Andy Lyons - Getty Images
The highest-rated senior in the state of Michigan made his decision today and chose Kentucky as expected. Michigan State followed Young closely throughout the year and Coach Izzo and staff suffered a rare recruiting miss in pursuing the five-star shooting guard.
After months of speculation that James Young was a done-deal to the Wildcats with only a few brief flashes of doubt, Spartan fans finally got their answer today when Young made a public commitment to Kentucky passing on invitations from the Spartans, Kansas, and Syracuse. The rumor mill had all but closed up the ambiguity by the time of the announcement this afternoon. SpartanTailgate 24/7 reported a rumor that Young had tried to commit already on his official visit to Lexington and then Rico Beard passed along sources saying that MSU had backed out of the recruitment at the last minute. If accurate, it’s highly likely that those two events were related. Though Coach Izzo and his staff are fine to recruit players who are interested in other schools, they probably had little patience for a player actively ready to pledge for someone else.
There’s some understandable regret among Spartan fans. It’s not often that the state of Michigan produces a national top 10 talent like Young and many were excited about the idea of protecting home-state hoops by bringing him to East Lansing. There’s really no doubt about his basketball skills. Young’s 49-point game against powerful Clarkston last season has been called "legendary" with good reason and he possesses the tools to fulfill his goal of playing one year of college basketball before entering the NBA Draft. It’s also a rarity these days that MSU misses on a prime recruiting target, which Young appeared to be during the summer and fall of this year.
After slow-playing Young due to academic uncertainties and uneven efforts, MSU went all-in pursuing him as part of a small 2013 class. As most who followed his recruitment closely know, by the time MSU made their move the once partisan MSU-fan had become transfixed by the NBA-machine, National Champion Wildcats. There’s no doubt that this could be a fun storyline going forward for college basketball fans. MSU and Kentucky both expect loaded squads in 2013 and their paths could cross when the NCAA Tournament gets under way. I’d just enjoy that drama; there’s no reason to trash Young for his choice. While some players make shallow declarations about 4-year stays in school and academics, James was almost always straight-forward with his goal of a quick path to the pros. Despite the rumors and prior sins around John Calipari’s programs, there’s no way to argue with his success of getting players quickly to the NBA. With the depth at MSU and the tenor of Izzo’s program, this might not have been the right fit.
Of course, there’s good news too. Jabari Parker appears to have finally settled his official visit to Michigan State for a week from this weekend and we’re all hoping that the swelling rumors about MSU’s position near the front of the pack come through. We’re also starting to hear more and more about athletic Memphis forward Jonathan Williams who recently took an interest-affirming official visit to East Lansing. There’s room for both players in the class and they’d be joined by what’s likely to be an already stacked roster of Spartan talent in 2013-2014. Young, despite his immense ability, was really a luxury for MSU.