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2013 MSU Basketball Recruiting Hotlist

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With some new offers possibly around the corner and commitments to follow, it’s time to take a look at this year’s 2013 MSU Basketball Recruiting Hotlist. The dynamic in this class could not be more different than 2012. When talking about recruiting last summer, there was only a handful of likely Spartans in the mix for three to four spots. Though pressure was tight for room, it was tight amongst a small number of players. For 2013, there is a wealth of players to talk about; at least a dozen names are viable MSU targets receiving interest and potentially in line for offers. Available at MSU are anywhere from the one to three likely openings, making the importance of getting the right players even more intense. Reading through this list, predicting who will end up wearing the G&W is much harder than it has been in the past. That, for me, is part of the intrigue.

After the jump, there’s some commentary about the class by me, then the list of potential recruits with information on each individual player. It's a deep list but all of these players have MSU interest and can't be ruled out to join the Michigan State Spartans' future squad.

As a reminder, here’s how the roster for 2013-2014 shapes up right now:
PGs (2)
Appling (Sr), Trice (Jr.)
Wings (5)
Byrd (Rs Jr.), Dawson (Jr.), Kearney (Jr.), Anderson (Jr.), Valentine (Soph.)
Bigs (4)
Payne (Sr.), Gauna (Rs. Jr), Costello (So.), Kaminski (So.)

As I started thinking about this class (long enough ago as to be embarrassed), the need for a point guard seemed pretty clear. Keith Appling will have one year left and it makes sense to groom a player for a year to replace him and back-up Travis Trice. Recently, I’ve had a bit of a change of heart. MSU has recruited a very versatile set of players and the need for a true point in 2013 may not be what it once appeared. Part of this will depend on Denzel Valentine. Many have speculated that he could be a legitimate option to run the offense and handle the ball. In combination with Trice and Appling, that may be all you need for 2013-2014. The decision could also depend on whether the staff sees Trice as a starting, 30mpg player by his senior year.

The point guard class is rich enough on its own merit to tempt in-state coaches to take a long look. You have at least four players – Derrick Walton, Monte Morris, Denzel Watts, and Charles "Cha Cha" Tucker – viewed as D1 targets with opinions varying on who of the four is the superior player. Add to that list two wings, E.C. Matthews and Dontel Highsmith, who could be combo-type players for the right program. So, on top of the "to PG or not to PG" question is the determination of who to pursue and in what fashion. Does Izzo wait to extend offers as the top dogs continue to distinguish themselves through the summer and into next season (I’m thinking an Alex Gauna/Jon Horford recruitment here)? Does he identify a favorite and focus all his attention? Or does he offer multiple players at the position knowing the program is assurded to get a good one on first-come basis?

Another question for the class is how does Izzo handle Jabari Parker. Up to now, Michigan State has been actively and sincerely pursuing Jabari despite the infrequency with which Izzo goes after top five recruits. Parker and his family have stated their intention to wait until his senior year to make a decision and Duke and Washington are viewed as leaders. Does Izzo hold a spot open and risk losing out on other players, or does he move on earlier and select someone to fill Parker’s needed role as a forward?

In addition, coaches are also always looking ahead. With a potential five-star wing in Drake Harris (2014) playing on the state's west coast, does MSU hold off an taking a pure wing in 2013 to entice Drake Harris to join a backcourt already full of upperclassmen?

All these uncertainties and scenarios are the intriguing aspect of recruiting that hooks me. This should definitely be a fun summer for fans who enjoy following basketball recruiting, including more competition between Tom Izzo and John Beilein. I don’t think it’ll be as easy for MSU going forward as it was to snatch Denzel Valentine and Matt Costello. Does JB win his first head-to-head recruiting matchup against the dean of the Big Ten by getting someone like Derrick Walton or Demetrius Jackson to wear maize and blue? Regardless, there's enough talent for not only MSU and UM to haul good to great classes but probably Oakland, Detroit, and some others as well.

I’ll be bold and make a few long-range predictions:

  1. James Young will end up a Spartan eventually. It may happen after Gary Harris goes elsewhere but I think his size, athleticism, and talent will be enough to earn him an offer. Though adding a wing isn’t a true need, Izzo is clearly willing to do it with Harris in 2012 and he may take the same opportunity with Young in the next class instead. If I’m surprised and Gary Harris goes for MSU, I will humbly revoke this prediction.

  2. MSU will continue to recruit after filling their two scholarship spots for 2013, leading to Trey Zeigler/Gary Harris-style speculation all over again about where a spot might come from. Dawson/ Payne to the NBA or a transferring wing will be the most likely explanations. This will happen one of two ways - either Izzo fills his backcourt spots and continue to pursue Jabari Parker into Parker's senior year, or Izzo will take a wing and post player then roll the dice on still being able to get a quality PG late in the deep class.

On to the list:

Point Guards



Dontel Highsmith
Ht: 6’2"
Wt: 175
School: Dowagiac Union (Dowagiac, MI)
ESPN: *** No. 36 Point Guard
Rivals: Unranked
Scout: Unranked

Highsmith may not be the hottest name in Michigan prep hoops but credit ESPN for noticing him and sneaking Dontel into the lower rungs of the Top 100. Highsmith (like Denzel Valentine) has been fighting through injuries for much of the time around his sophomore season. This has prevented him from showing off his quickness and athleticism. I think predicating a Valentine-esque take-off in offers and attention might be ambitious but if this young player can get healthy and display his skill at 100%, he may complicate the discussion of who are the best guards in Michigan. At 6’2", Highsmith possesses the size to offer one advantage over some of his shorter peers. Still, I wouldn’t call it unanimous that Highsmith is a PG at the next level though he may be able to play a combo role instead of being stuck as a small wing.

Addendum 5/9: Highsmith is still building offers but substantial MSU interest has not yet materialized.



Demetrius Jackson
Ht: 6’1
Wt: 180
School: Marian High School (Mishawaka, IN)
ESPN: Unranked
Rivals: **** No. 71 Overall
Scout: **** No. 84 Overall, No. 21 Point Guard

Jackson was a big-time May breakout player with a string of solid performances netting him increased college attention and prep scouting coverage. Indystar blog writers like Kyle Neddenriep are some of the best and most attentive at covering high school hopes and Jackson had his "you’ve made it" moment with Neddenriep's extended feature. One of the elements the article notes is how schools like Indiana and Michigan State have contacted Jackson recently in addition to his regular suitors of Michigan, Purdue, Notre Dame, and Xavier. According to Jackson’s coach, Rod Creech, Demetrius is the No. 1 target of John Beilein and UM. Known for being an unselfish player, Jackson has demonstrated ability both at the point and off the ball. MSU has had its share of flux between the PG and wing spots (think Walton/Neitzel, Neitzel/Lucas, Lucas/Lucious, Lucious/Appling), so whether Jackson is a "pure" poing may not be a limitation if the other parts of his game are in place.

Addendum 5/9: Jackson is still the recipient of interest from MSU, particularly assistant coach Dane Fife. Whether Jackson's offer is commitable or whether he is a Plan B is based on who you wish to believe. His stock continues to rise and MSU may turn up the heat if they get a negative feeling about Tyus Jones. The most likely destination for Jackson still sounds like Notre Dame.



Jalen James (Illinois Verbal)
Ht: 6’2"
Wt: 180
School: Chicago Hope Academy (Chicago, IL)
ESPN: *** No. 24 Point Guard
Rivals: **** No. 78 Overall
Scout: **** No. 85 Overall, No. 22 Point Guard

Despite the wealth of point guards already out there for Michigan State, it was recently reported by Jalen's coach that MSU has started to inquire about this Illinois product. In one interview that should excite MSU fans, James starts off by stating his love of defense and his ability to convert defensive pressure into points. According to InsideTheHall, his current offers are Baylor and Cleveland State but the Big Ten has coming calling with looks from Illinois, Wisconsin, Northwestern, and Michigan. UM Hoops has recent video from Spiece.



Monte "Man Man" Morris
Ht: 6’1
Wt: 175
School: Beecher High School (Flint, MI)
ESPN: *** No. 20 Point Guard, No. 99 Overall
Rivals: Unranked
Scout: **** No. 50 Overall, No. 11 Point Guard

Morris’ lack of national rankings are deceiving. I think most observers would put him close to the top of the Michigan point guard food chain right next to Derrick Walton. Whereas Walton is known for what he helps others to do with superb court vision, Morris is acclaimed for some serious "with the ball" ability such as an impeccable handle moving around the court. Morris also carries a solid frame and should mature into a quick player strong enough to bang with bigger guards. A recruiting angle to watch is definitely how MSU and UM play Morris along with Walton. Who does each coach respectively prefer? If Walton chooses UM, Morris could be your next MSU point guard.

Addendum 5/9: "Man Man" has had an excellent early summer. His level of attention has gone up and he's courting an offer from Indiana. Morris has many solid offers but IU would definitely be on the high end of his potential. It may be too late for MSU to get involved and there's little sign they will but Morris is starting to live up to the hype of that level recruit.



Charles "Cha Cha" Tucker
Ht: 5’11
Wt: 160
School: Lansing Eastern (Lansing, MI)
ESPN: ** No. 47 Point Guard
Rivals: ****
Scout: ***
"Cha Cha" has heavy MSU connections. Most people recall that his father, Dr. Charles Tucker, was an advisor to Magic Johnson during his Lansing days and the Tuckers have stayed close to the MSU program since. That said, young Tucker will have to earn an offer from Michigan State on his own basketball merits. His name has been out there for longer than some, leading to good exposure and participation in USA Basketball Under-16 development team. There is no doubt that he is a high-IQ point guard with extensive ability to be a distributor and floor general. It’s proving that he has other elite basketball skills that will keep him up there with the big in-state names.

Addendum 5/9: It just doesn't appear to be in the cards for Cha Cha and MSU based on Tucker's expected level of development. He'll be respectable floor general for someone but probably not MSU.



Derrick Walton (U-M Verbal)
Ht: 6’0
Wt: 170
School: Chandler Park Academy (Detroit, MI)
ESPN: *** No. 24 Point Guard
Rivals: **** No. 88 Overall
Scout: **** No. 57 Overall, No. 13 Point Guard

Walton is considered one of the top point guards in the state of Michigan for his class, if not the undisputed 1A man. Walton has made his name for distribution ability and exceptional court vision grabbing the attention of everyone from Evan Daniels, Steve Bell, Sam Webb, and beyond. Averaging over 20 points as a freshman and sophomore, he can score efficiently but Walton is shaping up to fit more as a traditional point guard than a lead guard meant to be the offense himself. In taking with UM Hoops recently, he mentioned his schools of interest as Michigan, Michigan State, Connecticut, Xavier, Northwestern, Western Michigan, Central Michigan and Stanford. With Walton's national profile, this list will almost definitely grow as more offers are rolled out.



Denzel Watts
Ht: 5’11"
Wt: 180
School: Carman-Ainsworth (Flint, MI)
ESPN: Unranked
Rivals: Unranked
Scout: Unranked

As the lack of national rankings suggest, Watts is often considered on the second tier of Michigan point guards behind Walton and Morris. However, his fans would tell you that their respective abiliities are all close enough for Watts to move into that space with a solid AAU season and junior year. He’s got one fan in The Only Colors’ Patrick Hayes who included him in a feature on Flint PGs earlier this year. As Patrick notes, Watts is the "big guard" of the group with a solid, muscular frame more reminiscent of someone like Mateen Cleaves than Drew Neitzel. His recruitment is still developing with the in-state schools in the mix waiting for their classes to shake out. He recently stated a preference to bring his type of physical game to the Big Ten or Big East.

Here's a link to casual interview conducted recently by Eric Woodyard of the Flint Journal where he talks to Denzel about where he sees himself in the legacy of great Flint guards.




V.J. Beachem (Notre Dame Verbal)
Ht: 6’6"
Wt: 180
School: New Haven (Ft. Wayne, IN)
ESPN: **** No. 88 Overall, No. 24 Small Forward
Rivals: **** No. 42 Overall
Scout: **** No. 78 Overall, No. 15 Small Forward

V.J. visited the weekend of the June 3rd on his second unofficial trip to Michigan State so it’s clear he’s interested in the university. Whether Michigan State likes him enough to offer a scholarship is yet to be revealed. Beachem is a highly effective offensive player with a range of skills to score. Standing close to 6’7", he’ll need to add mass to compete at the Big Ten level. According to ESPN, his defensive work requires a large amount of improvement and that could be one barrier to an MSU offer. His only current offer is from Purdue but he reports a long list of interest from Butler, Indiana, Purdue, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Cincinnati, Xavier, Michigan, Michigan State, Georgetown, Tennessee and Florida



Sterling Brown (added 5/10/12)
Ht: 6’4"
Wt: 180
School: Proviso East High School (Chicago, IL)
ESPN: *** No. 45 Shooting Guard
Rivals: *** unranked
Scout: *** No. 29 Small Forward

Sterling is the brother of former Michigan State star Shannon Brown and a major late riser in 2013 recruiting. He has played with the best in the Chicago area both as an opponent and AAU teammate giving him access to an audience with many college coaches. The number of offers to Brown and the caliber of interested programs have increased as he approaches his senior year. Big Ten invitations from Nebraska, Northwestern, and Illinois (under Bruce Weber) have already come in and Minnesota is the latest team to offer. Even though Brown has more yet to prove to gain an offer from Michigan State, I think there’s a chance he could navigate himself into the right place at the right time. Two of Coach Izzo’s guard recruits for ‘13/’14, James Young and Drake Harris, both look like 50/50 prospects. If the MSU doesn’t like the odds with those players at the signing period approaches, Brown could be the recipient of a late offer from this "dream school" of Michigan State.

You can read more in my introduction story for May 10th.



Tony Farmer
Ht: 6’7"
Wt: 210
School: Garfield Heights (Garfield Heights, OH)
ESPN: **** No. 74 Overall, No. 18 Small Forward
Rivals: **** No. 25 Overall
Scout: **** No. 98 Overall, No. 16 Small Forward

Tony is a difficult player to position right now and he is best described as a combo forward. Unlike some of the players MSU is looking at who stand around 6’6" but are well shy of 200lbs, Farmer is a player with a strong frame and build. Most of his game is based near the paint and he’s not known as a big-time perimeter scorer. Probably shy of 6’7", Farmer doesn’t have ideal size for a true post player. Though it was passed around on twitter that Tony possesses an MSU offer, he is not listed as holding one by most recruiting services. Recently, Eric Stovall of ESPN offered this take, "He is a versatile offensive player who has really improved in the past year. He still does not give a consistent effort, but when he is engaged he can impact the game with scoring and rebounding. Farmer is a streaky shooter with range to 20 feet and can put the ball on the floor, especially going right. He is a solid rebounder when crashing in from the wing and is especially good on the offensive glass. He still struggles some in space defensively, but that may be the final piece to the puzzle."

Addendum 5/9: Farmer recently had an ugly run-in with the law and that probably put an end to his alim chances with MSU.


via greatlakeshoops

Steve Haney, Jr.
Ht: 6’5"
Wt: 190
School: Lansing Eastern (Lansing, MI)
ESPN: *** No. 28 Small Forward
Rivals: **** No. 68 Overall
Scout: Unranked

Haney is another local to MSU player, playing alongside Charles Tucker at Lansing Eastern. Entering high school at nearly 6’4", Haney has been on the radar as a prospect for many years. A very good shooter, Haney should have more opportunities to score as a junior for a high-profile team that has been making deep tournament runs. Like an MSU recruit such as Brandan Kearney, Haney Jr. needs to spend time demonstrating that he is both physical and driven enough to play for a school like Michigan State. He has interest from Notre Dame, Tennessee, Boston College, Michigan, and Michigan State.

Addendum 5/9: Haney now plays in Florida after a move by his family and that appears to have put an end to the short relationship between he and Michigan State.


via 4.bp.blogspot

Zak Irvin (U-M Verbal)
Ht: 6’5"
Wt: 180
School: Hamilton Southeastern (Fishers, IN)
ESPN: **** No. 70 Overall, No. 16 Shooting Guard
Rivals: **** No. 97 Overall
Scout: *** No. 23 Shooting Guard

Zak Irvin plays high school basketball alongside another MSU recruit you may have heard of, Gary Harris. This means MSU has seen Irvin in action in a lot and there is reported mutual interest that may be heating up instead of cooling off. Irvin has impressive regional offers from Purdue, Xavier, Illinois, and Indiana, as well as looks from places like Baylor and Miami (Fl.).



E.C. Matthews
Ht: 6’4"
Wt: 180
School: Romulus High (Romulus, MI)
ESPN: **** No. 63, No. 12 Shooting Guard
Rivals: **** No. 83 Overall
Scout: **** No. 52 Overall, No. 12 Point Guard

Evan Daniels of Scout hit me with a tweet and previewed how highly he thinks of Matthews as a point guard. That remains to be seen and Matthews-as-PG doesn’t appear to be the unanimous scouting report. Matthews has been playing off the bench for an upperclassmen-heavy Romulus squad but his elevation to junior status plus the departure of Ray Lee for prep school should allow him to feature his skills during the upcoming season. Already one of the state's top junior guards by reputation, he's a player whose stock improve could move as more schools and scouts watch him play.

Live4BallDotCom has recent Spiece footage showing some of Matthews highlights.

Addendum 5/9: In a similar situation to Monte Morris, Matthews has impressed people with his spring 2012 performances and is now playing some of his best ball. Also like Morris, MSU is not likely to get involved at this late stage.



Jabari Parker
Ht: 6’7"
Wt: 215
School: Simeon Career Academy (Chicago, IL)
ESPN: ***** No. 1 Overall, No. 1 Small Forward
Rivals: ***** No. 4 Overall
Scout: ***** No. 1 Overall, No. 1 Small Forward

Parker hardly needs any introduction or paragraph. He is a consensus top five player and ranked by many as the best player in the 2013 class. This recruitment should be an extended one and the Parkers recently re-stated their commitment to exploring every avenue of the recruiting process, including a senior year decision timeline following five official and in-home visits. Right now, MSU is in the thick it off it, joining Kansas, Duke, Washington, and Illinois as Parker’s top five. One storyline to watch is what role Jabari takes on at the next level. MSU’s need for a post player in 2013 is apparent. Could Parker fill that need as a quick, athletic versatile power forward or he is better positioned as big, attacking wing player? I'm sure MSU will take him either way.

Addendum 5/9: Parker has become all everything and I believe the consensus that Duke and Michigan State are his two leaders. Parker will probably wait until after some fall official visits before making a final call.



James Young
Ht: 6’5"
Wt: 210
School: Troy High School (Troy, MI)
ESPN: ***** No. 10 Overall , No. 3 Small Forward
Rivals: **** No. 34 Overall
Scout: ***** No. 16 Overall, No. 4 Small Forward

Starting last winter, James Young has been a hot name in the 2013 Michigan class. He first came to my attention when Steve Bell ranked him as the No. 1 wing ahead of familiar names like Steve Haney Jr. and E.C. Matthews. I confess to doing a "who?" at the time in reaction to a name I hadn't yet heard. Since then, prep fans and recruitniks locally and nationally have learned the name of the big wing forward from Troy. Some of the top 50 national rankings listed above can be viewed as the evidence of his profile. Young, unlike some of the other players with less than ideal size, is a big guard with speculation that he’ll continue to gain height during his high school career. The word in his ESPN write-up that keeps popping up is "physical." Also an exceptional athlete, continued skill development and maturity should make Young a force.

Check out this nice article/photoshoot/video feature from miprepzone for more information on Young, including his hope to reach 6'9."

Addendum 5/9: If you follow the site or recruiting at all, you know about James Young's explosion this spring. I think it's too early to handicap the race or assume he's a lock as a future Kentucky Wildcat. Young has family connections to stay in-state and MSU could pull off an upset and keep him home.



Byron Zeigler
Ht: 6’6"
Wt: 185
School: Community High School (Detroit, MI)
ESPN: *** No. 38 Small Forward
Rivals: **** No. 60 Overall
Scout **** No. 37 Overall, No. 9 Small Forward

Zeigler is another in the long list of big wings MSU has been targeting recently. He’s a prime example of the lack of consensus in recruit rankings at this stage. From the buzz I’d heard, he wasn’t someone I expected to be ranked by Rivals as top 75 prospect. On that beat, I am hesitant when I see Zeigler’s offer sheet including the name Michigan State amongst Indiana, Iowa State, and CMU. Could Bryon really call up Tom Izzo tomorrow and become a Spartan by accepting a full scholarship offer? Hard to say. Still, there’s a lot to recommend him and he was recently cited as a standout at the Spiece Run-and-Slam by both national and local analysts.

Addendum 5/9
: MSU's 24/7 site recently ran a story where Zeigler seemed unsure if MSU was still recruiting him based on their silence. That probably is a major hint about his prospects with MSU.




Mark Donnal (U-M Verbal)
Ht: 6’8"
Wt: 225
School: Anthony Wayne (Whitehouse, OH)
ESPN: **** No. 84 Overall, No. 20 Power Forward
Rivals: Unranked
Scout: *** No. 30 Power Forward

Mark is a greatly improved player who is still a work in progress and he displays a game similar to players MSU has been bringing in with recent classes (Gauna, Kaminski, Costello). Donnal currently does not have big-time back to the basket game but he’s a solid mid-range shooter and is effective when facing up. Already possessing good size, he’s one to watch and could be an option if Coach Izzo decides to get a post player before hearing from Jabari Parker.



Leo Edwards
Ht: 6’8"
Wt: ???
School: Romulus (Romulus, MI)
ESPN: Unranked
Rivals: Unranked
Scout: Unranked

Big men naturally take more time to develop, hence the comparatively fewer number of players on our list who you might consider a true post. The 2013 Michigan class (currently) lacks a player with the renown of recent names like DeShonte Riley, Amir Williams, and Matt Costello. One player with the potential to take a shot at that spot is the 6’8" Edwards who will be joining Romulus next season. Nine months ago over at BankHoops, Steve Bell called him the #1 2013 player in the state. I don’t know if he’d hold to that today but perhaps he might if you asked him. Like most young bigs, Edwards is the sort of player who still has a lot to prove and I wouldn’t put him in the frontlines to receive an offer from MSU soon. Down the road? Perhaps.

Addendum 5/9: Edwards has great potential but he hasn't yet demonstrated close to an MSU-level game.



Alex Foster
Ht: 6’8
Wt: 200
School: De La Salle Institute (Chicago, IL)
ESPN: *** No. 24 Power Forward
Rivals: ***
Scout: ***

It’s not clear how aggressively MSU is looking at Alex Foster but his name comes up as an MSU player of interest. With a solid offer sheet of Illinois, DuPaul, Northwestern, and Purdue, he makes sense as a player to watch. Foster also plays for the Chicago area power De La Salle. Not only is Izzo and staff spending more time recruiting that region, but Izzo has already seen Foster play while recruiting Mike Shaw for 2013. He’s some sophomore year video of Alex on the court.



Thomas Hamilton, Jr.
Ht: 6’9"
Wt: 235
School: Whitney Young (Chicago, IL)
ESPN: **** No. 23 Overall, No. 2 Center
Rivals: **** No. 18 overall
Scout: **** No. 26 Overall, No. 3 Center

If Thomas Hamilton were to become a Spartan, there’d be no ambiguity about whether he would fit the role of a post player. Hamilton is a big load of a true center. Hamilton is an incredibly intriguing player with a great set of versatile skills to match his impressive stature. You may recall his father Thomas Hamilton who was a giant 7’2", 330lb NBA center so there’s no telling how young "Tommy" will continue to grow. Though it’s always hard to confirm these things so early, he is rumored to be one of the 2013 Michigan State recruits already holding an offer. On this one in particular, I’m not skeptical. You can see a mixtape of his sophomore season here.

Addendum 5/9: Hamilton's recent high school career has been a total up-and-down in which he's battled injuries, conditioning, and motor questions. Things between MSU and Hamilton heated up briefly (he was a 2011 Midnight Madness visitor) but his difficulty in maintaining an elite level game has lowered his stock.



Maverick Morgan
Ht: 6’10
Wt: 240 lbs
School: Springboro HS (Springboro, OH)
Scout: *** Unranked
Rivals: Unranked
ESPN: Unranked

Maverick Morgan came to my attention from this late June article in the Dayton newspaper where his coach Troy Holtrey listed Michigan State as a team recruiting him. Like lots of young, developing big men, his recruitment is just getting started and it makes sense that while numerous programs such as Butler, West Virginia, Purdue, and others are evaluating Morgan, only Wright State has offered. He’s exactly the type of player who could plateau and never generate any more MSU-level interest or he may continue to rise and make himself a regional, if not national, name. If you’d like to see Maverick move on the court, here’s a video from last spring. He’s the big guy in black, #33, and gets a dunk around 0:50.



Jonathan Williams (added 6/11/11)
Ht: 6’8"
Wt: 205
School: Southwind High School (Memphis, TN)
ESPN: ***** No. 17 Overall, No. 5 Power Forward
Rivals: ***** No. 10 Overall,
Scout: ***** No. 14 Overall, No. 5 Power Forward

Thanks to MSUinMD for bringing this name to my attention! According to Rivals, Williams lists MSU as a program heavily recruiting him along with list of schools including Kentucky, Texas, North Carolina, Memphis and Florida. Williams started turning heads when he showed up as a high school student already standing close to 6’8". He suffered injuries which slowed his development and recognition but Jonathan has come back strong as his consensus five-star rating suggests. This is another interesting recruitment with Izzo again demonstrating that he’s willing to mix it up with heavy hitters, this time for a player farther out of the typical MSU recruitng radius. Here’s a video from last winter of a player PM Hoops compares to Lamar Odom.



Mark Williams
Ht: 6’7"
Wt: 230
School: Benedictine (Cleveland, OH)
ESPN: *** No. 30 Power Forward
Rivals: **** No. 67 Overall
Scout: **

It was MSU’s 24/7 site that broke the news of the mutual interest between Mark Williams and Michigan State. Mark told Dan Kilbridge that MSU coaches have been in to watch him multiple times and he’s receiving interest from the entire Big Ten. However, Williams has already announced that he’ll be making a decision on August 12th as gift to his mother. At the time, Indiana was reported as his only offer. My guess is that he will not be a Spartan by mid-August. Just in a case, here’s a CityLeagueHoops video from this spring.




Dominic Woodson
Ht: 6’8"
Wt: 265
School: Stony Point (Rolling Rock, TX)
ESPN: Unranked
Rivals: Unranked
Scout: **** No. 87 Overall, No. 10 Center

Woodson was one of the major winners coming out of July 2011 and AAU. He was the Player of the Week for NBE Basketball and received attention on twitter as one of the players who did the most to help his rankings and recruiting profile. He may be hard to get out of Texas with offers from UTEP, Tulsa, Texas Tech, and serious interest from UT. Schools like Vanderbilt, UConn, and Maryland have offered in an attempt to broaden Woodson’s options. Though still considered "raw" by Scouts, Dominic has shown the early ability to do everything you’d want out of a post – rebound, move the ball, run the floor, block shots, and score. Though this is far outside of MSU’s normal recruiting, solid sources say that Dane Fife is leading the charge for Woodson’s services and is serious about this player. Two things to watch – how seriously and by what means does MSU continue to recruit a Texan and precisely how high do scout’s evaluations of Woodson place him in the updated rankings? Don't let the "Unranked's" fool you.

Addendum 5/9: After some serious involvement including a trip to Woodson's East Coast prep school by Tom Izzo himself, it looks like MSU has backed far off this recruit.