It may seem odd that State now has more basketball than football commitments in the month of August, but PG/wing Denzel Valentine became the second player to join the 2012 recruiting class. As mentioned before, the 6'5", 205 lb. guard from Lansing is the son of former MSU player and current Sexton coach Carlton Valentine. Like Travis Trice, Valentine improved his stock with a great July on the AAU circuit, therefore his current recruiting rankings won't show his current ability. Nevertheless, here they are:
RIVALS: No ranking
SCOUT: No ranking
ESPN: Grade of 89, #32 SG
Like Trice, expect Valentine to be ranked pretty strongly when the first rankings come out. Even in May, he was impressing, prompting lifeinlansing.com writer St8IzGr8 to make this statement:
Smart, smart, SMART player. Can't do enough justice to that fact, that Denzel so clearly thinks the game. He never seems to be in a hurry. The Stangs have to use him as something of a point forward, because they lack size, but everything runs through him. He sees the floor exceptionally well...I had him with THREE no-look passes out of post ups for baskets. His court vision is outstanding.
You know how "Draymond Green has a high basketball IQ" is entering the pantheon of announcer talking points (number one all time: anything about the war drill, edging out "Drew Neitzel is ambidextrous")? The good news for them is that when Valentine dons the green and white in 2012, they can just pencil his name in over Green's. Joe Stapleton of UMHoops saw the same thing when he saw Valentine at the Adidas Shootout in July:
Denzel Valentine: Denzel had a good game in the one I saw him play, which is becoming the routine. He shot the ball well and showed off his post moves. One thing I haven’t mentioned: I think he gets to be a better passer every game. He runs point for the Mustangs, and I he might never be a true point guard because of his quickness but he’s certainly adept enough to initiate an offense, the vision is there.
UMHoops also has AAU highlights of Valentine here for your perusal. This improvement throughout July led to offers from not only MSU but Michigan, Wisconsin, and Georgetown as well. Due to his aforementioned court intelligence, Valentine is going to draw comparisons from many to be the guard version of Draymond Green. These comparisons are apt, but Valentine's also strong enough to muscle inside and grab a few rebounds. From UMHoops again:
He wasn’t running the point as much because he was in with Harrison-Docks most of the time, but he still managed to get a few dimes in. He rebounded really well in the game I saw, banging down low with the bigs. That’s something you can’t forget: Valentine is a big, strong guy and he works his butt off.
With Valentine's commitment, one spot remains open in 2012. The most likely candidates for the spot are Matt Costello or Gary Harris, and with all the wing commitments as of late, Costello might be the most logical addition to the class. However, if some attrition were to occur (example - Payne going pro after two years Edit - both Costello and Harris would have to wait two years to commit though for this to be a reality, so this won't happen. HT to KJ for the heads-up), a spot could open up. Stranger things have happened, and the possibility could still exist for the Spartans to take Costello and Harris depending on events.