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For Jacob Lacey, taking an unofficial visit to Michigan State felt a bit like a country boy checking out the big city for the first time.
East Lansing, Mich., actually holds a smaller population than his hometown of Bowling Green, Ky., but the size of the town as a whole didn’t strike him as much as the prominence of athletics on campus.
“Coming from Kentucky going all the way up to Michigan State, you expect big things,” Lacey said, “and it was much bigger than I thought it was gonna be, especially things like the weight room. The coaches were really great. I could tell they’re really good at their job, and it’s a really great culture up at Michigan State.”
Rated a 4-star defensive tackle in the 2019 class by 247Sports, Lacey picked up an offer from Michigan State in January. He immediately planned a visit, as he was already a fan of the Spartans program, and he chose to make the seven-hour drive with his father on Sunday, Jan. 29.
They took a tour, saw a presentation and got to chat with Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio and defensive line coach Ron Burton — not so much about football in particular but to establish a relationship early in the recruiting process.
Then Lacey and his father headed over to the Breslin Center to see MSU men’s basketball take on Michigan. With the raucous crowd and 70-62 win in a rivalry game, they could not have chosen a better time to visit.
“It was crazy,” Lacey said. “When we first got there, you could tell the atmosphere’s gonna be great. And once the game actually started, I couldn’t talk to the person right next to me because it was so loud.”
Not a problem. Lacey didn’t really have to exchange pleasantries, anyway. He sat next to fellow South Warren High standout C.J. Hayes, a 3-star wide receiver who would flip from Purdue and sign with Michigan State days later.
Hayes, still committed to the Boilermakers at the time, didn’t travel up with Lacey because Michigan State flew him in for an official visit. And even though they hung out together on the visit, Lacey didn’t know the decision his teammate would make two days later.
“I don’t think anybody really knew until the day he told us,” Lacey said. “It was a surprise, but in a good way. Obviously Michigan State’s a much better football school, and I think it probably fits him a little bit better.”
Landing Hayes could prove to be a big step for Michigan State toward giving itself a good shot at Lacey, as well. The sophomore expects to hear from his senior teammate about the Spartans.
“Knowing C.J., he’ll definitely try to get me to come up there, which I don’t have a problem with,” Lacey said. “We’ll just have to see what the next couple years have in store.”
He knows what the next several weeks have in store. Next weekend he’ll visit either Purdue or Tennessee, both of which have offered. The following weekend, he’ll check out Louisville.
Then he’ll take part in The Opening regionals and the Under Armour Rivals Series. With Lacey’s busy schedule, Michigan State had to find a way to stand out early on, and it did.
“It kind of confirmed and more about what I thought,” Lacey said of the visit. “I expected it to be really amazing, big, very cultured, things like that. And going there just really solidified what I knew. It was everything and more than you could’ve thought of.”
Basketball commitment stat tracker
With all the hype surrounding National Signing Day last week, we didn’t get a chance to let you know how Michigan State’s four hoops pledges performed.
So this time around, we’ll let you know what their numbers looked like over the last two weeks.
- 2017 La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.) forward Jaren Jackson Jr. has scored 48 points in his last three games: 22 against Gary (Ind.) Roosevelt and 13 apiece in two games at the Dr. Pepper TEN Classic in Chattanooga, Tenn.
- 2017 Grand Rapids (Mich.) Christian big man Xavier Tillman continued his work as a double-double machine, posting 17 points and 14 rebounds against Wyoming, 16 and 12 against East Grand Rapids and 13 and 10 against Forest Hills Eastern. The Eagles won all three games.
- 2018 Macomb (Mich.) Dakota forward Thomas Kithier has helped his team get back on track after a rocky start to the season. In his last three games, he put up 15 points and 9 rebounds in an 86-38 win against Chippewa Valley, 13 and 14 in an 88-59 win against Utica Eisenhower, and 14 and 9 in an 88-50 win against Sterling Heights Stevenson.
- 2018 Clarkston (Mich.) point guard Foster Loyer scored 29, 14 and 27 points in three more wins for his undefeated Wolves. He did, however, see his unreal streak of 119 straight made free throws end.