Athlete of the Week: Zach Cleveland

Cleveland is a three year starter for the Ironmen, earning First Team All-Big 12 honors as a sophomore and a junior. Last season, Cleveland helped the Ironmen win the Big 12 Conference Tournament, averaging 20.5 points per game and 12.1 rebounds per game. In addition to All-Conference Honors, Cleveland was named to the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association All-State team. This season, Cleveland leads the team in points and rebounds while suprassing the 1,000 point mark for his career. The Ironmen are currently 30-1.

Source of Inspiration: “For sure God. He gave me the ability to play basketball, so every time I put that jersey on it’s 100% coming from me because that is the least I could do.”

Favorite Memory of NCHS Career: Defeating the East St. Louis Flyers in the State Farm Holiday Classic championship game. Cleveland led the Ironmen with 14 points in the contest and was later named to the All-Tournament team.

Hardest Part About Basketball: “The mental part. [It is] definitely hard to keep your confidence in yourself but that’s the most important part.”

Biggest Strength as a Basketball Player: “Being well rounded. I am able to do a little bit of everything and play multiple positions which helps me a lot.”

Best Part of the Ironmen Basketball Program: “The Coaches and the culture we have built. [The coaches are] great guys who care about you on and off the court.”

Post-Grad Plans: Cleveland is committed to play D1 basketball at Liberty University  in Virginia. “I was being recruited by a lot of schools and was able to go out and visit some. Liberty stood out because of the people there and the values of their program. I was the closest to the head coach there and we developed a great relationship off the bat. They believed in me the most.”

Favorite Subject: English

Other Talent: Cleveland can play the piano

Favorite Pro Athlete: Lebron James

Why He Wears 32: It was Magic Johnson’s number.

What’s Next? Cleveland and the Ironmen begin postseason play with a home game against Pekin in the regional semifinals on Wednesday at 6 p.m.