What better time than the height of football recruiting to take a long overdue look at the basketball recruiting scene! Still looking for a body, recruiting 2014 isn't over (not a surprise) and the 2015 class is murky but MSU has one recruit in the fold with Deyonta Davis, a long, tall player who can guard the rim but also step out and shoot on offense. I don't know about you but after the epic waiting game of 2014, it feels nice to have one player committed, especially one with such potential who will probably only continue to get national recognition. Onto the breakdown:
Michigan State appears to be a frontrunner to land Montaque "Teki" Gill-Caesar, the big 6'5" guard out of Huntington Prep. Gill-Caesar is technically still a member of the 2015 class and ranked in the Top 25 but it is widely believed that he'll take the opportunity to reclassify to the 2014 class and enter college next fall. Jerry Meyer, Director of Basketball Scouting for 247Sports, has spoken with Teki over the past month and is convinced that he'll pick MSU over Kentucky, Memphis, and the other suitors. Clearly, this player is excited about stepping in immediately for NBA-bound Gary Harris. It's unclear how his talent stacks up against the loaded 2014 class but he'd be a powerful addition to keep MSU in the top half of the conference next season.
Adding Gill-Caesar would not present any problems. Javon Bess stated that MSU was upfront with him about their desire to add another 2014 wing and continued to pursue Devin Booker, Trevon Bluiett, and James Blackmon after Bess's commitment. Landing Gill-Caesar would absolutely a bolster a wing position already filled by Denzel Valentine, Alvin Ellis III, and Bess next season.
One of the more interesting developments is MSU's position with Saginaw guard Eric Davis. Though the early word, including statements from Davis himself, suggested that he preferred leaving the state for his college career, it looks like MSU is squarely in the running to keep Davis in the Mitten State after a strong visit last month. Davis would provide a nice compliment as a 6'3" combo guard either playing alongside Lourawls Nairn or switching out for him. Though I've heard detractors about Davis' game, he is having an impressive junior year and recently had a lights-out game on Friday where he put 43 points on Saginaw High. Performances like that, coupled with an offer list including Kansas, Iowa State, and Illinois, demonstrate that Davis is a talent and a key Spartan target.
Michigan transplant Trevor Manuel is still out playing at Oak Hill Academy and has received some favorable praise and has offers Michigan State, Oregon, Michigan, North Carolina State, Wake Forest, Providence and Eastern Michigan. Though MSU could certainly take two bigs in this class, it's unclear if Manuel is still a priority. He's not a true post player and often moves out on the perimeter. He's being sold as an ultra-lanky, tall wing forward and he has great potential if he can continue to excel in that role. If he doesn't, he looks more like a floating, skinny post.
Michigan State is still in the running for Indiana guard Jalen Coleman. Coleman is high on Michigan and being pursued to stay close by Tom Crean as well. Viewed as a big time scorer with range, Coleman will have to work to maintaining his game at the next level as an undersized shooting guard. Like many players in his position, one selling point from a school may be assurances about time at the point guard position.
Jalen Brunson could be viewed as the more likely alternative to Jalen Coleman if Michigan State is really in stronger standing with the Illinois floor general. The rep on Brunson is that he's a lefty who won't wow you with athleticism but possesses good court vision and scoring ability. Over at ESPN3, you can watch a game video of Brunson's matchup last weekend with Tyler Ulis where Jalen's team gets the victory in what some called a battle of "the state's two best guards." Brunson is also being recruited by Michigan, Purdue, and others but apparently doesn't have a great relationship with Illinois and they are not considered a strong candidate right now.
There's a number of players Michigan State has scouted, contacted, and brought in but it's still not clear who they're going to go down the wire with. Coach Izzo has recruited national five-stars Charles Matthews and Carlton Bragg, welcomed guards Hyron Edwards and Kyle Ahrens, and has contacted big forward Henry Ellenson out of Wisconsin. This class should "shape up" a lot more this summer when Coach Izzo stalks the AAU circuit.
Caleb Swanigan is ranked in the Top 40 by numerous recruiting services based on his imposing Nix-esque size and diverse offensive game within 15 feet. Though one should never read too much from a player's twitter feed, Swanigan actively roots for the Spartans and they could be seen as a leader for his pledge. He's playing in Ft. Wayne now and recently hit a game winning three of all things which you can watch below:
Despite the presence of national Top 5 player Josh Jackson over in Detroit, Michigan State is not putting all of their eggs into one basket when recruiting 2016 wings. They recently welcomed Jayson Tatum for an unofficial visit to East Lansing. It's great to hear that a player would travel from St. Louis on his own dime to visit MSU but you can't take that too far (Tyus Jones is one player who took a distant unofficial but ultimately not an official visit to MSU). Tatum recently had John Calipari in to watch him and planned on attending a Wildcat game soon so expect Kentucky to be a factor. It's unclear how serious this mutual interest is with MSU but Tatum's recruitment will be full blueblood.
Cassius Winston of Detroit Jesuit looks to be Coach Izzo's point guard of choice for the sophomore class and Winston is a solid Top 25 player. Winston scored close to 40 points on Brother Rice over the weekend and can definitely produce despite Travis Trice-esque size. He's also a University of Michigan priority and John Beilein took in one of this games recently.
PrepHoopsTV has fresh video of Winston in action:
And also here:
While recruiting Teki Gill-Caesar out at Huntington Prep, Coach Izzo has been able to keep an eye on Miles Bridges, an elite small forward formerly of Flint. Bridges' relationship to the state should help MSU and Bridges has mentioned the positives of playing back closer to home. Predictably, he was able to make it to MSU during a holiday return home and take a full unofficial visit. His offer list is short but many teams are keeping an eye on him. Miles stated his fondness for playing at other schools recruiting him like Indiana and Kansas.
A sophomore mixtape is here:
Though only a freshman, Brian "Tugs" Bowen is already on the MSU radar and has had an offer from the Spartans since last year. At the time, SpartanTailgate 24/7 reported that Bowen could be considered "a very hard Spartan lean." He's a major recruit with attention already from Kentucky, Lousiville, Ohio State, Florida, Missouri, and many others. Bowen is a young, lanky wing who can rebound and score. It's hard to project exactly where he'll end up on the court this early but he'd fit in at Michigan State either as a big shooting guard or a combo forward. It'll be interesting to watch how his intention to pick a school in years reconciles with his status as a " hard Spartan lean."
Though I'm not an insider, there's a handful of players I feel particularly good about in terms of becoming Spartans. All this could change in a beat but MSU is the team to bet on for Gill-Caesar, especially if Jerry Meyer is correct that Kentucky is not in the forefront of his thoughts. Our Spartans are also early favorites for Caleb Swanigan and a super-early favorite for Brian Bowen. If you were asking me to handicap these recruitments, those are the three I feel the best about.
I didn't talk much about the "big prize" in all this, Detroit Consortium's Josh Jackson, a do-it-all scoring, rebounding wing. I haven't read/heard anything solid except that MSU will be a player. Jackson is a "pick your school" guy so it will be up to him and his family who he sticks with deeper into the recruiting process. Right now, it sounds like anything people offer is pure speculation. He's not a done-deal to Kentucky, Kansas, Louisville, or anyone else. With Jackson free to sign an LOI in a year and a half, there's no rush to let this play out.