Fans filled up the Holt High School gym to get their first look at Michigan State’s 2023-2024 roster playing organized basketball. Yes, the Spartans are split up across teams (no more than 2 players from a current collegiate roster may be on a pro-am team per the NCAA), still it was an exciting night that will drive the hype train even faster for the upcoming men’s basketball season.
First off - the games…. Wait, no one cares. Seriously, this is MONEYBALL where the threes fall from the rafters, the dunks come from guys jumping into the rafters and the hyperbole lives in the rafters.
This is a tournament designed to entertain and awe. The athleticism on display last night did not disappoint. Eleven 2023-2024 Michigan State players took the court last night, and to a man they came to play.
The four new freshmen were the focus of much of the crowd’s attention but some of the returning players managed to steal the show.
Looking at the players of the game gives a small glimpse into the incredible Spartan talent on display.
Across the packed night Spartans took home the player of the game nods including:
Coen Carr with 26 points and 10 rebounds
Jaxon Kohler with 28 points and 18 rebounds
And then sharing co-player of their game:
Xavier Booker with 35 points and 20 rebounds
Jeremy Fears with 37 points and 10 rebounds and 6 assists
Those numbers from Fears are simply astounding. Yes, Moneyball packs in the stats (see previous misleading outcomes like Marcus Bingham Jr. going nuts, and Pierre Brooks averaging 40 points a game, etc.), the crazy thing is Moneyball may not actually be the best environment to show off all that Fears can do.
Fears has a strong track record distributing the ball and playing excellent half court offense. Moneyball essentially is a track meet with minimal defense. Moneyball never determines anyone’s future. It’s still tantalizing to think of the skills that will be on display on top of these when the season actually starts.
It should also be mentioned that Jaxon Kohler looked like a totally different guy.
If we are looking for signs of the 2nd year leap, the most convincing is not the point total, rather it’s the physical change. Kohler spent much of last year as a slightly soft looking “big kid” type of freshman. This year he looks like a grown man, with a much stronger and fitter physique.
Mady Sissoko looked bigger than ever and to some observers the confidence Carson Cooper brought to the floor was one of the biggest takeaways from the night.
Anyone that thought the center position - with or without Booker playing the five - would be easy to predict this year will be disappointed. Sissoko, Kohler and Cooper all look like they are getting bigger and stronger.
And on a night where dunks were raining, the most surprising may have been the power that Fears brought to his plethora of slams. Here is just one of them a Fears steals in transition and finishes with style:
Jeremy Fears with the steal & dunk game 1 of Moneyball pic.twitter.com/tgRC6qN35c— John (@FromEastLansing) June 29, 2023
Yes, Fears - and almost everyone - had some nice slams. This event was tailor made for one new Spartan, and that is Coen Carr.
The dunking phenom rocked the rim from every conceivable angle. To get a small glimpse, here is a a full minute of Coen Carr dunks. Enjoy the hype season that is Moneyball.