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Cleveland continuing his career as a coach

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Cleveland continuing his career as a coach

Using his experiences at Arkansas, former four-year letterman T.J. Cleveland is making a name for himself in the coaching profession.

A point guard for the Razorbacks from 1999-2002, the Birmingham, Ala., native was a master of the pressing, and running and jumping defensive style employed by the Hogs under head coach Nolan Richardson and assistant Mike Anderson.

Now an assistant to Anderson at Missouri, Cleveland is teaching what he learned and practiced in Fayetteville.

In four years with the Razorbacks, he totaled 280 assists (2.4) and 226 steals (1.9) while averaging 6.0 points and 2.1 rebounds in 117 games.

He helped Arkansas earn three NCAA Tournament bids and win the 2000 Southeastern Conference Tournament championship. In the run to the SEC tournament title, he had six points and seven steals in the 69-67 semifinal victory over No. 10 LSU, and nine points and three assists in the 75-67 championship game victory over Auburn.

Cleveland averaged 8.8 points as a sophomore in 2000 and 7.5 as a junior. He led the team in steals as a sophomore (2.7), junior (1.97) and senior (1.93), and ranks fifth on the career list with 226. He was second in the SEC as a sophomore, sixth as a junior and second again as a senior.

He also led the team in assists as a sophomore (2.92) and junior (2.68), and in three-point percentage as a sophomore (.415, 49-118). He was ninth in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio in 2000 (1.52) and seventh in 2001 (1.77), and second in three-point percentage in 2000.

On Arkansas’ career lists for SEC games only he is third with 91 steals and fifth with 112 assists.

After earning his bachelor’s degree in communications in 2002, he joined Anderson’s staff at Alabama-Birmingham as video coordinator. Following three seasons in that role, he became a full-time assistant in 2006.

In Cleveland’s first season as an assistant and working with the guards, UAB led Conference USA in assists (15.6), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.22), turnover margin (+8.03) and field goal percentage (.453) while ranking second in steals (10.9).

He went to Missouri with Anderson in 2007 and in 2008 the Tigers were second in the Big 12 with 15.7 assists per game. The 2008 squad also set a school record for fewest turnovers in a season with 12.9.

As a prep senior at Birmingham’s Minor High School, he was named the Class 6A state tournament MVP after leading his club to the 1998 championship with a final record of 30-4.

The University of Arkansas’ Athletic Department recognizes its heritage and the countless contributions made by African-American student-athletes in all 19 of its varsity sports. The Razorbacks are proud to celebrate this great tradition and recognize some of the inspiring pioneers, great student-athletes and outstanding role models that have worn a Razorback uniform as a part of Black History Month.



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