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Michigan State basketball: Get to know the roster

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NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Michigan State vs Miami Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State Spartans basketball returns Friday night for the 2017-2018 regular season opener against North Florida at 8 p.m.! With the Spartans’ strong football season still going, could it get any better than both programs in action on the same weekend?

Expectations are high for Michigan State on the hardwood this season, and for good reason as it returns players such as Miles Bridges, Nick Ward and Cassius Winston, just to name a few. In addition, true freshmen and five-star forward Jaren Jackson Jr. figures to immediately fit into the starting lineup and do some serious damage.

With the season just about ready to commence, let’s introduce each player on the roster and try to get to know them slightly better.

#0 Kyle Ahrens
Position: Guard/Forward
Class: Junior
Height: 6-foot-6
Hometown: Versailles, Ohio
2016-2017 stats: 8.2 minutes per game, 2.6 PPG, 1.1 RPG, 0.2 APG

Notes: Ahrens figured to have an expanded role this season as a backup shooting guard/small forward, but a foot injury will keep him out indefinitely.


#1 Joshua Langford
Position: Shooting Guard
Class: Sophomore
Height: 6-foot-5
Hometown: Huntsville, Alabama
2016-2017 stats: 21 minutes per game, 6.9 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 1.1 APG

Notes: Langford started 27 games as a true freshmen last season and struggled at points, but finished strongly and shot 41.6 percent from the three-point line. He’ll look to take a step forward as the starting shooting guard on an extremely talented team in 2017-2018.


#2 Jaren Jackson Jr.
Position: Forward (likely to start at the 4)
Class: Freshmen
Height: 6-foot-11
Hometown: Carmel, Indiana
2016-2017 stats: N/A

Notes: Jackson, a McDonald’s and Jordan Brand All-American, figures to immediately slot in as the starting power forward. He is extremely versatile. Jackson has a crazy wingspan, and the ability to shoot threes, drive or post-up. Be very excited, Spartan faithful.


#5 Cassius Winston
Position: Point Guard
Class: Sophomore
Height: 6-foot
Hometown: Detroit, Michigan
2016-2017 stats: 20.7 minutes per game, 6.7 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 5.2 APG

Notes: Winston is a terrific passer, but can also shoot well. He’s going to need to see the court well at point guard and will be “quarterbacking” the offense. Winston needs to improve as a defender, but if he does, watch out NCAA.


#10 Jack Hoiberg
Position: Guard
Class: Freshmen
Height: 5-foot-10
Hometown: Burr Ridge, Illinois
2016-2017 stats: N/A

Notes: Hoiberg made the squad as a preferred walk-on. If his name sounds familiar, it’s because his dad is Chicago Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg. The younger Hoiberg averaged nearly 15 points per game during his senior year of high school. He’s a likely redshirt candidate.


#11 Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn Jr.
Position: Point Guard
Class: Senior
Height: 5-foot-10
Hometown: Nassau, Bahamas
2016-2017 stats: 22.8 minutes per game, 3.5 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 3.5 APG

Notes: Tum Tum enters his senior year with the Spartans and is a leader both on and off the court. He started 30 games last season, but will (likely) primarily come off of the bench this season. Depth in the backcourt is thin with the Ahrens injury, so Nairn, who is a strong defender, will be on the court plenty.


#13 Ben Carter
Position: Power Forward
Class: Graduate Senior
Height: 6-foot-9
Hometown: Las Vegas, Nev.
2016-2017 stats: N/A

Notes: Carter was a graduate transfer from UNLV last season, but a knee injury ended his 2016-2017 season on the first day of practice. He was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA and will look to carve out a role as a rotational stretch forward. Carter actually started his career at Oregon before transferring to UNLV.


#14 Brock Washington:
Position: Guard
Class: Freshmen
Height: 6-foot-3
Hometown: Southfield, Michigan
2016-2017 stats: N/A

Notes: Washington is another true freshmen preferred walk-on who will presumably redshirt this season — unless the lack of depth at the guard position forces Washington into the rotation. He was a 2017 Associated Press Class D All-State First Team selection and Detroit News Class D First-Team All-State selection.


#20 Matt McQuaid
Position: Shooting Guard
Class: Junior
Height: 6-foot-4
Hometown: Duncanville, Texas
2016-2017 stats: 21 minutes per game, 5.6 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 1.2 APG

Notes: McQuaid figures to play a lot of minutes as the backup shooting guard. He is one of the best pure shooters on the team, however, he has had hot and cold streaks with his shot. He is also a good defender with a high basketball IQ.


#22 Miles Bridges
Position: Small Forward
Class: Sophomore
Height: 6-foot-7
Hometown: Flint, Michigan
2016-2017 stats: 32 minutes per game, 16.9 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 2.1 APG

Notes: All eyes are on Miles Bridges. He shocked a lot of people by returning this year and is regarded as one of the best players in the country -- and he has a lot of preseason accolades to back that up. But now that the season is starting it’s time to prove it on the court. I don’t know about you, but I am extremely excited to watch him ball.


#23 Xavier Tillman
Position: Power Forward/Center
Class: Freshmen
Height: 6-foot-8
Hometown: Grand Rapids, Michigan
2016-2017 stats: N/A

Notes: Tillman was a four-star recruit and the No. 1 player in the state of Michigan. He is a monster on the glass and has good post moves. He’s also a highly-skilled passer out of the post. Tillman will see some minutes this season, but I am not sure how many. He was a member of 2017 Detroit News and Detroit Free Press Dream Team.


#25 Kenny Goins
Position: Forward
Class: Redshirt Junior
Height: 6-foot-7
Hometown: Troy, Michigan
2016-2017 stats: 18.3 minutes per game, 3.4 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 0.6 APG

Notes: Goins started 14 games for the Spartans last year and appeared in all 35 contests. He had to try to be a strong post presence at center due to an abundance of injuries for MSU’s big men. This year he’ll be able to come off of the bench and play his more natural position at power forward and possibly even at the three-spot as well.


#34 Gavin Schilling
Position: Power Forward/Center
Class: Red Shirt Senior
Height: 6-foot-9
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
2016-2017 stats: N/A

Notes: A knee injury kept Schilling out all of last season. The Spartans will be happy to have him back this season, as he is a strong post presence on offense, and a player who can move his feet well on defense (when fully healthy). He’s an athletic big man that the team surely missed last year.


#40 Braden Burke
Position: Power Forward/Center
Class: Sophomore
Height: 6-foot-11
Hometown: Stevensville, Michigan
2016-2017 stats (with Robert Morris): 15.2 minutes per game, 4.3 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 0.1 APG

Notes: Burke will have to sit out this season due to NCAA transferring rules. He appeared in 32 games with seven starts for Robert Morris last season. Burke is a Michigan native.


#41 Conner George
Position: Guard
Class: Sophomore
Height: 6-foot-3
Hometown: Okemos, Michigan
2016-2017 stats: 1.2 minutes per game, 0.6 PPG

Notes: George was a walk-on last season and saw action in 10 games. He’s now playing on scholarship and is a good long-range shooter. He’ll be a really deep option on the bench, but again, guard depth is limited with Ahrens out.


#44 Nick Ward
Position: Power Forward/Center
Class: Sophomore
Height: 6-foot-8
Hometown: Gahanna, Ohio
2016-2017 stats: 19.8 minutes per game, 13.9 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 0.4 APG

Notes: Ward was an exciting player as a true freshmen. He received All-Big Ten Honorable Mention honors and was only behind Bridges in points and rebounds on the team. He is always a scoring threat inside and he’ll look to improve other areas of his game this season.


Projected starting lineup: Winston (point guard), Langford (shooting guard), Bridges (small forward), Jackson Jr. (power forward), Ward (center)

Projected Rotation:
Point Guard 2-Nairn
Shooting Guard 2-McQuaid
Center/Power Forward 2-Schilling
Forward 2/3-Goins
Forward 3/4-Carter

Reserves:
Power Forward/Center-Tillman
Guard-George
Guard-Washington
Guard-Hoiberg

Transfer/Sitting out
Center-Burke


Thoughts? Who is ready for Michigan State basketball? Let’s talk in the comments section.