After landing the No. 4 class in 2023 and sitting at No. 5 in 2024, Michigan State basketball recruiting is hotter than ever.
Do you remember how ridiculous those “Tom Izzo is washed” comments were about a year ago when a lot of people were questioning if the game and recruiting had passed the Michigan State basketball coach by? Man has Izzo proved them wrong.
Coming off a solid postseason run that saw the Spartans narrowly beaten by Kansas State in overtime of the Sweet 16, Izzo has the Michigan State basketball program once again on the rise nationally. High expectations are once again looming for MSU not only next season but for years to come thanks, in part, to the elite level of recruiting in recent years by the coaching staff.
The last six recruiting classes (2019-2024) have had a total of 17 high school commitments. Those 17 athletes consisted of three five-stars, 12 four-stars, a three-star, and one unranked player. That is about as good as recruiting gets (outside of the Kentuckys and Dukes of the college basketball world) especially considering the two non-four/five-star recruits have more than held their own in the college game.
Let’s take a quick look at each of these recruiting classes and how they’ve done.
This recruiting class saw three recruits come to East Lansing including four-stars Rocket Watts and Malik Hall and three-star Julius Marble.
Hall is the only player who has stayed on the MSU roster throughout his entire career and is returning for one final season. He will be a major contributor and leader on a team with championship level aspirations.
Watts was one of my favorite players when he was in East Lansing. Unfortunately he struggled at times in the green and white, but Izzo himself has said that they wouldn’t have won the 2020 Big Ten title without Rocket on the team. He played two seasons at MSU before transferring to Mississippi State then transferring again to Oakland where he played against the Spartans this past season at the Breslin Center.
The final member of this class is someone I think most of Spartan Nation wishes we still had on our roster. Marble, a three-star, showed flashes of a great offensive game before transferring for personal reasons to Texas A&M. This season he averaged 9.1 points and 4.1 rebounds, and having watched a few of his games this season, I definitely wished more than once that we still had him as he would have easily had the best offensive game down low out of all of our bigs.
This class saw just two commits in four-stars AJ Hoggard and Mady Sissoko. Both have played a massive role during their time at Michigan State, especially this last season where they both started all but one game this season. AJ and Mady are both returning next season and will likely both be starters once again.
Hoggard will be one of the vocal leaders of this team and will be our go-to guy on the offensive end along with Tyson Walker. If AJ can stay mentally checked in at all times, I think he’s in for an even better season next year.
Sissoko has shown flashes on the offensive end as a constant lob threat off pick and rolls and offensive rebound put backs. He also has improved a lot defensively over the years mainly due to staying out of foul trouble. If Mady can develop one solid post move, look for him to have a great year this season as well.
The class of 2021 saw three recruits come to MSU in five-star Max Christie and four-stars Jaden Akins and Pierre Brooks.
Christie was a one-and-done player after averaging 9.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists. He was drafted 35th overall in the second round by the Los Angeles Lakers where he has averaged 3.1 points in his 41 appearances.
Akins played a massive role in the success of Michigan State this past year, starting in 25 out of the 30 games he played this year. He averaged about 10 points this season and showcased his elite 3-point shooting with a 42 percent clip on the year. Add in his monstrous dunks and he is a legit multi-level scoring threat. He will be a starter next year as well and likely will see an increase in usage assuming he returns after entering his name into the NBA draft pool on Friday.
The last member of this class, Brooks, was unfortunately never able to find his footing in East Lansing. He entered the transfer portal this offseason and has found his next home at Butler where I think his game will fit perfectly.
Three recruits joined the fold in the class of 2022 in four-stars Jaxon Kohler and Tre Holloman as well as unranked Carson Cooper. Kohler and Holloman both saw limited minutes this season, but I loved what I saw for them and have high expectations for them both after watching them during their freshman seasons.
Jaxon, out of high school, was advertised as a great scorer down low with all of the post moves in the book and elite footwork, and he definitely showed that in spurts this year. If he can add some muscle this offseason in the weight room I think we could see him nearly double his offensive numbers next year while being more reliable on the defensive end.
Holloman also saw limited run this season at the point guard spot, but he showed great command of the offense when he was out there. Minutes will likely be limited again next season with Tyson and AJ both returning, but he is someone who can definitely be relied on to run the offense well off the bench.
The last member of this class, and by far the most shocking, is the unranked Cooper. The definition of “diamond in the rough” showed great upside this season after playing his high school ball on the B team at IMG Academy. Cooper was great defensively against some of the best bigs in the country and also showed the ability to score on the offensive end as well. Similarly to Kohler, if he can add some muscle this offseason as well as one solid go-to post move, I think he could be significantly better next season.
The incoming freshman class is ranked No. 4 in the country and will see five-stars Xavier Booker and Jeremy Fears as well as four-stars Coen Carr and Gehrig Normand come to East Lansing.
Booker likely won’t start game one as Izzo tends to hold off on freshmen starting at the beginning of the season, but I could see him eventually sliding into the starting spot at the four during the year. However, even if he doesn’t end up starting, Booker has all the tools needed to be a major contributor and play a ton of minutes as a freshman. He will not be with Michigan State basketball for four seasons, but there is a chance he may need more time to develop for the NBA and we could see a second season from him before he declares.
Fears will see a lot of minutes this year as well. He won’t be a starter this year as he is stuck behind the trio of Hoggard, Walker, and Akins, but he will see plenty of minutes off the bench and will showcase why his nickname is “The Floor General” from day one.
Carr and Normand will see minutes sporadically throughout their first season, but both players have extreme upside. Carr very well could be the best athlete ever recruited by Izzo and Normand is a sharpshooter from behind the arc. This class has the potential to be one of Izzo’s best of all time.
The 2024 class is still a ways away from being complete, but it’s off to a fantastic start. The class already has commitments from two top-100 four-star recruits in shooting guard Kur Teng and power forward Jesse McCulloch.
Teng was the first commit of the class back on April 3 and is ranked as the No. 36 overall prospect, according to 247Sports Composite ranking. He is one of the best shooters in the 2024 class who is able to score from the mid-range to beyond the arc.
McCulloch announced his commitment to Michigan State basketball on Thursday, catapulting this class up to No. 5 in the country. He is a great fit for the new style of basketball being the perfect stretch-four that will force the defense to space out to create driving lines for the rest of the team. He also brings extreme toughness that is a must-have for any frontcourt player on an Izzo-coached team.
Izzo is on one of the hottest recruiting stretches of his career and will also have one of his better teams this coming season. With this momentum on and off the court, there’s no telling what this program will be able to accomplish.
So the next time you see someone say Izzo is washed, just know that it is likely coming from a rival fanbase that is scared of what is brewing in East Lansing.
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