Sparty Onlooker: Xavier Henderson’s commitment, Talen Horton-Tucker’s visit
On the banks of the Red Cedar, recruiting never stops. We’re here every step of the way to keep you moving along with it.
Welcome to the party, Sparty.
On Friday morning, 4-star athlete Xavier Henderson from Pickerington (Ohio) Central announced his commitment to Michigan State, making the Spartans the sixth team in the Big Ten to land a 2018 prospect.
Henderson told Sean Scherer of 247Sports that Michigan State sees him as a defensive back. It makes sense when you look at the tackling ability displayed in his tape.
It’s always critical to get the ball rolling with the first commitment of a new class, and to do it so early with a player of Henderson’s caliber is big.
And over in Ann Arbor …
It wasn’t nearly as good a day for Michigan. The Wolverines lost out on 4-star linebacker Antwuan Johnson, who reopened his recruitment after having been committed to head coach Jim Harbaugh’s program.
Johnson told Landof10’s Brandon Justice that he came to his decision in part because of a lack of prioritization on the part of Michigan linebackers coach Chris Partridge.
So what does this have to do with Michigan State? No, we’re not just railing on the Wolverines for the heck of it. Johnson told Landof10 that although the Spartans haven’t offered, they have been in contact.
And Michigan State’s latest commit, the aforementioned Henderson? He and Johnson, both Ohio natives, have been close ever since playing AAU basketball together in sixth and seventh grade.
So don’t be surprised if the Spartans jump into the mix for the Dunbar (Ohio) prospect.
Not a bad day in East Lansing
Any player would probably be thrilled to be compared to Denzel Valentine.
Talen Horton-Tucker sure was. And to hear that from Valentine’s former coaches at Michigan State made it even more special. Assistant coach Dwayne Stephens and MSU watched the 2018 guard several times this summer, came to that conclusion and planned to get him on campus.
That visit came last Friday for the Spartans’ win over Furman. Horton-Tucker, who plays for Simeon Career Academy in Chicago, got to watch the game with head coach Tom Izzo, 2018 commit Thomas Kithier, top target Xavier Tillman, fellow Chicagoan Xavier Castañeda and more.
“It was really nice,” Horton-Tucker, whose offers include DePaul and Iowa State, told Landof10. “They showed a lot of great hospitality to the players that were there, and the team is really nice. It’s a family-oriented program.”
The family atmosphere was shown largely through the return of former players: Bryn Forbes, Matt Costello and, of course, Valentine. Horton-Tucker got to hang out with all of them and play some pickup ball as well.
MSU has not offered Horton-Tucker yet. They’re in a group along with Illinois, Missouri, Northwestern and Tulsa that has shown interest but not yet pulled the trigger. He said the Spartans will continue to evaluate him. Next, they’ll come to see him at an open gym.
As for the Valentine comparisons, Horton-Tucker’s mindset seems to validate them. He doesn’t feel he’s limited to any one position. He’s just a basketball player.
“I really could play anything,” he said. “I think I’m versatile enough to play on the ball and off the ball and be able to play the three and the four. I think I can do all of it. I’ve just got to get the chance to do it.”
All ratings are from the 247Sports composite rankings unless otherwise noted.