3.3 points per game.

Cleveland made one more return to Dallas for the 2019/20 season, signing again on a two-way contract before then switching to the Oklahoma City Blue for last season.

Illawarra Hawks Head Coach Brian Goorjian, who is currently coaching the Boomers as part of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, said he was looking forward to working with another high-calibre player like Cleveland.

“Anyone who shoots the ball the way he does and defends with his type of purpose is a welcome presence in my locker room,” Goorjian said.

“He’s another high-level guy with good basketball IQ, he’s coming off another good season in the G-League and I can’t wait to see what he can do in this line-up. Hawks fans should be as excited as I am right now because the front office has put together a very, very good line-up of players.”

Kordahi confirmed that with the signing of Cleveland, American import Justin Simon would not be returning to the team this season after being given an opportunity on the Phoenix Suns NBA Summer League roster.

It has been a busy off-season for the Hawks who have also added Travis Trice and Harry Froling to their roster along with re-signing Tyler Harvey in a bid to build on their success from this past season and capture an NBL Championship.  

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