Sophomore guard Jaden Akins just underwent surgery and will miss a month, at least. But his absence should be seen as an opportunity.
News broke on Tuesday after Jaden Akins, a budding sophomore for MSU, underwent surgery over the weekend to repair a stress reaction in his foot.
Although his timetable for a return didn’t signal that he’d miss any regular-season action, it still brought to the surface some concerns about the team’s depth.
As we all know by now, Tom Izzo decided to pocket some scholarships so as to not reach for guys who he didn’t think would help out right away. It’s not often you see a college basketball coach go out without a full roster of scholarship players, but Izzo is trying something new. He’s taking a chance.
Hopefully that risk will pay off, but if an injury trend continues into the season, the Spartans may be doomed. That’s why there was some panic around the fanbase when it was announced that Akins would miss a month after foot surgery.
What many don’t realize is that this injury and subsequent recovery time is going to present opportunities to guys who need to grow in certain areas.
Let me preface this by saying, yes, I acknowledge that Akins, too, needs to grow as a player and it would have been critical for him to stay healthy in the month leading up to the season. Development is key and this might hurt Akins a bit early on in his sophomore year.
But it’s not all bad news.
With Akins out for the next month of practice and conditioning, other guys will be forced to step up.
Pierre Brooks is the first name that comes to mind. He’s going to have a chance to really play that wing role potentially with the starters. His confidence could grow while playing next to AJ Hoggard and Tyson Walker. Brooks needs more wing reps to get comfortable and after a big summer, this may be a perfect opportunity for him to take that next step on both ends of the court.
Tre Holloman is another name to keep an eye on with Akins sidelined for the next month. The incoming freshman will also get a chance to play that role on the wing even though he’s more of a point. He’ll be able to get more minutes at guard and hopefully get into a better flow offensively since his defense is currently his calling card.
And Malik Hall is taking on a new role this year on the wing. He’s going to ease into a more natural position and not necessarily be forced into the post anymore. Akins’ absence may force him to guard perimeter players in practice more and get him more comfortable with that defense.
Michigan State may not have its first action until Nov. 1 as the exhibition opener and Akins may still be held out then, but the team is still going to benefit from this in the long run.