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MSU basketball: A thank you to seniors Nairn, Schilling and Carter

Looking back on three great seniors before Senior Night vs. Illinois

NCAA Basketball: Michigan State at Oakland Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn. Gavin Schilling. Ben Carter.

Those three Spartans will be playing their final game at Breslin Center on Tuesday night as MSU looks to wrap up a Big Ten championship season on senior night.

On one of the most emotional days of the year, senior night is a time of reflection and celebration. Graduating in this years class is a lot of passion, mental strength and physical toughness.

It’s never easy seeing Spartans kiss the logo at half court, but something always makes it better — saying “thank you” for all they’ve done in the green and white.

NCAA Basketball: Maryland at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Tum Tum Nairn

Thank you Tum Tum for being the engine of this team. Don’t believe that statement? Just hear it from Cassius Winston:

Tum Tum has been the soul of this for quite some time. Four years, to be exact. Even as he stepped on campus as a freshman, he pushed his teammates every day during the offseason that led to a Final Four.

During the postseason, he made his presence felt by starting in every tournament game en route to Indy. You can only imagine his impact in the locker room during that run too.

You’ve seen him make impacts in his senior year by taking a leadership role during huddles throughout the season. All of his teammates have seen him carry that off the game day court as well, pushing his teammates through practice and hosting key recruits through his time at MSU.

He doesn’t have the best jumper, and even he knows that. That’s also what makes him a smart player — he knows what he can do and knows what he shouldn’t. What he did do was make the last four MSU teams strive for greatness. What didn’t he do? Leave us all uninspired by his journey.

Gavin Schilling

A senior that handled two injury bouts the way he handles games — he grinded through it.

As a fifth year senior, it’s tough to not look back on Schilling’s reliability. Whether that’s his strong presence off the bench this season or the 33 games he started as a sophomore during MSU’s 2015 Final Four season, Schilling was getting work done in the paint.

NCAA Basketball: Purdue at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

You don’t even have to think too hard about his big impacts this year, playing his heart out on defense against Purdue’s mountainous Isaac Haas with no double team help. All that did was give MSU its biggest win of the season and put them into Big Ten title contention.

You put Schilling in, you’re not giving the other team a break in the paint.

Once the postseason gets rolling, there’s no questions Schilling can — and will — have an impact. Thank you for all you’ve done Gavin.

Ben Carter

He could have quit. He could have decided staying at MSU — a place 2,000 miles from home — wasn’t worth it after he was dealt his second major leg injury in his first semester in East Lansing.

However, he didn’t. He rehabbed his leg injury, teamed up with Schilling to push through their injuries and stayed the course through uncertainty of being granted a sixth year of eligibility.

NCAA Basketball: DePaul at Michigan State Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Carter isn’t getting huge minutes this year, but when he has come in he’s made a difference. He plays the game with a calmness to him, always making smart passes and making the best moves off ball. He doesn’t keep that high basketball IQ to himself, also dishing it to his teammates during games and using it to become a replica opposing player during practice.

He fought through dealing with harrowing news back home in Las Vegas where his mom was working in the same building a tragedy was unfolding. He’s battled through two major leg injuries. He’s faced limited minutes with a passion to make his teammates better.

He was only here for two years, but he’s made sure to leave his mark. Thank you Ben Carter, because you didn’t have to do any of this. We’re more than glad you did.