MSU Basketball Recruiting Round-Up (3/8/11)

It wasn't long after the loss on Saturday that it started to sound like an appealing idea to look towards the future a bit and talk recruiting.  Things are getting serious in the 2013 class as the top players in Michigan work to separate themselves and each prove that he deserves an offer from the state's best programs.  Izzo and staff have been giving them attention and showing up to check out games.  Assistant Head Coach Mark Montgomery made it in to see Monte Morris on a hot night and earlier in the week Tom Izzo was in the building for Chandler Park Academy to watch Derrick Walton.  All due respect to Denzel Watts and Cha Cha Tucker, but it appears that Walton and Morris are the consensus 1a and 1b point guards in the state right now.  Monte Morris in particular has been a stat-stuffer recently going for 24 against Montrose and often pushing or hitting double digits in assists and rebounds.  Eric Woodyard had some fun writing about Flint Beecher's win last night with a retro-commercial allusion.  Wearing some new red sneakers, Morris had a caveat emptor statline of 26 points, 10 assists, 7 rebounds, 5 steals, and 3 blocks.  Regardless of those numbers' exact accuracy, he's doing a solid job.

In some rougher news, Medina forward and 2012 MSU verbal Kenny Kaminski suffered an Achilles heel injury at the end of Medina's victory over Elyria.  Unfortunately, without his presence the Medina Bees were eliminated from the Ohio state tournament in the following game against Lorain.  Detailed information about KK's injury has yet to be released and all I can confirm is that he's in a walking boot.  Obviously, for Kenny, the Medina team, and his future at MSU, we wish him the best in recovering from this injury.

The main word out of Garry Harris Watch 2011 is the rise of Louisville as a contender for his services.  For the longest time, the common wisdom was that the competition was a two way race between Indiana and MSU.  Lately, more and more observers and commentators have grown convinced the Louisville is a real player.  Jody Demling of the Courier-Journal spotted Rick Pitino and an assistant checking out his game recently.  Most of the WOTS has suggested that Harris will wait to announce a decision close to the November signing period, so we'll all have to hold tight until then.

Throwing a new-ish name out there for you, watch James Young of Troy.  Steve Bell recently ranked him the No. 1 Michigan wing ahead of the usual suspects Elbert "EC" Matthews and Steven Haney Jr.  He's the hot player in recruiting and coaches from the big schools, including MSU, have been spotted at his games.  Young is 6'5" and a big-time scorer who's had a breakout year.  When I heard his name I dug up this older article from December.  I mention it because it does include this interesting quote:

"I’m a big fan of Michigan State,” he said. “I really like the way they play. It would be an honor to play there in the future, if things turned out that way.”

Room for a 2013 wing at Michigan State is still a dicey prospect but if Izzo wants someone and goes close to home, this could end up being your man. 

Dontel Highsmith has helped his Dowagiac team go on a nice four game winning streak.  He scored 19 in the most recent victory over Paw Paw.  This article from the local paper features a cool shot of Dontel going up to the rim.  The South Bend Tribune has a nice feature that points out that Dontel is coming off a serious knee injury suffered last summer.  If he continues to regain explosiveness as he recovers and proves himself a next-level point guard and not an under-sized wing, Highsmith may put himself into the conversation with Morris and Walton.   

Last month, ESPN did a long feature on Jabari Parker.  If you read it, you'll get a lot of revealing background about his life, family, and what its like to be a big-time recruit in Chicago.  From a recruiting perspective, one of the most interesting nuggets is that Jabari's father intends for him to wait until his senior year to make a verbal pledge.  Not only is that a long way off but it will be interesting to see how it effects a team like MSU.  Will Izzo hold a spot that long with limited scholarships to dish out?

Branden Dawson became MSU's second McDonald's All-American signee in a row last month following in the steps of Keith Appling in 2010.  Despite his team's struggles during the season, Lew Wallace won their sectional match-up to continue their bid to surpass last year's state runner-up outcome.   Dawson's output has been consistent and productive encouraging MSU fans that he may win a starting spot on the wing next year.

Travis Trice continues to play like the hidden jewel of Tom Izzo's 2011 recruiting class. He was named Division I POTY for the Southwest District in Ohio.  It's fun to note that one of his key rivals for the state-wide Mr. Basketball award will be Trey Burke of Columbus Northland, who has verbally committed to The University of Michigan. In the words of Coach Izzo, "let's get the rivalry {BAMM} REALLY GOING!"

I'm cheating a little bit for brevity's sake but Brandan Kearney and Dwaun Anderson were both named finalists for the 2011 Mr. Basketball Award here in Michigan.  Mick McCabe has a comprehensive look at all the finalists over at the Free Press.  I have to believe that no one has caught LaDontae Henton and he'll be your man in the end.  While we're talking about him, Brandan Kearney also has an awesome jacket {HT: Sam Hosey}.

Matt Costello is averaging 24 points a game as junior big man in Class A and, to put it straight, is still really good.  NBC 25 has this short video piece highlighting Bay City Western's most recent win as they prep for the playoffs. 

Denzel Valentine didn't make a huge impact on the statsheet in his Sexton team's 88-73 loss to Lansing Eastern last week but he did receive some credit and recognition for banging down low and taking on the nearly impossible task of slowing down LaDontae Henton.  Valentine had a better showing and demonstrated his versatility recording 13 points, nine assists, eight rebounds and six steals last night in a win.

Con-T reminds me that I should mention that J.P. Tokoto committed to North Carolina, choosing them over Wisconsin and other finalists.  MSU was said to be involved with him early on but the relationship quickly evaporated and I hadn't heard MSU mentioned in months.

All for now, at least until we make the NCAA tournament.  We are making the tournament, right?

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