Michigan State basketball

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Why I believe Michigan State basketball will surprise people in 2022-23

Although Tom Izzo didn’t fill out the roster and lost some key players, Michigan State basketball is going to surprise people.

Who would have thought that we’d be talking about our excitement for Michigan State basketball in late-September after the football team finished 11-2 last year?

Depressing, I know.

There’s still time for the football team to turn things around, but the basketball program began practice this week and that just sparked some excitement for me.

I read a bunch of recaps from beat reporters who got to attend practice and everything made it seem like this is a tight-knit group of guys. We do hear that every year, but this is quite literally the smallest roster Tom Izzo has ever had.

He has decided not to utilize all of his open scholarships in order to ensure his team is tightly-knit. There’s no choice but for everyone to be close, warm, personal friends.

And that’s a good thing. Izzo’s best teams have played together for years and gelled at an extensive level — go back and look at the 2000 national champs and the 2009 Final Four team.

I think this year’s team — albeit not Izzo’s deepest or most talented — will surprise some people and it’ll be the best MSU team in three years.

And here’s why:

  1. As I mentioned, the roster is smaller and guys have been playing together for quite a while. This comfortability is bigger than you think.
  2. The younger guys are talented and will be forced to grow up quickly. The ceilings for Jaxon Kohler and Tre Holloman are incredibly high. And then you have Carson Cooper who Izzo says is better than he expected. He will have his redshirt burned.
  3. The backcourt depth is really solid as long as everyone is healthy.
  4. AJ Hoggard is that Mateen Cleaves/Draymond Green/Cassius Winston type leader that all good Izzo-coached teams have. He’s going to take that next step this year in all phases.
  5. While the frontcourt depth isn’t great, I do believe there’s plenty of flexibility in the lineups that the Spartans can run out. Mady Sissoko will get better (he has to), Kohler is going to grow up quickly, Cooper is also going to grow up fast, and Joey Hauser can stretch the floor on offense in a smaller lineup.
  6. Injuries are forcing key role players to step up in practice. With Jaden Akins and Malik Hall sidelines for a bit, other guys are being forced to step up and grow into larger roles in practice. This is only going to help down the line.
  7. The early schedule is an absolute gauntlet. This is going to be the most battle-tested team by the time conference play starts.
  8. Speaking of conference play, this may be the weakest Big Ten in years. A strong non-conference schedule is going to make this team more than ready.

This group has grown together and has seen what it takes to be successful. I think we’re going to see it surprise some people and exceed expectations this year. It’ll take some early lumps against top-ranked teams, but that will make it stronger when the conference campaign starts.

Am I drinking the annual Izzo Kool-aid? Dang right I am.

Michigan State football

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Michigan State football: No, it’s not time for Noah Kim

Michigan State football fans love a good backup quarterback but it’s not time to move on from Payton Thorne for Noah Kim.

Every fan of a struggling football team loves the backup quarterback. That’s not different with Michigan State football fans this season as the Spartans have crawled to a 2-2 start.

To make matters worse, Payton Thorne hasn’t exactly been playing his best football.

The junior quarterback has seven touchdown passes through four games but he also has six interceptions. He threw two picks in a lopsided loss to Minnesota and he also fumbled the ball in the red zone when Michigan State had a chance to get back into the game. This type of play and turnover issue doesn’t exactly instill confidence in fans.

So when Noah Kim came in the game, staring up at a 34-0 deficit in the fourth quarter before engineering a touchdown drive in the final minute, jumping on the bandwagon was easy for some.

Kim looked great in the final minutes of the loss and his 70 yards on 6-of-7 completions with a beautiful touchdown throw to Germie Bernard but there shouldn’t be calls for a change — yet.

It’s easy to throw blame on a quarterback during a rough stretch especially when he has six interceptions through four games, but he has been far from the problem for Michigan State football.

Does Kim change the outcome of the Minnesota game? Absolutely not. Starting him wouldn’t have changed the fact that the defense gave up seven quick points and the run game was non-existent behind that offensive line and mediocre play-calling. Michigan State still loses that game.

Does Kim change the outcome of the Washington game? I would argue that it would have been even more lopsided because Thorne looked really good outside of a couple of mistakes. He kept Michigan State alive against the Huskies and wasn’t intimidated by the environment. The defense would have still let both quarterbacks down.

Before I get thrown under the bus for being a Thorne apologist in the past, I do want to say that I want the best quarterback to start. If Kim proves himself to be the better player, he deserves to be QB1. But there’s a reason Mel Tucker continues to back Thorne and says he’s not worried about him.

And you have to believe him.

Why? If you look at the games, Thorne is pressing way too much. He’s playing from behind immediately as the defense has given up long touchdown drives over the past two games and it’s already 7-0 before he can take a sip of water on the sideline. Thorne comes in and his play-calling and offensive line do him no favors. Jay Johnson dials up a run up the middle for no gain or one yard on first down and it’s already second-and-long. A potential incompletion or another run play makes it third-and-long and the drive is already dead.

Pressure builds on any quarterback when he’s down 14-0 when he’s only had one chance on offense. The room for error disappears. One mistake puts the game out of reach. That’s not on him, that’s on the coaching staff and the defense for setting him up for failure.

Are his interceptions unacceptable? Yes, because they’re all the result of poor decisions and trying to do too much. Every pick he’s thrown this year would have been avoided last year. He’s trying to do too much.

It’s easy for a backup quarterback to come in and look great against second and third-string defenders while playing with absolutely nothing to lose.

Thorne needs to be better but so do his coaches, so does his offensive line, so do his running backs, and so does the defense.

It’s OK to expect more from Thorne and potentially believe that Kim is going to be right on his heels if he’s not performing, but right now, he’s QB1 and he should be. That could all change if he fails to progress in the coming weeks assuming the defense comes alive.

Jaden Akins

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Jaden Akins’ injury should be seen as opportunity for MSU basketball

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.

Michigan State basketball

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Michigan State Basketball: Tom Izzo has found his second wind

After being dubbed “washed” by some fans of Michigan State basketball and most rivals, Tom Izzo has proven that it’s not the case.

Twelve years ago, Tom Izzo had to sit down with his family and make a decision about his future with Michigan State basketball.

The Cleveland Cavaliers had come calling, offering to double his MSU salary where he would also have a chance to coach LeBron James (LeBron eventually left the Cavaliers for the Heat). He had to decide if coaching in the NBA was really his dream or if he was happy being a successful college coach with a seemingly endless leash.

Izzo had gone to back-to-back Final Fours for the second time in his career and his stock was at an all-time high. It made sense that he was a top NBA head coaching candidate.

After what felt like an eternity of waiting, fans watched as Izzo made the decision to turn down the NBA (again) and return to Michigan State “for life.”

At the time, that proclamation of “Spartan lifer” seemed like just an expression to show he was in it for the long run. On Thursday, about 12 years and two months later, he made that term official. Izzo signed an extension, making him a “Spartan for life.”

Everyone expected him to remain with Michigan State until he retired, but this move just goes to show that he feels like he has a lot left in the tank. And it’s going to pay dividends for recruiting.

Izzo’s stability will help future recruiting classes and he’s going to be around for a while.

Plus, this proves that he found his second wind.

After a couple of pedestrian seasons, per his standards, it felt like Izzo was entering the twilight years much like Mark Dantonio did. It felt like he was gearing up for an upcoming retirement — potentially after his son graduated.

Not so fast (*in my best Lee Corso voice*).

Izzo has always said that he’ll be done coaching when he’s not having fun anymore. Clearly, after the past few weeks, he’s still having fun. He just completed one of the best recruiting classes of his entire tenure and he’s heading into the 2022-23 season with an extremely close-knit team.

Right when it looked like Izzo was about to ride off into the sunset in a couple of years, he signs a five-year deal that could pay him up to $6.2 million per year. And he pieced together a top-five recruiting class for 2023.

He’s not done yet.

Counting Izzo out is probably the worst thing anyone could do because he just comes back stronger. He loves being overlooked because that’s when he strikes and has his most successful seasons.

A run is coming. No. 2 is coming. Izzo is about to mess around and cut down some nets in the years to come.

Michigan State basketball

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The post-2000 Michigan State basketball Mount Rushmore

Tom Izzo has had plenty of elite Michigan State basketball over the past couple of decades. Who’s on the post-2000 Mount Rushmore?

Tom Izzo has brought in plenty of talent to Michigan State basketball over the years.

Countless, McDonald’s All-Americans, dozens upon dozens of top-100 and top-50 recruits, Mr. Basketballs, and Gatorade Players of the Year have called East Lansing home. He’s recruited every time zone (especially in the 2023 class) and he’s built himself a Hall of Fame career.

Throughout the years, there have been a handful of players who have stood out above the rest. Guys who would make a good case for “Mount Rushmore” in Michigan State basketball history.

Since I didn’t start really paying attention to MSU basketball until I was in third or fourth grade (because I can’t remember), I thought it’d be fun to do a post-2000 Mount Rushmore for the program.

Everyone knows that Shawn Respert, Steve Smith, and Magic Johnson each have a strong case to make the all-time Mount Rushmore, but let’s focus on the past two decades.

It’s hard to narrow it down to just four Michigan State basketball legends, but I did my best to choose a post-2000 Mount Rushmore.

Cassius Winston

First, I have Cassius Winston.

This one was easy for me not only because of a little recency bias but also because he was that good. Cassius did things with the ball in his hands that we’ll probably never see again. He was a generational point guard in East Lansing and I think he’s the best Tom Izzo has ever had at the position.

Cassius was the ultimate college point guard. He was slippery, crafty, and finished at the rim with what felt like 100 percent shooting percentage. He made every circus shot and he’s also Michigan State’s all-time assists leader. He was special and his No. 5 should be in the rafters soon. It’s a shame that COVID-19 cut his career short because 2019-20 felt like a national title season.

If I were to start a college team and I had to choose from Mateen Cleaves and Cassius in their primes, I’d choose the shy kid from Detroit Jesuit.

The All-American and Big Ten Player of the Year will never have to pay for a drink in East Lansing again.

Denzel Valentine

Denzel Valentine is next up. He’s the second-most recent addition to the post-2000 Michigan State basketball’s Mount Rushmore, but you can’t seriously have one of these without him. People forget just how dominant he was as an upperclassman.

Though his career got off to a slow start and he earned the nickname “Tragic Johnson” from Izzo, he finished it as strongly as a player could. Plus, he was a local kid and fan favorite.

I was a doubter of Valentine through his first two seasons as he seemed to make poor decisions with the ball and tried to be too fancy with it. He really broke out as a junior, averaging 14.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 4.3 assists while improving every shooting metric. Valentine did so yet again as a senior, averaging 19.2 points, 7.8 assists, and 7.5 rebounds. He led what many — including myself — believe was the most complete regular-season MSU team in a decade.

Unfortunately, the former NABC Player of the Year and All-American seems to slip through the cracks because his career ended with a Middle Tennessee loss. He was better than that.

Draymond Green

OK, this one had to be the most obvious. The former all-time great Spartan leader and current NBA champion was an incredible talent after beginning his career as a three-star.

Like Denzel, Draymond Green was named the NABC Player of the Year and won the Big Ten Player of the Year award. He did a little of everything while he was in East Lansing and he was a phantom whistle shy of making the national title game against Duke as a sophomore. That play still haunts him and Butler’s Gordon Hayward even admits that he wasn’t fouled. OK, let’s stop talking about it, I’m getting upset.

Draymond was basically Izzo’s protege as a player-coach and held all of his teammates accountable. He was the perfect captain and he was a triple-double threat each time out.

As a senior, he had a huge year, averaging 16.2 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game. He also shot the ball pretty well — NBA fans would never believe it. Draymond was also an elite defender and that’s translated to the NBA where he’s won multiple defensive player of the year awards.

Love him or hate him, Draymond is a Spartan legend.

Mateen Cleaves

Mateen Cleaves delivered Izzo his only national title. It’s hard to overlook that.

But many Michigan State fans would choose Cassius over Cleaves if given the option. That doesn’t make Cleaves any less of a Spartan legend. In fact, if you’re anything like me, he was your first favorite Michigan State basketball player. Growing up during the early years of Izzo, Cleaves was the inspiration to my basketball playing career (that didn’t exactly last a lifetime).

Mateen led the Spartans to a Final Four as a junior and won it all as a senior. Many believed Cassius was on the verge of that same fate. Cleaves was also the program’s all-time leader in assists; Cassius broke that record. Both are very similar, but Cassius was a better offensive threat while Mateen was an overall great player and leader.

Cleaves led vocally and Cassius led by example. You can’t go wrong with either one.

A three-time All-American, three-time All-Big Ten selection, and two-time Big Ten Player of the Year, Mateen was one of Izzo’s first legends.

He makes the post-2000 Mount Rushmore because he won a national title in 2000 even though he played just a handful of months after the turn of the century. This is the perfect player to round out the Mount Rushmore.

Who would you put on your post-2000 Mount Rushmore? Did I miss anyone?

Michigan State basketball

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Michigan State Basketball: Best player comparison for Coen Carr

Coen Carr is one of the best athletes to commit to Michigan State basketball in some time. Which former Spartan does he compare to?

Jason Richardson.
Shannon Brown.
Branden Dawson.
Adreian Payne.
Miles Bridges.
Jaren Jackson Jr.
Coen Carr?

That could soon be the list of the super-athletes to come through Michigan State basketball under Tom Izzo if all goes as planned.

On Tuesday night, Carr committed to Michigan State over Tennessee, Indiana, and Vanderbilt.

Carr is an explosive athlete who has the ability to step out and hit the occasional three or mid-range jumper. He excels in the fast break and he’s an excellent alley-oop specialist. He’s not just a slasher, but he can get some air with no running start. Carr has plenty of highlights just grabbing rebounds and going right up over a couple of defenders for an impressive two-handed jam.

Standing 6-foot-7 and 200 pounds, Carr can get up with the best of them and might even be considered the best athlete in the class. He’s a violent dunker and will put plenty of defenders on posters while donning the green and white.

So which former Spartan does he compare to?

I’ve said this since the first highlight I saw of him: Branden Dawson.

It may seem a bit lazy since Dawson and Carr have slightly different strengths, but in terms of being athletes, both are very similar. Plus, Dawson was 6-foot-6 and 200 pounds coming in as a freshman and Carr is an inch taller and the same weight. Both have strong builds and while Dawson may have been a bit more compact, Carr is every bit as intimidating physically.

Dawson was a great fast-break player and could run the floor really well, defend in the post or on the wing, and rebound at a high level. Carr can also do those things exceptionally well.

Dawson wasn’t an effective shooter and never really grew into that mid-range role that Izzo wanted, but Carr has more potential in that category. He has shown the ability to step out and hit jumpers.

If Carr is anything like Dawson, Michigan State is going to flourish.

Now that Carr has committed, Michigan State has a Dawson-like player, Jaren Jackson Jr.-like player (Xavier Booker), Matt McQuaid-type player (Gehrig Normand), and a Cassius Winston-lite (Jeremy Fears).

Not a bad class, eh?

Michigan State basketball

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Will Michigan State basketball land 4-star SF Coen Carr?

Michigan State basketball is pushing for one final piece to its 2023 recruiting class in the form of Coen Carr.

Remember the “Tom Izzo is washed” crowd? It’s nearly gone extinct over the past couple of weeks.

Five-star big man Xavier Booker committed to Michigan State over Indiana, four-star athletic sharpshooting wing Gehrig Normand picked the Spartans just days after getting an offer, and now four-star freak athlete Coen Carr looks to be well on his way to joining the already-loaded 2023 class.

Right now, the class is almost perfectly balanced.

It has a point guard (Jeremy Fears), a shooting wing (Normand), and an elite scoring big (Booker). All it needs is another athletic wing. Come on down, Coen Carr.

On Saturday, just one day after Carr revealed his commitment date of Aug. 9, Michigan State began to get a flood of predictions. Recruiting experts and insiders on On3, Rivals, and 247Sports all pegged him to be a future Spartan. And that’s where I tend to agree.

The questions on everyone’s mind since Normand committed have been: Will Carr join the class? Will he commit shortly after getting a Michigan State basketball offer? Did Tom Izzo really seal the deal that quickly? Do the other three MSU commits have what it takes to convince him?

The answer to all of those questions will be yes, in my opinion.

Michigan State has the momentum here. Carr loved his visit, connected with Izzo, and he’s close with Michigan State’s three commits in the class. This seems like a no-brainer.

With Carr, Michigan State’s class would be top-three nationally and he’d fill that ‘super-athlete wing’ void that the Spartans need. Normand is a great athlete and he can shoot, but Carr has a different skill set. The two complement each other well on the wings. Carr could develop a solid jumper and be one of the scariest recruits in the class — he’s already arguably the best athlete in 2023.

All signs are pointing to Carr becoming the latest MSU commitment and the fit is there.

It makes too much sense.

  1. MSU has a need for wings.
  2. He loved his visit.
  3. He’s committing less than two weeks after his MSU visit.
  4. He complements the rest of MSU’s commits.
  5. MSU’s commits have been in his ear.
  6. Elite athletes have thrived in East Lansing (Shannon Brown, Branden Dawson, Miles Bridges, Jason Richardson).
  7. Izzo has proven to be a closer.

If I had a crystal ball, it would be Carr to Michigan State.

Michigan State basketball

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Could Michigan State basketball be in the mix for Purdue decommit Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn?

Four-star combo guard Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn decommitted from Purdue on Wednesday and Michigan State basketball could be in the mix.

Death. Taxes. Tom Izzo beating Matt Painter out for top recruits.

I tweeted this out after Xavier Booker committed to Michigan State basketball over Purdue and Indiana — the in-state schools — and it may actually need to come up again.

Four-star combo guard Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn (No. 48 nationally) decommitted from Purdue after being verbally solid since December. Izzo could swoop in once again and assert his recruiting dominance over Painter here.

Could Michigan State be in the mix for Gibbs-Lawhorn who was on the Spartans’ radar before he committed to Purdue? Ant Wright thinks so.

It’s wild how much Michigan State’s recruiting has turned around over the past couple of weeks. Maybe Gibbs-Lawhorn saw Booker commit to the Spartans along with Jeremy Fears (who he happens to be close with) and Gehrig Normand and wanted to be part of something special. Good players want to play with other good players and this could be just the latest case of that.

Michigan State may have reached out to Gibbs-Lawhorn or expressed interest in adding him to the expanded board, but I’m not completely sold that he’s priority No. 1 after Devin Royal commits to Ohio State.

After Royal, I think Izzo’s top priority is Coen Carr, a 6-foot-7 athletic freak from South Carolina, but it doesn’t hurt to have a backup plan. Continuing to add to that recruiting board is important because if Carr commits elsewhere, he’ll look to add a high-caliber fourth prospect to the class. Gibbs-Lawhorn fits that bill.

For those who believe that Izzo could add both since there will be room and Carr and Gibbs-Lawhorn play different positions, I’d lean more toward him taking one or the other. Yes, both play different positions, but Izzo has been vocal about not reaching the scholarship limit anymore before “it’s impossible to make everyone happy.”

Plus, Gibbs-Lawhorn is a guard and he’d join an already-loaded backcourt with AJ Hoggard, Jaden Akins, Tre Holloman, Fears, and the potential for Tyson Walker to return for one final season. That wouldn’t make a ton of sense roster-wise. He’s 6-foot-1 so that limits his ability to play more on the wing like Akins.

And Michigan State hasn’t even offered yet, according to 247Sports.

Though I’m not sold on Gibbs-Lawhorn joining MSU just yet, others disagree. Tipton Edits posted about the decommitment and Xavier Booker commented along with Andrej Stojakovic, a top 25 recruit in the 2023 class who says that he believes that Fears and Dra “will be future teammates again.”

via Tipton Edits on Instagram

It’ll be interesting to see if Izzo puts on the press with Gibbs-Lawhorn and goes against his word this offseason and fills out the scholarships with a five-man class, but my money would be on him going all-in on Carr and by the time he decides, the Purdue decommit may have already chosen a new school.

Gehrig Normand

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Gehrig Normand has a game built for Michigan State basketball

Michigan State basketball just got better on Tuesday night.

Four-star small forward Gehrig Normand (North Richland Hills, Texas) committed to the Spartans three days after leaving East Lansing with a scholarship offer.

Tom Izzo proved that he’s not afraid to add to his recruiting board when the ‘Plan A’ targets don’t work out. Fans really wanted to see this from the Hall of Fame head coach after an up-and-down offseason.

Normand also fits that description of a ‘Spartan Dawg’ to a T. He plays with a chip on his shoulder and has plenty of confidence. He plays inside-out and while he may not be able to create his own shot at a high rate at the next level — at least early on — he will be able to score around the rim and from the perimeter.

Looking for a former Spartan comp? My mind goes directly to Matt McQuaid. Although McQuaid was pretty athletic, he wasn’t going to throw down on a regular basis. I’d say he has the shooting touch of McQuaid with even more athleticism. He has some bunnies, but he’ll be spending a lot of time on the perimeter as a freshman if I were to wager a guess. His athleticism is more comparable to that of a healthy Kyle Ahrens.

Normand’s game is built for Michigan State. Not only have players like him succeeded in East Lansing before, but he plays with a chip and he looks like he’ll be a 3-4 year player. He’s going to play on the wing while Fears runs the point and Booker has the post on lock. If the Spartans can add Coen Carr to this class, that would be best-case scenario.

Michigan State now has two guys in the class (Normand and Fears) who will be at least 3-4 year guys, more than likely, and Booker is a likely one-and-done.

With Normand in the fold, he’s going to grow into a fan favorite rather quickly and his ceiling is incredibly high. He’ll be one of those guys who will be a role player in year one, a potential starter in year two, and then a star in year three. That is the perfect Michigan State prospect.

Izzo is fist-pumping somewhere.

Michigan State basketball

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After slow start, Michigan State basketball’s 2023 recruiting class will be special

The 2023 Michigan State basketball recruiting class entered the new year with zero commits and plenty of question marks especially after Tom Izzo signed just two guys in his 2022 class.

Six days after the calendar turned to 2022, Jeremy Fears made it official and committed to the Spartans.

It was a slow start for Izzo, but Fears was the perfect prospect to kick things off. He’s the prototypical Michigan State point guard who plays fearlessly and with a chip on his shoulder. He is a natural leader and calls himself the “floor general” which is fitting because he commands respect from everyone when the ball is in his hands.

Nearly seven months passed without another commit, but on July 30, Xavier Booker made it official and joined the 2023 class as Izzo’s top-ranked pledge ever — No. 1 overall on Rivals and No. 3 on 247Sports.

Despite that slow start to the class and some fans even going as far as calling Izzo “washed” because of the last couple of classes and lack of utilization of the transfer portal, the Hall of Fame coach has put together a heck of a one-two punch for 2023. And he’s not even close to being done.

Devin Royal, a four-star wing from Ohio, was his No. 3 priority in the class behind Fears and Booker but it looks like he’s going to be committing to Ohio State over Michigan State. The relationship he built with Chris Holtmann was just too strong and long-lasting that Izzo’s late surge just wasn’t enough. But unlike the previous couple of cycles, Izzo immediately went to Plan B options before it was too late.

In fact, he hosted four-star athletic sharpshooting wing Gehrig Normand (North Richland Hills, Texas) this past weekend and extended him an offer before he left East Lansing. On Monday, Michigan State picked up a huge crystal ball from Justin Thind on 247Sports for Gehrig who would be that Matt McQuaid-type piece.

During that same weekend, Izzo hosted another uncommitted four-star wing in Coen Carr (Greenville, S.C.) who is an athletic specimen and would give the 2023 class a heck of a boost in that category. I’m thinking he’s more of a Branden Dawson-type who could add a jumper. He left East Lansing with an offer as well.

Izzo is putting in the work to land both of these ‘Plan B’ guys who actually have the talent to be Plan A targets and if all goes to plan, the 2023 class could rival 2016 as the most talented in MSU basketball history.

Time to smoke that Izzo doubters pack.