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BG Falcon Media

The BG News
BG24 Newscast
November 30, 2023

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The name is pronounced “McCloud,” in case you didn’t already know.

Falcon guard Keith McLeod has been doing his part to make pronunciation guides unnecessary this year by getting his name written and spoken many times over with one of the best seasons in the country.

In the span of 18 months, McLeod has risen from decent underclass college player to NBA prospect. After rebounding from a slow start to average 18.1 points per game last season, he exploded into this season with a 33-point game against Ole Miss in the season opener. In 29 regular season games, McLeod broke 30 points nine times, 29 points once and 28 points twice. His scorebook pinnacle came against Buffalo Jan. 12, when he scored a career-high 42 points. His 647 points scored this season is fourth on BG’s all-time list, leaving him behind only NBA alums Howard Komives and James Darrow, and San Antonio Spurs guard Antonio Daniels.

“I did a lot of hard work in the off-season,” McLeod said. “I’ve put in a lot of work in my four years here, this is the last go-around.” McLeod has become legitimate NBA material. Scouts have lined up to see him play this year and one scout for the Memphis Grizzlies pegged him as a late-first to early-second round selection.

Daniels, the No. 4 overall pick in the 1997 draft for the Grizzlies, said he was happy for McLeod.

“I know McLeod. I wish him all the luck in the world. It’s good exposure for him and for our school,” he said.

McLeod finished the regular season tied with Cincinnati’s Steve Logan for ninth in the nation in scoring at 22.3 points per game. Prior to a drop-off toward the end of the season, he was as high as fourth.

He started to gain national attention as the season went on, culminating this week when he was named to ESPN’s All-Raftery Team as one of the three best clutch players in the country along with Gonzaga’s Dan Dickau and Duke’s Jason Williams. McLeod has made seven game-winning shots for BG this year and two more that put the Falcons ahead in the final minute of a loss.

“I guess you could call it a zone,” he said. “I try to do whatever I can to help us win at the end of games, whether its taking the shot or setting up my teammates.”

McLeod has made his reputation as a scorer, but he is almost as good as a defender. He has been paired against scorers like Michigan’s LaVell Blanchard, Ohio’s Steve Esterkamp and Eastern Michigan’s Ricky Cottrill this season and virtually cut them off from the basket. Like being a good offensive lineman in football, being a good defender in basketball is unsung dirty work that results from good technique, and McLeod’s technique is as good as any. Only coaches and analysts usually sing the praises of defenders, but games can’t be won without them.

Earlier this season, McLeod’s game was being compared to Williams, who is many analysts’ pick as the best player in the country. Both score and defend well. The only essential difference is that Williams is a point guard, playing with the ball and McLeod is a shooting guard, playing off the ball.

“I try to take it in stride,” McLeod said of the comparisons. “I try to stay humble and just play.”

Keith McLeod may be on an NBA roster in July. He certainly has the talent. The only question scouts may have is his size (6-foot-2-inches, 188 pounds). But with the dearth of all-around players in the league, teams may take any help they can get, no matter what size it comes in.

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