The question on Michigan State fans’ minds: Will he commit to the Spartans?
“He,” though, refers to a range of prospects for football and basketball. Now is when the best of the best make their decisions, and others try to figure it out before the players do.
With that in mind, you, the fans, asked questions about where Michigan State stands with certain recruits and where that puts the Spartans going into next season. So let’s get into it.
This question has layers to it. The first part doesn’t have much to do with recruiting, but let’s address it. Ben Carter and Gavin Schilling, both senior big men for the basketball team, remain out with knee injuries. Schilling potentially could return this season, but coach Tom Izzo said Monday the chances of that are “looking slimmer.”
Carter, whom Izzo said he thinks is “100 percent done” for the season, could have a tough time getting a sixth year of eligibility. If he does, it would take Michigan State from a dearth to a wealth of big men. It’ll be up to the NCAA.
But for now, let’s assume those guys will be gone next season. Then what? Michigan State probably will have freshman standout Nick Ward back, but that’s no guarantee. The Spartans have two signees: Xavier Tillman, a pure post player, and Jaren Jackson Jr., more of a stretch-4 who can post up a bit but will need to add strength to do so at the college level.
Add 5-star target Brandon McCoy to the mix and the Spartans will be in business. He stands 7-foot-1 and is an absolute load down low. He’ll decide after the season, and it appears the Spartans will battle mainly with Oregon for him. Land him and it would be a youthful frontline for Michigan State, but an immensely talented one.
The worst-case scenario would be if neither Schilling nor Carter returned, and then McCoy committed elsewhere. Don’t count on all that happening.
Five-star La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.) School wing Brian Bowen previously had set a timeline that indicated he’d likely make a decision before 2017. That didn’t happen, and now it seems he’ll come to a decision “soon.”
The good news for Michigan State: Bowen goes to school with Jackson, who can be in his ear leading up to a decision. Additionally, the Spartans are much closer to him than other finalists Arizona, Creighton and Texas, so the staff can get out to see him much more easily.
As for the negatives, Arizona and Creighton probably can claim to need him more. Arizona desperately needs a wing like him, especially after Kentucky landed 5-star target Hamidou Diallo. And Creighton will surround him with shooters and let him do it all, which has to be enticing. Plus, the Bluejays are the best of the bunch now, ranked No. 8 in the country. How about that?
Michigan State’s chances with Bowen might hinge on whether Miles Bridges returns for his sophomore season. But even if he does, these two certainly could play together and would establish a mean wing duo.
Cordarrian Richardson, that is. The 4-star running back, now the top uncommitted prospect in the country at his position, will visit Michigan State this weekend. That cements his spot as a top target because the Spartans want him in as soon as possible to spend time with the many 2017 commits who also will be there.
Richardson, who attends Trezevant (Memphis, Tenn.), long has been close with Michigan State. He and director of college advancement and performance Curtis Blackwell have been talking since Richardson’s sophomore year.
He told Land of 10 the Spartans have “always been one of my favorites,” though the interest slowed for a period. Now that Richardson no longer is committed to Clemson, Michigan State is after him hard.
He’ll also visit Ole Miss and Oregon, the Ducks being another favorite and likely the Spartans’ top competitor in his recruitment. And don’t rule out the hometown school, Memphis.
Michigan State offensive line coach Mark Staten has been floated as a possible replacement candidate for P.J. Fleck at Western Michigan after Fleck bolted for Minnesota.
And why not? Spartans alumnus Jack Conklin was just named an NFL All-Pro as a rookie, a testament to Staten’s ability to develop linemen and spot talent. Conklin came to East Lansing as an unrated prospect.
I don’t think a departure would have a huge impact on 2017 recruiting because Staten hasn’t been heavily involved with too many remaining targets on the list. It would, however, be a tough loss for the program as a whole because Staten has done an impressive job at MSU.
Of course, he hasn’t left, and as it stands now, Michigan State fans can look forward to continuing to have him around.