Tom Izzo had a plan for Mady Sissoko this season and many doubted it. We all should’ve trusted the process.
After an exciting upset of the fellow blue-blood Kentucky and a scrappy win versus Villanova, Spartan Nation is riding high. Not only did Michigan State basketball knock off the No. 4 ranked Wildcats, but the overlooked roster is starting to take shape.
Many were questioning Tom Izzo for not getting a big in the transfer portal, and Tuesday answered that question for us. The coming out party for Mady Sissoko so far this year should not be a surprise given Izzo’s track record. Izzo has a laundry list of big men that made huge progress in their junior and senior years. The blueprint was right in our faces, and we weren’t patient enough with Mady to see it coming.
If you don’t believe me, take a look at some of the former big men that came through East Lansing.
Freshman: 11.4 MPG, 3.3 PPG, 3.3 RPG
Sophomore: 25.5 MPG, 9.9 PPG, 7.7 RPG
Junior: 30.1 MPG, 12.6 PPG, 8.6 RPG
Senior: 33.2 MPG, 16.2 PPG, 10.6 RPG
Everyone knows Draymond wasn’t a highly-rated recruit out of high school. He had a decent sophomore season, but during his junior year, he became the Draymond we came to know and love. He became the third Spartan to record a triple-double (Magic, Charlie Bell) and earned third-team All-Big Ten honors. Draymond ended his career as Big Ten Player of the Year.
Freshman: 7.8 MPG, 2.3 PPG, 2.1 RPG
Sophomore: 8.2 MPG, 2.7 PPG, 2.0 RPG
Junior: 18.9 MPG, 8.1 PPG, 3.8 RPG
Senior: 27.6 MPG, 9.9 PPG, 6.6 RPG
Hands up, I was always critical of Nix before his senior season. He seemed overweight and not very aggressive when he was in the game. It all changed during his lone season as a starter where a slimmer Nix was able to play more minutes and was more effective on the boards.
Adreian Payne (RIP)
Freshman: 9.0 MPG, 2.5 PPG, 2.4 RPG
Sophomore: 17.9 MPG, 7.0 PPG, 4.2 RPG
Junior: 25.6 MPG, 10.5 PPG, 7.6 RPG
Senior: 28.1 MPG, 16.4 PPG, 7.3 RPG
Adreian was a five-star recruit that started slow because of a reduced lung capacity. He had very little touch as an underclassman, but you could see the change from sophomore to junior year. Payne shot two 3-pointers all sophomore year, compared to 42 and 104 in the following years, respectively. He was also the Big Ten leader in free throw percentage in his junior year. Payne was second-team All-Big Ten during his junior and senior seasons.
Freshman: 6.1 MPG, 1.5 PPG, 1.3 RPG
Sophomore: 14.7 MPG, 4.0 PPG, 3.3 RPG
Junior: 20.4 MPG, 7.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG
Senior: 22.9 MPG, 10.7 PPG, 8.2 RPG
Matt Costello was a big recruit out of high school, but his Spartan career started off shaky. Like many of these big men, I was afraid this Mr. Basketball award winner was a bust. Matt was a solid big during his junior year, but it was his senior year that he became a standout. He finished his senior year with second-team All-Big Ten honors while also being selected to the Reese’s College All-Star Game.
Freshman: 8.7 MPG, 2.8 PPG, 2.6 RPG
Sophomore: 24 MPG, 10 PPG, 7.3 RPG
Junior: 32.1 MPG, 13.7 PPG, 10.3 RPG
COVID-19 robbed the 2019-20 team of Izzo’s second championship, and I will fight that til the day I die. They were there because of Spartan legend Cassius Winston, but also from the development of Xavier Tillman. X was Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and second-team All-Big Ten.
Marcus Bingham Jr.
Sophomore: 11 MPG, 3.6 RPG, 3.5 PPG
Junior: 11.5 MPG, 3.2 RPG, 3.5 PPG
Senior: 18.7 MPG, 6.4 RPG, 9.3 PPG
It may not look like it on paper, but Bingham made leaps and bounds toward the end of his MSU career. He had confidence and became an inside presence. He also developed a 3-point shot.
There are obviously exceptions where big men can be effective at the start of their careers like Jaren Jackson Jr. and Nick Ward, and there were some bigs that did not work out. Tom Izzo has been as great as he has because he can develop talent and knows how to prepare his team for the full season grind.
Sissoko will be added to this list when his career is done, and we need to give him a shot to do so. To quote the Philadelphia 76ers’ favorite motto, we just need to “Trust The Process.”