Yeah, it’s been quiet around here because, well, it’s been quiet(ish) in recruiting. MSU still doesn’t have any players committed for the 2013 class and only a small handful of prospects are receiving intense attention. Thus far, it’s looked like there’s Jabari Parker as Plan A then everyone else following behind. However, Midnight Madness is coming up and this is a huge weekend for both football and basketball recruiting. With the end of a busy contact period, MSU coaches have been on the road talking to players, scouting, and securing upcoming visits to East Lansing. The list of uncommitted basketball recruits showing up on Friday is still being finalized but a few players are already confirmed visitors.
The biggest recent news was one long-confirmed Midnight Madness attendee, Demetrius Jackson, enthusiastically jumping on his twitter last night to claim to have received a coveted Michigan State offer. Offers can be conditional so it may not be that Jackson has a fully open door to commit but it wouldn’t be a shock if he did. The MSU staff has followed the Mishawaka point guard about as closely as any ’13 player not named Jabari Parker or James Young. In just the past few weeks, both Dane Fife and Tom Izzo checked in to give Jackson more scouting and must have appreciated what they saw. The apparent end of Dwaun Anderson’s brief time as a Spartan may been the last thing that pushed MSU to offer another guard. With Jackson on campus in a few days, this recruitment could get very interesting in a hurry. Jackson is also heavily involved with Notre Dame but he may have been biding his time waiting for an offer from the Green & White.
More after the jump...
Another confirmed visitor is 6’7” Tyler Wideman, a 2014 center from St. John, Indiana. As an AAU teammate of Drake Harris and high school player alongside Glenn Robinson Jr. (UM verbal), Wideman’s ties to the state of Michigan and its recruits is strong. Definitely a young player developing into his body, Wideman received praise last month from Brian Snow of Scout who said he was “is in much better shape, and is far more skilled than people give him credit for.” With his height, schools are probably going to watch how both his skill set and measurements progress but many schools are taking a look with a list including multiple schools from the Big Ten.
The list of players we know are arriving for Midnight Madness is still pretty small. Part of this is due to the fact that many candidates who MSU would love to get on campus are playing at a USA basketball camp this weekend. This includes big-time MSU targets like Jabari Parker, Tyus Jones, Jahlil Okafor, and Lansing hero Charles “Cha Cha” Tucker. I haven't seen the final word on James Young and Drake Harris. They're two people MSU would certainly welcome on Friday night. The site will be busy through the weekend so I'll add any noteworthy updates to the comment thread.
In more news, MSU is still actively pursuing Dominic Woodson, the 2013 big man from Texas who is now playing at Vermont Academy. Woodson does not look like a classic MSU recruit. It is rare that MSU brings in players from far outside a Midwest geographic circle and the list of athletes recruited out of a prep school is miniscule. While all true, don’t let that dissuade you about MSU’s level of seriousness with Woodson. The Man Himself (aka Tom Izzo) traveled to Vermont Academy last week to pay a visit. Though the previous weeks have been the thick of a Contact Period designed for that purpose, I wouldn’t discount for a moment the gesture of our head coach making this special trip to see a player.
During the Sept. 9 - Oct. 5 contact period, MSU extended another 2014 offer to Jaquan Lyle, a tall, very talented wing/PG from Evansville. Though the 2014 rankings are embryonic, he’s generally considered a Top 10-20 caliber player in another loaded Indiana class. Lyle is a holdout as Tom Crean has already secured early verbals from two of the Hoosier state’s top sophomores, Trey Lyles and James Blackmon. There is some talk that Lyle could be a unique recruit and not follow the long train of players (Zeller, Yogi, Hollowell…) to stay and play for Indiana. However, that pull is still very strong and, at last word, Lyle’s only potential Friday visit was to Hoosier Hysteria in Bloomington.
It’s a good thing Tom Izzo loves football because he’s been watching a lot of it. After attending multiple Hamilton Southeastern football games to see Gary Harris, Izzo has been taking in games at Grand Rapids Christian to watch Drake Harris. Jeff Chaney of Mlive/GR Press had a lengthy feature on Drake’s success on the gridiron. Both he and his coach Don Fellows spoke about Harris’ recruitment and his potential as a dual sport star:
"The good part is, Michigan State has already offered him a scholarship (to play basketball), and coach Izzo encouraged him to play football," Fellows said. "Coach Izzo says he likes the toughness that football instills in kids. He is from Iron Mountain, and shared his football experiences. He is a multi-sport guy, and is one of the few basketball guys that encourages kids to play multiple sports. And he has had a couple of guys that played in the Final Four that played football at Michigan State."
As Harris also says in the article, as only a high school sophomore, his future plans are still in doubt so it’s hard to know how serious this dual-sport talk is. One interpretation is that it’s a smart recruiting tactic to not only appeal to Drake Harris as a fan of MSU basketball but also as a football player at a moment with Spartan football ascending yet in-state allegiances still very much divided with the University of Michigan.
D'vauntes Smith-Rivera has been busy but not with MSU. In a small irony, he is being recruited by Georgetown along with fellow guard Dwaun Anderson. It appears that DSR now has a list cut down to about half a dozen teams with no mention of MSU. Once he was unable to visit before departing for Oak Hill Academy, his involvement with MSU faded. Though once exciting, this recruitment is done for the Spartans.
I can’t do this and not mention the biggest MSU recruiting target since at least Delvon Roe, if not back to Shannon Brown in 2003. Jabari Parker gave a quick yet revealing interview to Reggie Rankin of ESPN ($$). Jabari still lists MSU as one of the schools recruiting him the hardest yet omitted Duke. An absent-minded slip or a telling revelation? I don’t expect much to shake-up this recruitment and the fall 2012 decision. The only thing I could see moving the timetable is if the Parker’s are content that they’ve done enough to get recognition for other Simeon players looking for scholarships. Still, would that be enough to get Jabari to pull the trigger for some optimistic Spartan fans? Probably not. If you think the Gary Harris recruiting scrutiny was bad, just wait for Jabari Parker next year.
Yep, Gary Harris. You may have already caught the big news that Tom Crean and crew self-reported a secondary violation for speaking to Gary directly on the first day such contact was prohibited by the NCAA. Indiana fans are welcome to go round and round about how important this is to a school already on probation for recruiting violations but either Tom Crean was reckless in breaking this rule or he and the people in charge of keeping him straight on such things were momentarily negligent. Either way, the error is unflattering. Eamonn Brennan of ESPN clearly agrees but Dave Telep? Not as much. As a matter of consequence to us with joking aside, I don’t expect this admission to shift anything in the Gary Harris race. Why would this sway the Harris’s away from Indiana? I’ve heard some spin to that regard but it makes no sense to me. At this point, who you want to believe leads for Gary Harris is just based on who you wish to listen to. Despite some heavy IU homer optimism that Hoosier Hysteria will overwhelm Gary, gain his commitment, and prevent him from ever seeing East Lansing for an official, I would bet against it. In this regard, the scheduled OV to Kentucky on Oct. 22 may help MSU. It’s one more element to keep Harris from making a decision with more final steps left to go. In addition, every motion up until now has suggested that the Harris family wants to fully follow the recruiting process and be absolutely thorough. To stop short at the last minute would be a sudden curveball. Regardless of which school Gary Harris chooses, I doubt we know until the second week of November.
Oh, John Beilein and UM are in great shape with Mitch McGary, a potential one-and-done post player considered among the best in the 2012 class. Yes, mgoblog, we are obsessed with you, the sky is falling, and you shall hear no protesting. Is it gametime yet?