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The case for and against Jaden Akins going to the NBA

There are pros of staying and going pro.



Jaden Akins
© Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Michigan State sophomore Jaden Akins officially declared for the NBA draft on Friday. What’s the case for and against him leaving?

With rumors swirling in the Twitter verse ever since the Michigan State basketball season ended, we finally know the fate of Jaden Akins.

Akins submitted his name for the NBA draft while still maintaining his college eligibility. Tom Izzo all but assured us this would be the case in some of his recent conversations with reporters. The expectation is that Akins will likely test the waters, get feedback from pro scouts, then use that info to put himself in a better position for next year’s draft.

When speaking about Akins entering the draft, Tom Izzo said: “If after the process, he’s in a position to be drafted in a spot that’s best for him, we will celebrate his accomplishment. And if he decides that returning is best for his long-term career, we will immediately get to work for next season. We will take the information he gathers and use it to his advantage as he continues to develop. I’ve been incredibly pleased by what Jaden has done already, but l’ve got much larger goals for him. And I know there’s much more he’d like to accomplish as well.”

The current momentum seems to point towards an Akins return. However, in situations like this, there’s no such thing as certainty.

Akins has an appealing skillset that will certainly have pro teams intrigued. After all, it only takes one team to fall in love with a guy.

The 2022 season was a little bit of a mixed bag for Akins. He battled through a foot injury that cost him multiple games. After battling this injury he then had multiple games of trying to get back into game shape. Through it all, Akins left plenty of highlights on tape for scouts to look at as seen below in this highlight package from Spartan Hoops:

So what’s the case for and against Akins’ NBA status?

The case for Jaden Akins staying in the NBA draft

3-point shooting: Through two seasons, Akins is averaging just over 40 percent from 3-point range. He finished just over 42 percent this past season which had him top-four in the Big Ten. With the evolution of the NBA style of play, 3-point shooting is king now. There’s a spot on every pro roster for a guy that can shoot at that level. When that type of success not only repeats from one season to the next but also improves (38 percent in 2021 to 42.2 percent in 2022), it’s not a fluke.

Elite defense: MSU consistently asked Jaden Akins to cover the opposing team’s No. 1 scoring option. We saw him put on a clinic in the NCAA Tournament vs. Boogie Ellis, who was of the Pac-12’s best offensive players. Despite missing multiple games, Akins finished two steals behind Tyson Walker for the team lead. Just a quick scroll through Twitter will show you that a large percentage of fans believe Akins is too small to play this same type of role at the next level. To these fans I’d simply point out that Patrick Beverly has made a career out of being a fantastic defender — Akins is slightly bigger than Pat Bev.

The Tape: If you’ve watched the above link highlighting Akins’ season, you saw just about everything pro scouts would want to see. Spot-up shooting, midrange pull-up jumpers, dribble penetration, leading the pack in transition, athletic dunks, the list goes on. The tape has it all. The benefit for Akins is that he doesn’t just have one year of tape, he has two. When watching his tape back to back you can see the noticeable steps he’s taken in every area of his game. This shows pro scouts a dedication to doing the work necessary to improve. The sexiest word to pro scouts is “potential”, and Akins is oozing with it.

The case against Jaden Akins going pro

Minimized role: When healthy, Akins was a major factor for MSU and averaged over 27 minutes per game. However, Akins was fourth in the offensive pecking order. The question is, was Akins allowed to be as efficient as he was because he was consistently seeing the opposing team’s fourth-best defender? Pro teams may want to see if Akins can maintain his efficiency with increased opportunities and pressure. With Walker and Hoggard coming back and a loaded incoming freshman class coming in, it’d be tough for Akins to climb significantly higher. However, Joey Houser is leaving behind 339 shot attempts.

Health: Akins’ foot injury cost him time this season. There’s no reason to believe the injury he sustained will be nagging him in the future. Still, pro teams may want to see him get through a full season without having it flare up and see his ability to hold up against increased minutes in a physical conference.

Ball-handling: This is an area in which I’m going to have to agree to disagree. I personally don’t believe there are any concerns to be had with Akins’ ball handling. However, those that say he’s not ready for the pros consistently point to this area as one for improvement. The reality is, Akins isn’t a point guard so his opportunities to handle the ball will always be somewhat limited. Last season we saw Walker, Hoggard, and Holloman all play minutes at point guard. Next year, MSU will be adding Jeremy Fears to the group as well. Even if you think Akins needs to improve his ball handling, I don’t see him returning to MSU as an opportunity to address those concerns.

For the MSU fan that feels like it’s a foregone conclusion that Akins is returning, pump the breaks. I believe it’s more likely than not that he does, but Akins has shown more in his time at Michigan State than Max Christie ever did. Max was able to be taken at the front of the second round. I don’t mean this as a knock toward Max. It’s simply a reminder that it only takes one team to love a player.

With Akins, there’s a lot to love.


Writer says there’s a huge gap between Purdue and Michigan State basketball

This seems like a wild claim.



Michigan State basketball
© Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Gregg Doyel of the Indy Star claims that Purdue is “historically loaded” and there’s a huge gap between them and Michigan State basketball.

With the news of Jaden Akins and AJ Hoggard returning along with Tyson Walker and Malik Hall to go along with the No. 4 recruiting class in the country, Michigan State basketball went from a conference title contender to a national title contender.

Essentially everyone who follows college basketball has Michigan State as a top-five team and right there in the Big Ten as 1B to Purdue’s 1A — some even have it the other way around.

The Spartans bring back everyone but Joey Hauser to a team that went to the Sweet 16 and Purdue returns national player of the year Zach Edey to a Big Ten title team. Both teams are loaded and should be at the top of everyone’s list when it comes to national title contention.

But one Indy Star writer believes that Purdue is “historically loaded” and the talent-and-depth gap between the Boilermakers and “everyone else” is as large as he’s seen in years. Just a wild claim.

Gregg Doyel cites a solid incoming class to go along with Edey returning and the two freshmen guards with another year in the system. But he fails to recognize that Michigan State got even better. The Spartans are bringing in an even better recruiting class and they return their 2-3 most talented players from a year ago. The only loss is Hauser.

Saying that this year’s Purdue team is far-and-away the most talented and deepest team in the Big Ten and the gap is the biggest it’s been in years is asinine. There was a much larger gap last year.

Michigan State will go toe-to-toe with the Boilermakers and as long as Edey can be neutralized, the Spartans will have a chance to take them down for the Big Ten crown.

It’s tough to say a team like Michigan State basketball that’s 11-12 guys deep is not nearly as talented or deep as Purdue, but hey, let’s put that early chip on the shoulder.

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Michigan State Basketball: Allocating guard minutes for 2023-24

A lot of guards, not a lot of minutes to be had.



Michigan State basketball
© Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State basketball has an absolutely loaded backcourt heading into 2023-24. Let’s allocate the guard minutes.

Michigan State basketball has a loaded backcourt with the news of AJ Hoggard and Jaden Akins returning next season. Add this on top of Tyson Walker coming back and Michigan State adding a four-star point guard in Jeremy Fears just loads up this back court even more.

Let’s take a look at what the minute allocation could look like between the five guards on the roster.


The starting point guard is clearly set into place with AJ Hoggard starting 33 of 34 games last year. Next year’s team still goes as Hoggard goes and he will most likely average 28-30 minutes per game. AJ being able to defend multiple positions allows him to play alongside any of the other three guards on the roster next year. He should average around 15 points per game and six-plus assists. Him being able to increase his 3-point percentage up to 35 percent next year should help his scoring dramatically.

The starting shooting guard is Walker who started in all 34 games last season and nothing will change this season. This team is going to rely plenty on Tyson to begin the season as this team continues to mesh with all of the different lineups. He played almost 34 minutes per game this season due to injuries and necessity. Tyson will take a step back and only play 30-32 minutes this upcoming season. He will look to average 16-plus points per game and 2.5-plus assists.


This may come as a surprise, but I believe the backup point guard role will fall to Tre Holloman. He has a year under the belt with the system and should take a step forward in his role. He is able to defend either guard position allowing him to play with any of the other four guards on the team. Holloman will play anywhere between 8-12 minutes per game and will look to be in a more featured role running the backup offense. Tre should average 3-5 points per game and 1.5 assists.

Jeremy Fears will fill in and be able to learn from a loaded backcourt while playing 6-8 minutes per game which could be pushed to 8-10 by the end of the season. Fears defense should rival what Walker brings to this team with this second group. Fears offensive role will look like Tre’s freshman year and not looked upon much offensively. He should look to average 1.5-plus points and one assist per game.

Finally, Jaden Akins will fill in anywhere from 2-5 minutes at the two-guard spot. He can help fill an offensive role when Tyson is out of the game and can handle some of the pick and roll duties in this spot. Akins will mostly play on the wing as he started 25 games there last season. He is a guard, but he’ll be forced into playing on the wing.

Minutes Summary

  • AJ Hoggard: 28-30 per game
  • Tyson Walker: 30-32 per game
  • Tre Holloman: 8-12 per game
  • Jeremy Fears: 6-8 per game
  • Jaden Akins: 2-5 per game

Akins did tweet this out the other day:

So he could see more ball-handling duties.

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Jeremy Fears makes final cut for U19 USA Basketball team

Jeremy Fears could represent USA Basketball again.



Jeremy Fears
© Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Incoming Michigan State freshman Jeremy Fears has made the final cut for the U19 USA Basketball team.

Incoming Michigan State basketball freshman Jeremy Fears is hard at work this summer. He is currently in the process of trying to make the final roster for the U19 USA Basketball team. Thirty-five athletes have been selected to participate in their upcoming training camp, and Fears is included on that list.

Training camp for these 35 athletes with take place June 11-18. Twelve players will then be selected to participate in the FIBA U19 Wold Cup at the conclusion of this training camp. The World Cup takes place from June 24 through July 2.

The 35 players consist of some athletes in the 2022 class that have one year of college ball under their belts. The pool of players also consists of athletes from the 2023 incoming freshmen class and the 2024 class who will be high school seniors. More than half of these participants have USA Basketball experience and ten of them have won gold for the USA already.

Jeremy Fears’ USA Basketball history

Jeremy Fears is one of the 10 players mentioned to have already won gold for the USA. In fact, Fears has won a gold medal twice. He won the 2021 U16 FIBA Championships and in 2022 won gold in the U17 FIBA World Cup.

Based on this history alone, I love his chances to make the team again. The USA Basketball program is obviously very familiar with him already which gives him an advantage. Also, why wouldn’t they want someone who has won two gold medals to play for them again?

Fears has yet to move in to East Lansing like some of his fellow members of his freshman class have. He likely will see this event out before moving to campus to start gearing up for the regular season. Michigan State has had many athletes compete with team USA in the past, so Tom Izzo is more than happy to let his players participate.

For the full USA Basketball press release, click here.

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