FSW’s Kaiyem Cleary chasing his dream the hard way

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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Florida Southwestern Head Men’s Basketball Coach Eric Murphy is used to his players taking a chance on themselves. 

“You’ve got to bet on yourself. If you don’t believe in you, who else is?” asked Murphy. 

Wise words from Murphy and words that redshirt sophomore Kaiyem Cleary has lived by. 

“I don’t want to have any regrets so just go for it. I have nothing to lose,” Cleary said. 

Cleary, an athletic guard from Manchester, England, chose to try and obtain his American dream by leaving his home country to play his college basketball at Division II powerhouse Florida Southern in Lakeland. 

Only, during what was supposed to be his junior season in Lakeland, Cleary learned that Florida Southern would not start its season until the Spring and may not have one at all. 

So Cleary decided to transfer to Florida Southwestern and took a chance on himself. 

“It’s a risk. It’s a really big risk and people see it as a step back but I believe in myself,” said Cleary. 

It was a risk for sure but Cleary felt he owed it to himself to take the risk to chase his dream of playing for a Division I college basketball team. 

“Go for it and chase your dream,” Cleary thought to himself. “I was just thinking about if, in four years time, when I finish if I was still watching Division I I was going to have regrets.”

And now Cleary’s gamble is paying off as the FSW sophomore is second on the team in scoring this season and has now attracted five offers from Division I schools in the last few weeks alone. 

 “If he continues to play and bet on himself you never know what might happen,” said Murphy. “He might have the opportunity to play professional basketball.”

And that is proof in Cleary’s mind that betting on himself was never a bad move. 

“Coming here just gave me an extra drive. It re-lit that firing me,” said Cleary. “I might as well just reach for the stars.”

With a redshirt year and an extra Pandemic year, also, whenever Cleary does sign with a Division I team he will still have two years of eligibility left to play college basketball. 

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