Josh Jackson 2016 Detroit Consortium with a dunk at summer league (via PrepHoopsTV2)
It was an exciting week to follow Michigan State’s basketball recruiting. The public noise is getting louder and louder that Tom Izzo could be on his way towards monster classes in 2013 and 2014. Though fans have always been hopeful that MSU would land one or even two of the elite players they’re pursuing, we’re hearing more and more news that the Spartans are in great shape with many of those classes’ best players. Even if all of them don’t ultimately pledge to the Spartans, it’s hard to imagine Coach Izzo and staff striking out on every one. Two or three of Jabari Parker, James Young, Tyus Jones, Cliff Alexander, and Jahlil Okafor would be outstanding. Factor in players like Kevon Looney, Demetrius Jackson, Paul White, and the already on-board Drake Harris and MSU has the inside track to great things.
Anyone still skeptical about MSU being a big-time player for Jahlil Okafor was recently visited with more evidence to the contrary. Okafor spoke with Gary Randazoo of Arizona 24/7 ($) and made an impression mentioning Michigan State out of pack (Arizona, OSU, others) as a school doing a great job of recruiting him. Over the weekend, our coach kept a close eye on Jahlil as he scouted the Mac Irvin Fire at the Peach Jam.
More after the jump, starting with Tyus Jones...
Watching players over the summer and giving them intense individual attention has been part of how MSU has wrapped up Branden Dawson and Gary Harris in previous offseasons. It sounds like no one is getting more appearances by Izzo than Jahlil Okafor’s friend Tyus Jones. Coach Izzo's presence was noted at the event and it made a statement about how much MSU would like to add Jones to the Green & White. It’s easy to see why as Jones was incredibly impressive last weekend. Tyus lead the Peach Jam event in scoring and had descriptions thrown at him like "sensational," "running a clinic," and "best floor leader in high school hoops." Though many fans have been skeptical about the Okafor/Jones package deal, they continue to be steadfast that it isn’t a ruse or pipedream. Jones recently reiterated to Rivals ($) that they are "very serious about it, very serious. We talk about it a lot…" I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Jahlil is talking about visiting MSU and Ohio State soon. Those appear to be two schools they both favor and I think some tealeaf reading supports that idea that their recruiting plans are slightly coordinated. If a school can gain a commitment from one, they have a powerful, powerful recruiter in their corner for the other. That school could very well be Michigan State.
Talk of another package deal came out over the weekend. James Young spoke with Zagsblog about the possibility of playing with AAU Family teammate at Michigan State or possibly Syracuse. Clark is a point guard from Romulus who has had a huge summer and worked his way into the national conversation. You may have caught a quick blurb about him in a linked article about James Young from a week ago:
- Wes Clark (11.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.7 apg): Young’s AAU teammate, Clark is currently one of the most underrated point guard prospects. He isn’t nationally ranked (which will change very soon), but with his athleticism, quickness, ability to penetrate and finish at the rim, and range on his jump shot, Clark should have a much higher-profile come August.
Since then, the Wes Clark love-train has continued to roll downhill. A predictably sympathetic Vince Baldwin of the Midwest PrepSpotlight relayed this:
College Coach "Tyus Jones is the best PG at the @nike Peach Jam, after him the best PG I saw was Wes Clark from The Family"— Vince Baldwin (@PrepSpotlight) July 22, 2012
Overall, he has impressed almost anyone who watched him this month and now has A-10, Big East, and Big Ten interest. Can he play his way to a Michigan State offer? That seems dubious but with MSU keeping a more and more distant eye on Demetrius Jackson, there may be room somehow for another point guard in the class. Still, bringing in Clark, Young, and Parker would leave MSU one over for 2013 so they’d have to be planning for attrition. Carrying over Wes Clark in 2014 might also crunch the future scholarship numbers. However, fast rising in-state prospects have caught MSU’s attention before and this wouldn’t be unprecedented. In the same article linked at the start, Wes Clark was clear on how he feels, "Michigan State is like our home school so I think about them more than probably anybody," he said. Stay tuned!
Some quick notes:
Cliff Alexander told Alex Kline of the Recruit Scoop ($) that Kentucky and Michigan State are his two leaders. He didn't hesitate to talk about his close relationship Coach Izzo and the MSU family. Now that Kentucky appears to have made up major ground on MSU, this may end up being a power struggle between Alexander's heart and relationships with Michigan State and the NBA-friendly reputation of Coach Calipari and his AAU program the Derrick Rose All-Stars' close connection to the Kentucky coach.
In a category I would call "intriguing but by no means definitive," Kevon Looney updated his current offers in a small, quoteless note to ESPN ($) and included MSU on the list. Without more information and corroboration, it's difficult to take that to the bank but Looney has been great this summer and MSU might heighten the attention on the 2014 Wisconsin small forward. According to multiple twitter sources, MSU did attend Looney's games over the weekend in Milwaukee.
Michigan State watched Diamond Stone, a top 5 2015 center out of the Milwaukee area. Though this is another recruitment in which Kentucky is expected to be thick in the mix, MSU has gotten involved early.
I prefer to be simply aware of even younger players but this is a name to know and wait on – Josh Jackson, the player dunking in the lead video. He’s a freshman from the Detroit area and already 6’6" and considered a national elite player. I’ll leave it to Jeff Borzello to say the rest:
Josh Jackson is only 2016 (yes, just finished middle school), but he's an absolute stud. Smooth, finishes well, can run break. 6-6 and long.— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) July 18, 2012
Michigan State continued to watch James Young and it doesn’t look like they’ve relinquished him to Kentucky. Still, this looks like a recruiting race in which Coach Izzo will have to work some Spartan magic to win Young back from the Wildcats. His most recent quotes make plain his desire to be a "one-and-done" and it sounds like a quick trip through Lexington might be what he's looking for.
Rounding out with something good, one more report came out affirming Michigan State's excellent standing in the recruitment of Jabari Parker. Roy Schmidt, a man very familiar with Chicago recruiting, went public with some strong words suggesting that Parker's "Top 10" might not really be ten at all but more a Top 3 - MSU, Duke, and Kentucky. The key quote in his article:
As for Michigan State, Schmidt said: "Jabari’s relationship with [head coach Tom] Izzo is probably as strong as any head coach out there, which is the No. 1 factor driving the recruitment. Plus, it’s the closest to home out of all the major contenders. The family would have no problem seeing him play."
The emphasis is mine and I think that's the key thing that will seal this when Parker's decision comes in the fall.
For the last word, we'll hand it over to Dwayne Stephens and Dane Fife:
Feels good to be home!Almost finished with summer recruiting!I feel like we are having a very good month.— Dwayne Stephens (@DjStephens31) July 23, 2012
Huge week for the Spartans! Covered a lot of ground in recruiting. Team coming together. Lucky and proud to be in the Green and white. #Dawg— Dane Fife (@CoachDaneFife) July 23, 2012