What to make of Michigan State’s 2022 men’s basketball recruiting situation...
With Isaac Traudt committing to the University of Virginia on Saturday, Aug. 28, the staff will need to take some time to consider their next move in this recruiting cycle. The number of targets for this recruiting class has remained small over the entire cycle and that has been both positive — landing Tre Holloman in part because he was the only lead guard the staff recruited — and now a negative.
While it is never a a great feeling to miss on a guy who is a top target, per se, teams are usually able to work it out in other ways. However, in a case like this one, where the number of offers that have been extended proves so limited, the staff will now have to hope to land on a late-bloomer, do catch-up work to get into a guy’s recruitment that they were on the periphery of, or really dive into the transfer portal aggressively.
The remaining confirmed offers are still the same:
- Jaden Schutt (6-foot-5-inch shooting guard from Illinois), a plan-A recruit on the wing with the makings of an NBA-level game. His shooting off the catch and off the dribble is outstanding, his play-making and positional size are both very strong for his role, and he has a real edge to him.
- Ty Rodgers (6-foot-6-inch forward from Michigan) remains an enigma, as Michigan State’s recruitment of him has been seemingly inconsistent. He has offers from all over the country and still has a clearly-perfect fit in East Lansing. Rodgers and Malik Hall would form an incredible one-two punch at the forward position next season before Rodgers would assume a starting role for however many more years he stays at the college-level. I do think he has a real shot at being an NBA player because his defense, nose for the ball, finishing, and passing are at such a high level that if he becomes even an average shooter his archetype will gloss over any high-end-talent deficiencies. He is, as I mentioned before, the guy I would be most chagrined to miss out on in this class given his fit with the rest of the roster.
- Braden Huff (6-foot-9-inch big man from Illinois), a teammate of Schutt’s on the Illinois Wolves AAU team, is just a solid, ball-handling, passing, and shooting big. A true stretch-big at the college level, his ability to work on the perimeter in pick-and-roll, pick-and-pop, and dribble-hand-off actions makes him an ideal modern big who can space the floor and generate high quality shot attempts by manipulating the traditional anchor of opposing teams’ defenses.
While late-offers may be added to this list, the fact that MSU may not be in the lead for any of these players indicates that the staff may need to rely more on the transfer portal in this cycle than they have in any other year. While this would not be ideal from Tom Izzo’s perspective, the outcomes will likely be right in line with his expectations.
Roster outlook for the 2022-2023 season:
The team will, in all likelihood, be returning a ton of talent after this coming season. While I still believe that Max Christie will have a lot of hype as an NBA prospect after his freshman year, he remains steadfast in viewing himself as a two-year collegiate player. We will see if that changes over the course of this season, but for now, I will begin to shift my roster projections toward the idea of his returning as a sophomore. With that in mind, I project the depth-chart to look like this:
1 - AJ Hoggard (jr.), Tyson Walker (sr.)
2 - Jaden Akins (so.), Tre Holloman (fr.)
3 - Max Christie (so.), Pierre Brooks II (so.)
4 - Malik Hall (sr.)
5 - Mady Sissoko (jr.), Julius Marble (sr.)
The other interesting potential development would be either Gabe Brown or Marcus Bingham Jr. electing to return for a fifth season. Both would have an additional year of eligibility remaining (due to the COVID-19 waiver), and both might have legitimate reason to return. This coming season will be the first where both have something akin to starring roles, and while either or both may “blow up”’ and have huge seasons propelling them toward their professional careers, or might be “done” with college life, either or both of those young men may decide that a second season in a roughly similar role might benefit their professional prospects even more.
Assuming neither Brown nor Bingham return, this group is still darned good, and down-right scary, in fact. With Pierre Brooks potentially spending some time at the forward position due to his size and strength, with a full arsenal of players in the back-court and on the wing, and with three returning players in the front-court, this team will have a full nine-man rotation even if no more players are added. (Note: I have not included any of the walk-on players in the depth chart projection, who may also play their way into a scholarship position).
We can assume, despite this relatively comfortable “starting position,” that Izzo and the staff will add two more new players to the team. It is understandable why a guy like Jaden Schutt may look at this depth chart and think that heading to another school with fewer returning high-quality players might ensure a faster transition into regular playing minutes; it would be a shame to miss out on Schutt, but by no means the end of the world (particularly if Gabe Brown decided to come back for a fifth season). It does seem like Schutt is currently trending toward Duke, though.
But if you look at the front-court, there is a huge opportunity for early, significant minutes. Izzo and the staff can use that fact, hopefully, to help convince Rodgers, Huff, and/or some potential transfers or late-blooming kids to come to East Lansing. Whether it is the plan-A guys, or the plan-B guys, the staff will definitely add solid players, who will be in developmental roles, if they are true centers. The roster is looking in great shape despite the odd development of this 2022 recruiting class.