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Monday 03/24
California
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64
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Indiana State
71
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91
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South Carolina - 2nd Round
71
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69
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Alabama
83
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Ole Miss
80
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110
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Georgia
75
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87
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No. 17/15 Kentucky
67
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71
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Mississippi State
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73
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South Carolina
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71
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Missouri
86
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58
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88
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Missouri
75
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71
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Auburn
67
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86
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81
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Georgia
66
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TJ Cleveland
Position: Assistant Coach
City/State: Birmingham, Ala.
Alma Mater: Arkansas
Graduating Year: 2002
Experience: 2 Years
Phone: 479-575-6388
Email: tjclevel@uark.edu
TJ Cleveland bio
Courtesy: Patrick Pierson
A former Razorback and one of the best young recruiters in the nation, TJ Cleveland returned to the University of Arkansas in 2011, and is entering his third season as an assistant coach. An 11-year coaching and staff veteran since his playing days at Arkansas, Cleveland’s career path back to Fayetteville mirrors that of his mentor, Arkansas Head Coach Mike Anderson. 

A player for the Razorbacks from 1998-2002, Cleveland joined Anderson’s staff at the University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) upon graduation as a video coordinator and was named an assistant coach prior to the 2005-06 season. Cleveland joined his former coach at Missouri for the 2006-07 season and in five seasons with the Tigers became known as a tireless worker and recruiter as well as one of the up-and-coming young coaches in the college game. 

Following his fourth season with Missouri, Cleveland was asked to participate and was featured at Nike’s Top Up & Coming Assistants Villa 7 Consortium. He has since been featured at Villa 7 in each of the last three years (2010-13). 

Cleveland’s efforts with the Razorback backcourt were seen immediately, as the Razorbacks improved their turnover margin by 200 percent and moved from 101st in the nation to 19th in a single season. Over the last two years, Arkansas has led the SEC in both turnover margin and steals, statistical categories that are synonymous with Anderson’s “Fastest 40 Minutes in Basketball.” 

During his tenure with Missouri, Cleveland worked predominantly with the Tiger guards and his players flourished under his tutelage. In 2006-07, Cleveland’s first season at Missouri, he mentored Stefhon Hannah to Big 12 Newcomer of the Year accolades. Another Cleveland trainee, J.T. Tiller, took Co-Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2008-09 and in between and since there have been several Missouri players that either led or been at the top of the Big 12 and national rankings. 

Executing Anderson’s style of play from the guard position has been instrumental in the team success that Cleveland has enjoyed both as a player and coach. Missouri ranked second in the nation in turnover margin each of the last three seasons and led the nation in steals in 2010 (10.9 per game) and assists in 2009 (18.4 per contest). Cleveland’s last team at Missouri ranked second in the nation in both steals per game (9.7) and turnover margin (5.4). The Tigers also ranked among the nation’s top 30 in five other statistical categories, including scoring offense (10), assists per game (15), assist-turnover ratio (24), blocked shots per game (26) and scoring margin (27). 

Cleveland’s coaching career started at UAB where he worked his way up from video coordinator to assistant coach. In his one year as a coach with the Blazers, UAB advanced to the first round of the NCAA Tournament and ranked third in the nation in steals per game at 10.9 per contest. UAB also led Conference USA in assists, assist-turnover ratio, turnover margin and field goal percentage while ranking second in scoring, scoring margin and steals. Former Blazer Carldell Johnson ranked ninth in the nation in assists per game that year with 6.3 per outing, while also ranking 20th in steals per game at 2.6. 

During his time at UAB and Missouri, Cleveland worked with five eventual NBA players: Donnell Taylor (Washington Wizards), Squeaky Johnson (New Orleans Hornets), first round draft pick DeMarre Carroll (Atlanta Hawks), Kim English (Detroit Pistons), Marcus Denmon (San Antonio Spurs) and Phil Pressey (Boston Celtics). Cleveland was also a teammate of current Brooklyn Nets guard and NBA All-Star Joe Johnson and Charlotte Bobcats guard Jannero Pargo. 

As a player for the Razorbacks, Cleveland was instrumental in Arkansas’ run to the 2000 SEC Tournament title, the only SEC Tournament championship in school history. During Arkansas’ four-day run to the tournament title, Cleveland scored 23 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, dished 10 assists and had 11 steals, all off the bench. His best game in the tournament came in the semifinals against LSU where he had seven steals, the most by a Razorback against an SEC opponent in regular season or postseason play.  

During Cleveland’s four-year career at Arkansas, the Razorbacks compiled a 76-50 overall record and made three trips to the NCAA Tournament. A two-year captain, Cleveland led the team in steals three times in his four seasons in Fayetteville and currently ranks tied for fifth on Arkansas’ all-time steals list with 226. Cleveland led the Razorbacks in assists two times and three-point percentage in 1999-00. His 112 assists in Southeastern Conference games ranks eighth on the Arkansas career charts, while he is ninth in career three-point field goal percentage. 

As a prep player for Minor High School in Birmingham, Ala., Cleveland was an All-State and All-Metro player as well as the MVP of the state tournament as a senior when he led his team to the state championship. 

A 2002 graduate from Arkansas with a degree in communications, he is married to Ami (Watson) and the couple have twins: Caynen Thomas and Cayden James who were born prior to tip-off of Arkansas’ 2011-12 season opener.

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