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Michigan State basketball: What if trades were allowed in college hoops?

I mean, the NIL already makes college sports the wild wild west.

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Michigan State basketball
© Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

What if college hoops allowed for blockbuster trades similar to the NBA? What type of package would Michigan State basketball put together?

The transfer portal in today’s college basketball allows programs to identify roster strengths and weaknesses and then upgrade accordingly. While this is more like free agency at the professional level, what if college basketball teams could put together trades? What packages could Tom Izzo and Michigan State basketball put together to solidify his 2024 roster?

Let’s have some fun and take a look at four different trades that could elevate the Spartans into a surefire championship-caliber team.

Trade Option 1

Michigan State receives: Zach Freemantle, F (6-9 RS Senior)
Xavier receives: Malik Hall, F (6-8 RS Senior) and Mady Sissoko, C (6-9 Senior)

Trade option No. 1 has Michigan State upgrading at the five with redshirt senior Zach Freemantle from Xavier. The 6-foot-9 forward is coming off a season in which he put up 15 points, eight rebounds, and three assists per game on a Xavier team that made it to the Sweet 16.

Xavier is bringing in two guards from the transfer portal, but they are still weak at the 3/4 position. Malik Hall would fit nicely into Xavier’s starting lineup. Hall, when healthy, is a very solid, veteran wing player. He would be able to provide experience and leadership for the two incoming Xavier guards, who are from smaller programs. After grabbing center Abou Ousmane from North Texas, Xavier can afford the loss of Freemantle, who is also coming off foot surgery in the offseason. Adding Sissoko would tip the scale and provide a depth piece at the five behind Ousmane.

Michigan State is able to upgrade tremendously down low, while only offering a veteran sixth man and a center whose ceiling we have most likely already found.

Trade Option 2

Michigan State receives: Ben Krikke, F (6-9 Senior)
Iowa receives: Tre Holloman, G (6-2 Sophomore) and Malik Hall, F (6-8, RS Senior)

Trade option 2 is interesting as it would be within the Big Ten. On top of it being inter-conference, it includes Michigan State acquiring a player from Iowa who hasn’t actually played for the Hawkeyes yet. Graduate senior Ben Krikke has committed to play for Iowa after spending his first four years at Valparaiso. Putting up 19 points per game, six rebounds, and over two assists per game, Krikke’s offensive abilities would pair nicely next to Sissoko who would essentially then act as the more defensive big down low. Additionally, this would give Xavier Booker more time to learn from the veteran big man.

As Iowa saw Krikke join the program, they also saw starting guard Ahron Ulis transfer out. With Ulis’ exit, the Hawkeyes are extremely green at the two positions. Tony Perkins will return for his senior year, but alongside him will most likely be the unproven Josh Dix.

For Michigan State basketball, Tre Holloman might quickly find himself on the outs with elite point guard Jeremy Fears coming to campus next season. Holloman, a former four-star and Gatorade Player of the Year himself, would shore up the guard position for Iowa.

Including veteran wing Malik Hall to provide a replacement for Krikke would sweeten the deal.

Trade Option 3

Michigan State receives: Oumar Ballo, C (7-0 Senior) and Jaden Bradley, G (6-3 Sophomore)
Arizona receives: A.J. Hoggard, G (6-4 Senior) and Jaxon Kohler, F (6-9 Sophomore)

Package option three is similar to option two but results in a more proven, dominant center coming back to East Lansing.

The fit for MSU is obvious. Oumar Ballo is a 7-foot bruiser down low who just averaged 14 and seven for the Wildcats. At 260 pounds, Ballo has the size and weight to go toe to toe with other Big Ten centers. Coming with Ballo to MSU would be the big point guard Jaden Bradley who just recently transferred from Alabama. His services will be required to fill the hole left by what the Spartans would need to give up.

To acquire a dominant big such as Ballo, Michigan State would need to part with point guard AJ Hoggard. His size allows him to play a physical game for a point guard and his three-point shooting has improved each season. While there is constant debate surrounding Hoggard’s body language and effort, his absence would be a big loss for MSU. However, you are getting a younger, former four-star point guard back in Bradley. Plus, incoming freshman Jeremy Fears is expected to play a major role for the Spartans anyways.

For Michigan State, this would hamper the guard play but greatly increase the five. In my opinion, the pros outweigh the cons in this scenario.

Trade Option 4

Michigan State receives: Ugonna Onyenso, F (6-11 Sophomore) and Adou Thiero, CG (6-6 Sophomore)
Kentucky receives: Malik Hall, F /(6-8 RS Senior) and Mady Sissoko, C (6-9, Senior)

The final trade package option for Michigan State is with close friend of Tom Izzo, John Calipari, and the Kentucky Wildcats. This deal addresses the same needs as the other three options. Using Malik’s experience and skillset to net more potential down low. Kentucky notoriously puts out extremely young lineups as Calipari is the king of one-and-dones, so Hall’s veteran leadership would once again be a welcome sight for the Wildcats. Between the two, three, and four spots, Kentucky needs one more to go along with Justin Edwards and Antonio Reeves so Hall would possibly slide right into the starting lineup.

The expectation is that incoming five-star freshman and No. 4 recruit in the country Aaron Bradshaw will take over for the outgoing Oscar Tshiebwe. Knowing this, Onyenso already jumped into the transfer portal but eventually decided to withdraw and stick with Kentucky. It’s obvious he’s the odd man out after not being given the chance to show his abilities during his freshman year, but the former four-star, 7-foot sophomore with a 7-foot-5 wingspan would slide right into the open center position for the green and white.

Mady Sissoko would go to the Wildcats to back up the freshman phenom, and Adou Thiero would come with Onyenso to East Lansing as a depth piece. Thiero, while not contributing much during his freshman year, is still a former four-star 6-foot-5 combo guard who could shift between the three and four for Tom Izzo and Michigan State basketball.

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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