Tom Izzo got two guys who fit his system and want to be Spartans in the class of 2014. Javon Bess of Gahanna, Ohio and Lourawls "Tum Tum" Nairn, Jr. of Bel Aire, Kansas sent in their National Letters of Intent Wednesday and officially joined the Spartan basketball family. Wednesday was the first official day of the week-long early signing period for the class of 2014. One scholarship, and possibly 1-2 more, depending on draft decisions of current players, remains open for MSU in this class, but no further commitments are expected this week.
This ends one of the more dramatic recruiting cycles in recent years for Izzo and MSU. In the end, Izzo got two players he likes and who want to be in East Lansing as much he wants them there. With the LOIs on file Izzo could finally talk about the players he brought in by name.
Lourawls Nairn, Jr.“I wanted to have an open mind but as soon as I stepped foot on campus at Michigan State, I knew it was the right place for me. I knew that’s where I wanted to go.”
Tum Tum Nairn becomes the heir apparent to the prestigious point guard position at Michigan State, following in the footsteps of Mateen Cleaves, Kalin Lucas, and Keith Appling. The details of Nairn's size and rankings can be found in his welcome aboard post. The things that stand out about him, however, are his quickness, his toughness and his leadership. It's really hard to imagine a player who would be a better fit for Tom Izzo's system and personality. After 7 years of low-key, lead-by-example leadership from the point guard position in Lucas and Appling, Izzo is clearly relishing a return to the kind of vocal leadership he got from Cleaves and Travis Walton. You can get a sense of Nairn's self-confidence from one of his commitment day interviews.
Nairn had narrowed his list of schools to Oklahoma, Minnesota and Indiana before Michigan State made a late charge. The Spartans had actually been interested in him some time earlier, but backed off when they considered him a lock for Kansas. But when point guard prospects Tyler Ulis, Darrell Davis and Quentin Snider all committed elsewhere, Izzo rushed to get back in the race for Nairn's services. He made a visit to East Lansing in mid-September and committed two weeks later.
Nairn looks like a combination of the quickness of Kalin Lucas and the strength and tenacity of Travis Walton. He's regarded as the fastest point guard in the class of 2014 and, naturally, is excellent in transition. He's also very effective coming off ball screens, which has become a staple of MSU's offense in recent years. As Izzo himself notes, Nairn's shot is still a work in progress, but here are some highlights, so judge for yourself.
Javon Bess"I just loved the team. I like the players, the coaches, the campus. I just liked everything about the school."
The MSU courtship of Bess was a whirlwind affair. You can get a sense of it from the article that first mentioned Bess on TOC, which was started before, but posted after, he received an offer from Tom Izzo. Within the span of a few weeks, MSU staff visited Bess at open gym, he took an unofficial visit, followed by an official visit and a commitment a few days later. Somehow, in the midst of this, he found a way to visit Kansas State and Tom Izzo's good friend Bruce Weber, who were the primary rivals to secure Bess. Bess also had an offer from Dayton, among several others, but the visits to MSU won him over.
You can see details about Bess in the post linked above. He is a fit for Michigan State in a different way than Nairn. His calling card is versatility. At 6'5" his size and skill allow him to play the 1 through 3 positions, which is critical for Izzo's defensive system with its constant switching on the perimeter. And although his shot is not regarded as one of his main assets, it's clear that he's been working on it, as the following recent highlights show.
In the end, despite his pursuit of several top-ranked players with national reputations, Izzo's 2014 class has a familiar makeup. He has added the kind of players we're used to seeing him stay in-state for. Nairn and Bess are both late risers who are known for their work ethic and coachability, and have the potential to really blossom as players in Izzo's system. Come 2014, we'll be able to see for ourselves.