Alright, let’s get the big man moved aside first. It seems like numerous MSU classes have that one guy, the player we’re waiting on after other players are already wrapped up. It was Jamil Wilson once upon a time, then Adreian Payne, and Gary Harris in 2012. Spring should bring resolution to the pursuit of Caleb Swanigan. He has narrowed it down to seven finalists: MSU, Duke, Kentucky, Cal, Arizona, Chicago State (first offer), and Purdue. The window for spring signing begins April 15th and lasts until May 20th. In theory, Swanigan could sign a Letter of Intent any time in that window. Now, it would be unorthodox and unexpected, but no players are forced to sign a LOI. They can arrive on campus in the fall and accept a scholarship agreement instead. As I suggested, you’d be hard pressed to find an example of someone who did this (Jabari Parker talked about it), but Swanigan is young for his class, possibly behind in his recruitment, and represented by a guardian familiar with putting athletes in positions of leverage. If anyone was going to let May 20th pass without signing, it’s someone in the situation of Caleb Swanigan.
Where do things stand right now? Swanigan recently stated that he’ll set a decision date soon and will probably wait until the end of his high school career. His team is playing for the Indiana state championship on Saturday after 40pts from Swanigan pushed them through the semifinals. He may also be roster watching to make a final decision. MSU is more stable, but suitors like Kentucky have a lot of early entrant candidates to shake out and there’s no harm in Swanigan making doubly 100% sure (200%?) that Jahlil Okafor doesn’t feel the pull of college for one more year. Like I said on the blog earlier this week, I wouldn’t bet my house against MSU, but I’d put my hypothetical $50 on Duke.
Swanigan isn’t the only MSU recruit still competing in the prep postseason. Perhaps MSU’s most important target, Cassius Winston, is moving on after winning the semifinal against Clarkston on a last second layup (see it below). While most of the MSU staff and players went to watch Deyonta Davis battle Trevor Manuel (the less said about this, the better), Coach Izzo showed up to watch Winston validating just the sort of priority he is for Michigan State. Though there is a whole summer of AAU for other relationships and prospects to develop, most of the Spartan point guard eggs are in the Cassius Winston basket eight months before early signing.
In addition to recruiting one more big man for next season, MSU is looking to fill post spots in the 2016-2017 future as well, especially considering centers Matt Costello and Gavin "Not Mid-Career Redshirting" Schilling will be moving on in the next two years. A key figure is still Gahanna, Ohio’s Nick Ward. Though the word is that he packs a center’s game into a power forward’s size, Ward clearly has the attention of MSU. In a SpartanMagtoGo Youtube video, Rico Beard made a bold prediction that a victory over Minnesota last month might have produced a verbal commitment from the visiting Ward. The WOTS has long been that of all the 2016 recruits, fans should be most confident about this one. We’ll have to wait and see if he drops for MSU before Spring AAU.
MSU is looking at other forwards and centers for the 2016 class as well. They’re recruiting Isaac Humphries, a high 4-star out of La Porte, Indiana by way of Australia. Though you might not see MSU mentioned frequently if you surf Scout, ESPN, and other websites, word on the investment from MSU in Humphries came directly from the player himself. He recently told Zagsblog, "Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, Michigan State and UCLA ‘are recruiting me the hardest at the moment.’" The article also notes that he does not have a UK or Duke offer, suggesting by inference that MSU has extended an invitation.
Not giving away premium content, suffice it to say that MSU 24/7 SpartanTailgate can confirm that MSU is still all-in for 2016 Alabama wing Josh Langford. Is this simply due diligence for Izzo’s possible switch to coach Alabama basketball? Probably not; MSU must believe they can build a relationship to get Langford out of the south. As a junior, Langford was named the Gatorade Alabama POY last week.
Hey, who wants to watch Miles Bridges dunk everything?
Giving shape to this 2016 class, it’s relatively straightforward to see what’s going on. MSU has four available scholarships, three if they give one to Caleb Swanigan in 2015. Three spots, three positions. It’s all Cassius Winston at the point, one post player (Ward/Humphries/Joey Brunk), and one guard/wing (Langford/Miles Bridges/TBD). Considering MSU almost always has an extra spot open up, Coach Izzo could target a fourth "wildcard/best available" player as well.
We focused a lot of 2016 today, per usual. Expect more clear targets to come out of Spring AAU for the 2017 class beyond the established names like Brian "Tugs" Bowen, Xavier Tillman, and Matt Beachler.