Jones, Okafor, Alexander, Lyle, Blackmon! Ulis, Booker, Alexander, Looney, Travis! We’ve been down this road recently, and we’re back. Michigan State is once again eyeing a full class of elite, nationally-acclaimed players to occupy spots in 2016. Nick Ward, Josh Langford, Miles Brides, Cassius Winston, and Josh Jackson are being recruited as a Fa-…Potent Pente? Sensational Cinco? Is "Wonderful Wu" too Ghostface Killah? There’s reason to believe that Coach Izzo might land at least four of his top targets for the 2016 class. A fifth would be major gravy.
First, let’s shine some light on the players in the fold. Summer has brought great reviews for Nick Ward of Gahanna, Ohio. Our first commit, he was already gaining steam when he chose the Spartans. Still, there was this perception that he was a very "blue collar" pick up, an undersized post with center game who would top out at "solid four-year contributor." However, he had a great July and a barrage of tweets from people like Jerry Meyer, Brian Snow, and Sean Scherer all praised the growth in his game. As college molds him into the best shape of his life, Ward should be able to use his post moves, footwork, and strength to put up numbers in the Big Ten. FWIW, his ranking has risen by about 20 spots at both Rivals and 24/7.
Josh Langford pulled the trigger for MSU last month and said all the right things about playing for Tom Izzo. He wants a "family" not a "business" style program where he’ll be pushed to go as far as he can as a player and person. Reggie Rankin even compared him to Draymond Green, calling him a "super versatile glue guy." Comparing the 6’4" shooting guard to an MSU star forward and NBA center(?!) might seem odd but then you get tweets like this from Evan Daniels:
Josh Langford is known his scoring, but he's a very underrated passer. Great vision. Unselfish. Terrific early pledge for Michigan State.— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) July 26, 2015
That’s the summer narrative on Josh Langford: scorer, sure, but he’s a physical, versatile playmaker who can set up his teammates and see the floor as well. So far, he’s MSU’s highest rated recruit since Gary Harris in 2012.
SO FAR!!! We’re already the #4 ranked class at 24/7 with more work to be done. You know the names, so I’ll skip the lengthy introductions. Can MSU land Miles Bridges, Cassius Winston, and Josh Jackson to fill the 2016 - 2017 roster with ridiculous talent?
Here’s some things we know about Miles Bridges:
- Miles Bridges is really good. As in, really, really, "people keep talking about how he’s underrated and he’s already a 5-star" good.
- Miles is sincerely interested in being closer to home. He wanted to play his senior season back in Flint but his mom advised against it, and he listened.
- Cynthia Bridges believes the coaches at MSU are "wonderful" based on her relationship with them.
- Miles has said that Cassius Winston is likely to join him if he picks Michigan State or UM.
- Few people honestly believe Miles Bridges is likely to pick Michigan.
That should wrap it up, right? Of course, we know that Kentucky is the other big suitor for Miles Bridges. However, based on where things stand today, I would mark my "Crystal Ball" pick for Miles Bridges to MSU.
If it weren’t for the pull of playing with his friend and AAU teammate, I might be more nervous about the fourth piece of the recruiting puzzle, Cassius Winston. Like Bridges, many believe this is a two-school race despite the periphery, and that Winston will play in his home state. Cassius has kept his preference between UM and MSU close to the vest with rumors going back and forth. Teaming with Bridges on a Juggernaut Michigan State roster might be a tie-breaker.
The last piece is the man of college mystery Josh Jackson, Rivals and 24/7's #1 player in the class of 2016. Let’s go list-style again.
- Josh Jackson, in the face of skepticism, says he intends to play college basketball in the United States.
- He has a list of five main teams: Kansas, Louisville, Arizona, Auburn, and MSU.
- He claims MSU is hard after him.
- That’s really about it.
Is Josh Jackson really playing college ball? Is his recruitment and prep school something that fits well with MSU? What does his regionally-diverse Top 5 indicate? I have no answers for these questions. The cool thing is that MSU doesn’t need Jackson, especially if they land the other four players. In fact, there isn’t a fifth scholarship currently available. Spartan fans are in a privileged position to treat the No. 1 player in his class like a luxury.
Luxury or not, it’s kind of irresistible to imagine Tom Izzo sitting Eron Harris, Lourawls Nairn, and others for a rest and bringing out:
PG: Cassius Winston
SG: Josh Langford
SF: Josh Jackson
PF: Miles Bridges
C: Nick Ward
That Tremendous Tano would not only be a nightmare for opponents but would be incredibly fun to watch as fans. Imagine Winston as the dual distributor and scoring threat teaming with a secondary wing playmaker in Langford. You have power paired with fluidity in Bridges and Jackson, as Jackson attacks the basket and slashes with Bridges there to grab boards, work inside-out, and handle to find open teammates. If the team needs something easy, they force it into the post to get Ward a bunny. I'm in!
Jackson is by far the least likely to happen, but Michigan State is in better standing to finalize a dynamite class than it was two years ago. Even that obstacle laden path worked out shockingly well. Add a reload of four or five Top 50 players and watch what happens next.
Here is a full game video of Jackson and Bridges in action together with 1 Nation at the Fab 48 (that word again!). They're matched up against a Belmont Shore team including MSU target P.J. Washington.