I've been a loyal follower and fan of TOC going on 5 years now and I've never done a fan post so I figured I'm long overdue.
It has been an interesting transition when thinking about the attitude and demeanor of Izzo's incoming classes. The "Lucas, Summers, Allen, (don't forget: Thornton)" class was obviously star studded and did a lot of good things. But that being said, my opinion is that they never really got full control over their egos, and as future classes began to blend with those core three, things began to fall apart in the locker-room. You could sense that when it finally became Draymond's team during the end of his college career that team chemistry started to become more of a factor on the court.
Not taking anything away from the recruits that have come in and achieved great things both as a team and individually, along with the developmental growth of players like Nix/Payne/Green/Appling...etc; but it seems that brotherly team chemistry hasn't visibly translated to play on the court at a high level in some time. The main culprit being a particularly troublesome void in leadership (a good mix of pseudo-leaders, but no defining ones outside of Green).
What gets me especially jazzed up about this incoming class is the abundance of quality intangible characteristics they all possess. Izzo has obviously gone back to basics valuing the workman-like chip-on-the-shoulder type high school seniors in a big way. I'm including some quotables below:
- Lourawls Narin:
"He has all the intangibles that coach Izzo and Michigan State value...He's a tough player, he's a fighter, he's not afraid to mix it up, he's very strong and tough."
"He doesn't mind being vocal, he's passionate. He's not afraid to stand by himself on anything...if he believes it, he's going to say it and stand by it.
"I'm a little guy, so I know the only way I can be successful at this level is if I stand out from everybody else...I think that's where I get my feistiness from - being a leader. I just want my presence to be felt in a different way."
(On prediction of a National Title during his tenure) "I wouldn't say it if I didn't belive it can be done."
- Javon Bess:
"He probably has the best work ethic of any player I've coached in 24 years. He loves the gym, loves the workout, loves the process of getting better. I would put his work ethic up against anybody's."
"The versatility of his game is unbelievable. He takes it to the basket very well, he rebounds, he defends, he passes extremely well. At the end of every game he has every column in the stat sheet covered."
"Once the season's been done, he hasn't relaxed. He's been working and working and working. So you can see that in those all-star games maybe some kids are relaxing a bit before taking off for school where he's continuing to get better."
- Marvin Clark being a former teammate of Narin will already have a foundation of chemistry to continue building on in East Lansing. Clark has had to deal with incredible obstacles in his young life and seems to be very mature for his age because of his journey.
Again, what excites me most about this incoming core of Narin/Bess/Clark is the feeling that we're going to have a lot of the intangible aspects that have been lacking in previous years. Denzel and Trice are poised to be great mentors to those young folks. Combine that with some sprinkled star-studded talent in Deyonta Davis and others in future classes and you really start to see the foundation for something special being built, making you do a double take to Narin's National Championship comment. So excuse me while I slip on these shades because the future in East Lansing is so bright that I feel like I can see the reflection off of Magic Johnson's statue all the way here in NYC.