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Tom Izzo’s transfer portal views could help him build a title contender

It may sound crazy, but maybe Tom Izzo is on to something here.



Tom Izzo
© Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

Tom Izzo has been vocal about the transfer portal and its downfalls, and his mindset may help him build a national title contender.

The transfer portal has been a hot topic around college sports and depending on your coach and team, your school has a different way of utilizing the portal. Michigan State is an example of this. The Spartans have a coach who has used the portal quite a bit to improve his team and another coach that has been vocally against the portal while still using it when he believes he has to. The latter coach is Tom Izzo and he has been right about his approach to building his team.

While this approach might not be the right one for every coach, Izzo has built a national title contender, proving those fans and people that say “you have to go out a get a big man” or “go out and get the best players available” wrong even during times when things did not seem to be working.

One of those times when things were not working was the Foster Loyer and Rocket Watts situation a couple of years ago. A lot of people wanted to find their replacements immediately but Izzo gave them a chance. While they did end up transferring, it wasn’t because Izzo kicked them or because he was bringing in players to replace him. Izzo is going to give players every change they can to prove themselves and if those players just don’t work out, they can leave on their own time for a better opportunity.

Three examples of this were Foster Loyer, Rocket Watts, and the most recent example, Pierre Brooks. While things did not work out with these players, Izzo didn’t go out and bring guys in that are to replace them for one year.

He brought in guys that he could build in his system. Those players were Joey Hauser and Tyson Walker. Another example could have been Micah Parrish, who Izzo was right about trying to bring in because he was a key member to the San Diego State team that went to the national championship game this year. Though he missed on Parrish, Tom Izzo still landed two key pieces to in Hauser and Walker over the past few years.

How does bringing in Hauser and Walker prove that Izzo has been right? It proves that while you can go out and get players, you can do it while staying the course of your plan. Izzo has been someone that has forever and will forever believe in having a great team culture and developing players. This is exactly what he did going into this past season and with Tyson and Joey.

When you look at the majority of players that transfer, they usually spend one — maybe two — year at their new school. This is not the case for Michigan State with Hauser and Walker. They both ended up at Michigan State for three years. People were saying even after year one of Hauser and Walker that they were not working out. You could have even said that for year two for Hauser but this was not the case with Walker. It took Joey three years in East Lansing to truly find his footing and he was a big reason that Michigan State was able to make the Sweet 16 this year. Not many people believed that Michigan State would get to that point but it was one play away from being in the Elite Elite without an elite big man and depth that people were calling for.

Fans wanted Izzo to go out and get another big man or more depth for this team because there were only 10 scholarship players. While, at times, it was frustrating, Izzo stayed the course and executed his plan which turned the Spartans into a Sweet 16 team. Izzo trusted his process and that is why Michigan State currently sits in a favorable spot.

This makes you ask the question: why is it working so well for Michigan State?

This is because Izzo believed in his plan and his team. We, as Michigan State fans, have seen several players go from guys that might not have been major contributors to fan favorites. A perfect example is Hauser who was talked about above. That belief in Joey worked for him and it’s the reason Michigan State is headed into the next season as a top-five title contender.

It’s because Izzo did not go get a transfer big. While again, people may not have loved the fact that he did not get a portal big, would we have seen the growth that Mady Sissoko made this year if he did? We probably wouldn’t have seen Mady progress like he did. While Mady might not be the best big in the nation, I do expect him to continue to take another step next year.

What if Izzo would have brought in more transfers? Would we be getting Malik Hall and Walker back? That answer would like be “no.” Belief in his guys also plays a factor in those players coming back.

The last point to be made about believing and building players for their future is Jaden Akins. He recently declared for the NBA draft while keeping his college eligibility and I believe this was the right move. This allows Akins to learn what he needs to improve on and he will be able to do so because he will get more opportunities with Hauser gone.

In the college landscape where using the portal is very common, Tom Izzo has not only used the it minimally, he has only used it when he knows that his plan and culture will stay intact, leading Michigan State to a top-five title-contending team for 2023-24, and possibly going forward for a few years. Michigan State is in this position heading into next year because Izzo has stayed his course from day one and it has and will continue to work for the near future.


Writer says there’s a huge gap between Purdue and Michigan State basketball

This seems like a wild claim.



Michigan State basketball
© Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Gregg Doyel of the Indy Star claims that Purdue is “historically loaded” and there’s a huge gap between them and Michigan State basketball.

With the news of Jaden Akins and AJ Hoggard returning along with Tyson Walker and Malik Hall to go along with the No. 4 recruiting class in the country, Michigan State basketball went from a conference title contender to a national title contender.

Essentially everyone who follows college basketball has Michigan State as a top-five team and right there in the Big Ten as 1B to Purdue’s 1A — some even have it the other way around.

The Spartans bring back everyone but Joey Hauser to a team that went to the Sweet 16 and Purdue returns national player of the year Zach Edey to a Big Ten title team. Both teams are loaded and should be at the top of everyone’s list when it comes to national title contention.

But one Indy Star writer believes that Purdue is “historically loaded” and the talent-and-depth gap between the Boilermakers and “everyone else” is as large as he’s seen in years. Just a wild claim.

Gregg Doyel cites a solid incoming class to go along with Edey returning and the two freshmen guards with another year in the system. But he fails to recognize that Michigan State got even better. The Spartans are bringing in an even better recruiting class and they return their 2-3 most talented players from a year ago. The only loss is Hauser.

Saying that this year’s Purdue team is far-and-away the most talented and deepest team in the Big Ten and the gap is the biggest it’s been in years is asinine. There was a much larger gap last year.

Michigan State will go toe-to-toe with the Boilermakers and as long as Edey can be neutralized, the Spartans will have a chance to take them down for the Big Ten crown.

It’s tough to say a team like Michigan State basketball that’s 11-12 guys deep is not nearly as talented or deep as Purdue, but hey, let’s put that early chip on the shoulder.

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Michigan State Basketball: Allocating guard minutes for 2023-24

A lot of guards, not a lot of minutes to be had.



Michigan State basketball
© Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State basketball has an absolutely loaded backcourt heading into 2023-24. Let’s allocate the guard minutes.

Michigan State basketball has a loaded backcourt with the news of AJ Hoggard and Jaden Akins returning next season. Add this on top of Tyson Walker coming back and Michigan State adding a four-star point guard in Jeremy Fears just loads up this back court even more.

Let’s take a look at what the minute allocation could look like between the five guards on the roster.


The starting point guard is clearly set into place with AJ Hoggard starting 33 of 34 games last year. Next year’s team still goes as Hoggard goes and he will most likely average 28-30 minutes per game. AJ being able to defend multiple positions allows him to play alongside any of the other three guards on the roster next year. He should average around 15 points per game and six-plus assists. Him being able to increase his 3-point percentage up to 35 percent next year should help his scoring dramatically.

The starting shooting guard is Walker who started in all 34 games last season and nothing will change this season. This team is going to rely plenty on Tyson to begin the season as this team continues to mesh with all of the different lineups. He played almost 34 minutes per game this season due to injuries and necessity. Tyson will take a step back and only play 30-32 minutes this upcoming season. He will look to average 16-plus points per game and 2.5-plus assists.


This may come as a surprise, but I believe the backup point guard role will fall to Tre Holloman. He has a year under the belt with the system and should take a step forward in his role. He is able to defend either guard position allowing him to play with any of the other four guards on the team. Holloman will play anywhere between 8-12 minutes per game and will look to be in a more featured role running the backup offense. Tre should average 3-5 points per game and 1.5 assists.

Jeremy Fears will fill in and be able to learn from a loaded backcourt while playing 6-8 minutes per game which could be pushed to 8-10 by the end of the season. Fears defense should rival what Walker brings to this team with this second group. Fears offensive role will look like Tre’s freshman year and not looked upon much offensively. He should look to average 1.5-plus points and one assist per game.

Finally, Jaden Akins will fill in anywhere from 2-5 minutes at the two-guard spot. He can help fill an offensive role when Tyson is out of the game and can handle some of the pick and roll duties in this spot. Akins will mostly play on the wing as he started 25 games there last season. He is a guard, but he’ll be forced into playing on the wing.

Minutes Summary

  • AJ Hoggard: 28-30 per game
  • Tyson Walker: 30-32 per game
  • Tre Holloman: 8-12 per game
  • Jeremy Fears: 6-8 per game
  • Jaden Akins: 2-5 per game

Akins did tweet this out the other day:

So he could see more ball-handling duties.

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Jeremy Fears makes final cut for U19 USA Basketball team

Jeremy Fears could represent USA Basketball again.



Jeremy Fears
© Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Incoming Michigan State freshman Jeremy Fears has made the final cut for the U19 USA Basketball team.

Incoming Michigan State basketball freshman Jeremy Fears is hard at work this summer. He is currently in the process of trying to make the final roster for the U19 USA Basketball team. Thirty-five athletes have been selected to participate in their upcoming training camp, and Fears is included on that list.

Training camp for these 35 athletes with take place June 11-18. Twelve players will then be selected to participate in the FIBA U19 Wold Cup at the conclusion of this training camp. The World Cup takes place from June 24 through July 2.

The 35 players consist of some athletes in the 2022 class that have one year of college ball under their belts. The pool of players also consists of athletes from the 2023 incoming freshmen class and the 2024 class who will be high school seniors. More than half of these participants have USA Basketball experience and ten of them have won gold for the USA already.

Jeremy Fears’ USA Basketball history

Jeremy Fears is one of the 10 players mentioned to have already won gold for the USA. In fact, Fears has won a gold medal twice. He won the 2021 U16 FIBA Championships and in 2022 won gold in the U17 FIBA World Cup.

Based on this history alone, I love his chances to make the team again. The USA Basketball program is obviously very familiar with him already which gives him an advantage. Also, why wouldn’t they want someone who has won two gold medals to play for them again?

Fears has yet to move in to East Lansing like some of his fellow members of his freshman class have. He likely will see this event out before moving to campus to start gearing up for the regular season. Michigan State has had many athletes compete with team USA in the past, so Tom Izzo is more than happy to let his players participate.

For the full USA Basketball press release, click here.

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