Michigan State basketball is bringing in the nation’s No. 4 recruiting class, but what can we expect from the newcomers?
With the Michigan State basketball season completed, and the high school circuit right on its tail, we can officially look toward next season. Tom Izzo and Co. are bringing in arguably one of their best classes ever, led by five-star center Xavier Booker. Along with Booker, the green and white welcome fellow five-star point guard Jeremy Fears, and four-stars Coen Carr and Gehrig Normand.
So what can we expect from the newcomers?
Let’s take a look at their strengths and weaknesses, where they fit in with the current Spartans, and what their first-year stat line could look like.
Xavier Booker (6-foot-10), Center
Senior year high school stat line: 24 games, 15.2 points, 1.8 assists, 8.3 rebounds, 0.9 steals, 1.9 blocks, 70% 2-point FG, 24% 3-point FG
Headlining the class, Booker comes to MSU as Izzo’s third-best recruit of all time. The 6-foot-10 center ranks as the eighth-best player in the nation, and second at his position.
In watching Booker, his strengths are quite apparent. Even at almost 6-foot-11, his ball handling is above average, and his shooting, whether spot up or off the dribble, is a plus of his game. Booker is fantastic at running the floor, a staple in Izzo-led teams. Because of his scoring and passing abilities combined with his raw talent, Booker sees himself starting his MSU career at the four spot. His ability to move out towards the perimeter would pair nicely with any of the Spartan big men playing alongside him, whether that be Mady Sissoko, Carson Cooper, or Jaxon Kohler.
While the potential is obviously there, there are a few key pieces Izzo will have to work with Xavier on. His defense is not as imposing as it should be, he has a tendency to let the game play him by, and if he is to compete with other bigs in the Big Ten, he will need to add substantial muscle. Still, strictly based on his potential, Booker is a day-one starter for Izzo in my opinion.
Predicted freshman year stat line: 31 games, 7.6 points, 1.5 assists, 5.3 rebounds, 0.4 steals, 2.1 blocks
Jeremy Fears (6-foot-1), Point Guard
Senior year high school stat line: 34 games, 18.8 points, 5.3 assists, 5.6 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 51.1% 2-point FG, 37.5% 3-point FG
Jeremy Fears played in the McDonald’s All-American game a few weeks ago along with Booker, and the announcers could not say enough about the incoming point guard. Fears had the extra difficult task of trying to showcase his abilities while not being the most talented point guard on the floor thanks to Isaiah Collier, but I think this allowed Spartan fans to get a glimpse of what Fears will be for Michigan State basketball next year. His floor vision and leadership skills are far above average, and his blow-by speed opens up his game in all aspects. Whether he chooses to finish at the basket, pull up from mid-range, or dish to an open player for the assist, Fears has elite playmaking potential.
A.J. Hoggard will be starting as it’s his offense but Fears’ ability to command and facilitate an offense will keep it hard for Izzo to keep him on the bench. Tre Holloman will have the experience, but Fears is the better passer, scorer, and leader. Who will get the nod when Hoggard needs a breather, and who will be relegated to third-string is a position battle I’m eager to see.
Predicted freshman year stat line: 30 games, 5.3 points, 1.6 assists, 2.5 rebounds, 0.7 steals, 0.3 blocks
Coen Carr (6-foot-7), Forward
Senior year high school stat line: 12 games, 12.0 points, 1.7 assists, 5.6 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 1.0 blocks, 53% 2-point FG, 26% 3-point FG
Coen Carr comes to Michigan State basketball as the most athletic recruit Izzo has had in years. We’re talking athletic ability similar to that of Shannon Brown or Miles Bridges. Both players were able to get every fan at the Breslin on their feet with a monstrous dunk, and Carr is expected to do the same. Using his aggressive driving tendencies, opposing defenders will be forced to make a business decision to get out of the way, or get caught in a highlight reel. His athleticism, motor, and effort will play nicely in the transition game, running the floor and being on receiving end of a Hoggard alley-oop.
Other than Carr’s insane motor and athletic potential, however, his offensive game away from the basket is somewhat limited. His shooting and ball handling will need to catch up to his athleticism if he is to make a name for himself at the college level.
Unfortunately for Carr, he has the size to play the three, but lacks the elite offensive skill; he has the motor and drive to play the four, but lacks the size. Being stuck in-between, the most realistic route for Carr to see more time at the next level is to continue developing his offensive versatility. Still, I expect Carr to play for the green and white for many years to come, becoming more and more of a do-everything type of player.
Predicted freshman year stat line: 27 points, 2.2 points, 0.2 assists, 1.3 rebounds, 0.3 steals, 0.3 blocks
Gehrig Normand (6-foot-6), Forward
Senior year high school stat line: 23 games, 12.0 points, 4.1 assists, 6.2 rebounds, 57.2% 2-point FG, 39.3% 3-point FG
Labeled as a late riser, Gehrig Normand only held three scholarships from mid-major schools in 2021. Taking time to work on his driving and finishing skills, he also would grow into his 6-foot-6 frame, adding much-needed muscle. Eventually working his way up to a four-star recruit, Normand committed to the Spartans in August of 2022 and rounded out Izzo’s recruiting class.
Similar to Carr, Normand is said to possess an elite motor and have surprising jumping abilities. After having an average junior year in terms of shooting, it’s been reported that his 3-point abilities have grown tremendously. Even though his passing and court vision is considered above average, he is clearly more comfortable without the ball in his hands and will need to work on his ball-handling skills. Projected as a four-year player, Normand has the chance to grow into a reliable second or third offensive option once given some experience at the collegiate level.
Predicted freshman year stat line: 25 games, 1.9 points, 0.6 assists, 0.6 rebounds
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