This came up in the comments of the B1G Awards post in talking about the impressive year Gary Harris has had. I'd put his year in the top 5 all-time freshman years at MSU, but here's a more realistic and fun argument/discussion topic: picking a 5-member All-Freshman team from the Izzo Era (1995-96 to present). Here are the ground rules:
- Only the freshman season matters, so disregard everything that happened after that (becoming a POY, All-American, getting drafted in the NBA, etc)
- The 5-person team does NOT need to represent an actual lineup
- The player's freshman year had to have been while Izzo was head coach (so if you were thinking of Quinton Brooks or Jamie Feick, sorry)
Here are my picks:
- Gary Harris ('12-'13): Duh. MSU's only Freshman of the Year since the award was introduced. Averaging the most points (13.2) of any freshman under Izzo. Has started all year on a top-10 caliber team.
- Kalin Lucas ('07-'08): Became a starter halfway through the year, helped lead the team to the Sweet 16, averaged 10.3 points and 3.8 assists. Had brilliant games against Pitt in the NCAA Tourney and Texas at the Palace.
Raymar Morgan ('06-'07): Started immediately in this "rebuilding" year, averaged 11.7 points, 5.2 rebounds, and over 27 minutes per game.
- Zach Randolph ('00-'01): Izzo's only one-and-done. Z-Bo was essentially a 6th man on probably the most talented team of Izzo's career, but still managed to average 10.8 points and 6.7 rebounds while playing just 20 minutes per game. Also led the team in offensive rebounds. Crazy.
- Chris Hill ('01-'02): Hardest pick of the 5 for me. Team's second leading scorer with 11.5 ppg and set freshman record for 3-pointers with 66, while shooting over 44% on 3s. Started 12 games.
Mateen Cleaves ('96-'97): Seems like sacrilege to leave him off of ANY list involving MSU basketball, but his first year, to me, doesn't *quite* stack up against those 5 (10.2 points and 5.0 assists, but only shot 40% from the field and 23.7% on 3s). Plus, the team wasn't as good and didn't make the Tourney. And my memory of that year isn't nearly as good as the subsequent years.
- Charlie Bell ('97-'98): 9.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, started every game.
- Branden Dawson ('11-'12): 8.4 points, 4.5 rebounds, 26 blocks, started every game.
- Andre Hutson ('97-'98): 7.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, started 26 games.
- Paul Davis ('02-'03): 7.8 points, 4.7 rebounds, started 5 games.
- Shannon Brown ('03-'04): 7.9 points, started 24 games.
- Kelvin Torbert ('01-'02): 8.2 points, started 26 games.
Feel free to pick apart my 5 or post your own in the comments.