Early life and high school career

Early was born and raised in The Bronx.[2] After Early's cousin was murdered, his mom decided to leave the city and relocate to suburban Middletown, New York when he had been 14. Early attended Pine Bush High School in Pine Bush, New York before attending Mount Zion Christian Academy in Durham, North Carolina. The school is noted for its prep basketball programme which produced players like Tracy McGrady and Amar'e Stoudemire. Tragedy affected Early once again after his brother drowned in Schoharie Creek at age 32. This led to Early wanting to be closer to his family and attending Sullivan County Community College.[3]

Considered a two-star recruit by ESPN.com, Early was listed as the No. 102 small forward in the nation in 2010.[4]

College career

A 6'8" forward, Early was a junior college star at Sullivan County Community College, where he had been the two-time Division III NJCAA Player of the Year. After considering offers from major conference schools, he signed with Wichita State and coach Gregg Marshall.[5]

Early made an immediate impact for the Shockers, averaging 13.9 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. He had been named first team All-Missouri Valley Conference and the MVC Newcomer of the Year.[6] In the post-season, Early led the team to the 2013 Final Four in Atlanta. In the Shockers' semifinal game against eventual champion Louisville, Early scored 24 points and collected 10 rebounds in a narrow 72–68 loss.[7] He had been named to the All-Final Four team for his efforts.[8]

Going into his senior season, Early gained widespread national attention. He had been named preseason Player of the Year for the Missouri Valley Conference[9] and was named to the preseason top 50 watch lists for the John Wooden[10] and Naismith Awards for national player of the year.[2]

Early helped lead the 2013–14 team to an undefeated 34–0 record entering the NCAA Tournament, fitting the first team in NCAA Division I men's basketball to do so in over two decades.[2] Cleanthony put up an impressive effort in an attempt to help the Shockers advance to the sweet sixteen, with 31 points and 7 rebounds on 12/17 shooting. The Shockers ended up losing to Kentucky 78-76, ending their hopes of a final four repeat.

Professional career

New York Knicks (2014–present)

On June 26, 2014, Early was selected with the 34th overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft by the New York Knicks.[2] On August 1, 2014, he signed with the Knicks.[2] Throughout his rookie season, he had multiple assignments with the Westchester Knicks of the NBA Development League.[2] In three games for Westchester throughout the 2014–15 season, he averaged 20.3 points and 9.7 rebounds per game.[2] On March 25, 2015, Early had a season-best game for New York with 18 points and 4 rebounds against the Los Angeles Clippers.[2]

During the 2015–16 season, Early has received multiple assignments to Westchester.[2] On March 20, 2016, he made his first appearance for New York after December 29, 2015, having been out for nearly three months with a knee injury he suffered after being shot on December 30.[2]

NBA career statistics

Legend
  GPGames played  GS Games started MPG Minutes per game
 FG% Field goal percentage 3P% 3-point field goal percentage FT% Free throw percentage
 RPG Rebounds per game APG Assists per game SPG Steals per game
 BPG Blocks per game PPG Points per game Bold Career high

Regular season

YearTeamGPGSMPGFG%3P%FT%RPGAPGSPGBPGPPG
2014–15New York39716.6.355.262.7502.5.9.6.35.4
2015–16New York1729.1.300.267.7501.5.4.1.21.8
Career 56914.3.346.263.7502.2.8.5.34.3

Personal life

In the early hours of December 30, 2015, Early was held up at gunpoint and shot in the right knee while travelling in an Uber car. The attack took place after Early and his girlfriend left a strip club in Maspeth, Queens.[2][3] He had been taken to Elmhurst Hospital after the shooting where he had been listed in stable condition.[3]