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A college sports blog from The Oakland Press, dedicated to covering Michigan and Michigan State athletics as well as former Oakland County athletes at other schools.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mateen Cleaves will be remembered as all-time MSU great

Mateen Cleaves was inducted into the Michigan State University Athletics Hall of Fame today. It was without doubt a well-deserved honor. To me, Cleaves -- who's No. 12 jersey already hangs from the rafters at the Breslin Center -- is the best college point guard I've ever seen and is a top 5 college point guard of all time. His success didn't translate to the NBA, but what he did during his time in East Lansing is something rarely seen in college athletics. He willed the Spartans to that national championship in 2000 over Florida. Sure, Mo Peterson had a monster game and was clutch down the stretch, but Cleaves limping up and down the court on a severely injured ankle put his teammates in the frame of mind that they couldn't let themselves lose that game.
"He demanded excellence from others, while always putting the team ahead of himself," said MSU coach Tom Izzo -- who's son's middle name is Mateen -- in a statement released by the university.
Cleaves spot on top of my list as the best college floor general's that I've ever seen (keep in mind I wasn't around for Jerry West, Magic Johnson or Isiah Thomas) is a distant one. The list is below and is based on what they accomplished in college, not the NBA.

1. Mateen Cleaves, MSU
2. Jayson Williams, Duke
3. Jameer Nelson, St. John's
4. Raymond Felton, North Carolina
5. Steve Blake, Maryland


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