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Michigan State Basketball: Transfer portal misses and what could have been

This team could have definitely been helped by a transfer or two.

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Michigan State basketball
© Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

It’s no secret that Michigan State basketball is lacking in transfer portal participation. This Spartan team is worse off because of it.

The college basketball landscape is different than it was 10, even five years ago. College players can now transfer whenever, wherever, with no threat of having to sit out for a year. Some programs have used this new landscape to the fullest, see Illinois or LSU. Michigan State basketball, however, falls in the camp of programs that, for better or worse, have thus far decided to mostly stick with their high school recruits and bypass the transfer portal.

Even with the massive success stories that are transfer guard Tyson Walker and forward Joey Hauser to go along with the obvious lack of an above-average center, Tom Izzo and Co. did not add any top-tier transfers. Fans will never know the behind-the-scenes effort put into corralling a transfer player this offseason, if there was any. Because of that, it is unfair to place all blame on the Spartan staff.

Whether you agree with the loyalty shown to original recruits or attacking the portal, there were a few transfer targets the Spartans were linked to.

Let’s take a look at the potential transfer targets Michigan State basketball either went after or should have gone after this past offseason.

Jalen Bridges, SF — transferred from WVU to Baylor

Potential lineup:

PG: A.J. Hoggard
SG: Tyson Walker
SF: Jalen Bridges
PF: Joey Hauser
C: Mady Sissoko

Jalen Bridges was an actual target for the Spartans after he announced he would be transferring from his hometown school, West Virginia. Admittedly, the addition of Bridges would not have corrected the lack of a true big on the Spartans’ roster. Bridges stands 6-foot-8, the same listed height as Malik Hall. However, with the constant injury bug that Hall has experienced this season, Jalen would have been a great addition.

Citing two separate seven-game losing streaks as his reason for transferring to Baylor, Bridges is averaging just under 10 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. Bridges is essentially a slightly less offensively gifted Hall, with a more apparent rebounding and defensive game. That would be a welcome addition to any contending team, whether they are starting or simply as a depth piece.

Micah Parrish, SF — transferred from Oakland to San Diego State

Potential lineup:

PG: A.J. Hoggard
SG: Tyson Walker
SF: Jaden Akins/Micah Parrish
PF: Joey Hauser
C: Mady Sissoko

The other player MSU was reportedly physically linked to was Detroit native, Micah Parrish.

Going to River Rouge High and then a post-grad year at Hillcrest Prep, the 6-foot-6 Parrish committed to the Oakland Grizzlies. After averaging double digits and over 46 percent from three in conference play as a sophomore for Greg Kampe, Parrish chose to enter the transfer portal, eventually committing to the San Diego State Aztecs.

Whether it be more difficult competition in a larger conference, or he is still becoming acclimated to the Aztecs, Parrish has seen a slight decline in play. Putting up 7.5 points with just 0.6 assists per game, Micah is currently coming off the bench for SDSU. It can be assumed he would have done the same with the Spartans, which would have made him a nice asset as MSU navigated the Akins and Hall injuries.

Fardaws Aimaq, C — transferred from Utah Valley to Texas Tech

Potential lineup:

PG: A.J. Hoggard
SG: Tyson Walker
SF: Jaden Akins
PF: Joey Hauser
C: Fardaws Aimaq

While Fardaws Aimaq was never linked to MSU, he was a clear candidate to fill our need for an offensively gifted center. Starting his collegiate career at Mercer, he moved to Utah Valley University and earned the honor of Riley Wallace Player of the Year as the top transfer.

While playing for the Wolverines, Aimaq became the first player in UVU history to earn both WAC Men’s Basketball Player of the Year and WAC Men’s Basketball Defensive Player of the Year. During his best season at Utah Valley, Fardaws averaged 19 points and 14 rebounds and shot the rare, yet efficient, three-ball at a 44 percent rate.

Eventually coming by way of Utah Valley, Fardaws was somewhat under the radar to many casual college basketball watchers. The major concern with Aimaq would obviously be the large step up in competition from the Western Athletic Conference to the Big Ten. He would eventually transfer to Texas Tech, where his debut was put on hold after breaking his foot back in September. After some speculation on possibly transferring once again from Texas Tech due to team doctors rushing him back from his foot injury, Fardaws put the rumors to rest and has appeared in three games this season.

Though just a small sample size, he is averaging 10 points and 6.7 rebounds while shooting 50 percent from deep, which would be nice for the green and white.

Manny Bates, C — transferred from NC State to Butler

Potential lineup:

PG: A.J. Hoggard
SG: Tyson Walker
SF: Jaden Akins
PF: Joey Hauser
C: Manny Bates

Similar to Fardaws, it was never confirmed that Michigan State was in direct contact with Manny Bates. He was, however, a popular suggestion as someone who could easily be plugged into the Spartans’ starting lineup and elevate this team.

A consensus four-star recruit in high school, Bates had a fantastic career at NC State before transferring to Butler. Before leaving, he was on pace to break the program record for both shots blocked as well as field goal percentage.

Playing at Butler, Bates is averaging 12 points and six rebounds per game. Having two years of eligibility with Bates would allow Mady Sissoko to be relegated to the bench, Jaxon Kohler to provide sparing minutes for experience, and Carson Cooper to redshirt, as was the plan this season.

Acquiring Bates or Aimaq would have been the best-case scenario for this past offseason.

Writer and contributor for Spartan Shadows. Tyler Dutton, a graduate of Michigan State, is a college and professional basketball specialist with over four years of experience writing on both the Spartans and Pistons.

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