Even with the 2013 Big Ten Football Media days having wrapped up a few days ago, let’s not forget about basketball. For Michigan State, their roster this upcoming season will feature two seniors: point guard Keith Appling and center Adreian Payne. That will leave two empty spots to be filled for next year. And depending on the type of seasons that Gary Harris and Branden Dawson have, the Spartans could have as many as four vacancies on the roster to fill after this year. With the upcoming school year about a month away, it’s time to take a look at the 2014 Michigan State basketball recruiting scene and a list of players Tom Izzo and his staff have been going after this summer.
Jahlil Okafor C 6’10”, 265 Chicago, IL (Whitney Young High School)
It seems Izzo has set up somewhat of a camp in the Chicago area over the past couple of years. Both of last year’s commits: Alvin Ellis and Gavin Schilling hail from the Chicago area as well as former 2013 MSU target Jabari Parker and 2014 target Cliff Alexander. Okafor is another one of those targets from the Windy City. The first half of the well-known package deal with friend and AAU teammate Tyus Jones, Okafor is a massive (literally) talent and likely a one-and-done candidate.
Okafor (15) and Jones (5) have played together in the past and have made it well known their intentions to play together in college.(Photo by Nike Basketball/Getty Images)
Others in the mix: Arizona, Baylor, Duke, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio State,
Tyus Jones PG 6’1”, 171 Apple Valley, MN (Apple Valley High School)
For Tyus Jones and his buddy Jahlil Okafor, they’re as good a package deal as there has ever been, having stated that they are almost 100% positive they will be playing college ball together. There is no doubt that landing these two guys would be a huge win for Michigan State. However, historically Michigan State has not signed many of these one and done guys. While MSU has made these guys’ first cut, time will tell how long Michigan State will truly stay in the mix.
Others in the mix: Baylor, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Ohio State
Cliff Alexander PF 6’8”, 225 Chicago, IL (Curie High School)
An MSU target for a long time now, Alexander should Michigan State at the top of his list.
If Izzo is going to hit a home run with this class, this would be the guy to do it with. With the graduation of Derrick Nix last year and the Spartans to lose Adreian Payne this upcoming year, that leaves a huge void down low, a void Alexander certainly could fill. It seems Alexander has expressed a lot of interest in playing at Michigan State for a long time now and he could be one of the biggest signings of Izzo’s career.
Others in the mix: Arizona, Baylor, DePaul, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, Memphis
Tyler Ulis PG 5’8”, 150 Matteson, IL (Marian Catholic High School)
Make no mistake about it, the guy is small, but that hasn’t stopped Ulis into becoming one of the top recruits in the country.
With the upcoming departure of Appling, the Spartans will be in need of a point guard and this guy is a very foreseeable commit for Michigan State. The short, speedy point guard has Michigan State ties (his cousin being former Spartan guard Travis Walton). More offensive minded than his older kin, Ulis has called Michigan State a ‘dream school.’ Of all the guys Michigan State is going after, this is the one you should be able to count on the most.
Others in the mix: Colorado State, DePaul, Florida State, Iowa, Northwestern, Purdue
Kevon Looney PF 6’8”, 190 Milwaukee, WI (Milwaukee Hamilton High School)
Another top 10 recruit, Looney is a very versatile player and has drawn comparisons to players the caliber of Grant Hill and Kevin Durant. It seems like a stretch for Michigan State to land this guy but until the fat lady sings, don’t rule MSU out quite yet.
Others in the mix: Duke, Florida, Georgetown, Michigan, Tennessee, UCLA, Wisconsin
Jaylen Johnson PF 6’8”, 200 Ypsilanti, MI (Ypsilanti High School)
For the very young Johnson, his potential knows no bounds. (Photo by Daniel Brenner/Annarbor.com)
Johnson is the only in-state player to be offered by Coach Izzo and Michigan State so far for this class. Johnson, who has seemingly burst onto the scene this summer after shining in a few summer camps, lead Ypsilanti High School to the state quarterfinals this past year and is thought by many to be the best senior in the state of Michigan. Johnson is still very young and very raw and the sky is the limit potential-wise.
Others in the mix: Arizona State, Iowa State, Miami, Oregon, Texas A&M
Reid Travis PF 6’8”, 240 Minneapolis, MN (De La Salle High School)
A heavily recruited football player as well, Travis has the makings of your typical blue collar Michigan State basketball player being both a tough defender and rebounder. Travis could become more of a factor later on; much like 2013 commit Gavin Schilling was for Michigan State last year.
Others in the mix: Arizona, Boston College, Harvard, Iowa State, Minnesota, Purdue, UCLA, USC
Jordan Barnett SF 6’7”, 185 Saint Louis, MO (Christian Brothers College High School)
Barnett has largely flown under the radar up until this point in the recruiting process. An athletic and versatile threat, Barnett may be another one of those guys that becomes more of a factor later on.
Others in the mix: Florida, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Stanford
Devin Booker SG 6’5”, 185 Moss Point, MS (Moss Point High School)
Booker is one of the most talented three point shooters in this year’s class.
A talented three point shooter, Booker has received a lot of attention from John Beilein and in-state rival Michigan. Originally a Grand Rapids native, Booker is expected to narrow his list to five soon and Michigan State could very well make the cut.
Others in the mix: Alabama, Arkansas, Duke, Florida, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi State, Missouri, North Carolina, Stanford
Paul White PF 6’8”, 210 Chicago, IL (Whitney Young High School)
Another kid from Chicago, White is both a high school teammate of fellow MSU target Jahlil Okafor as well as AAU teammates with MSU target Tyler Ulis. At this point, White’s list of schools is still pretty long and Michigan State looks to be on the bottom end of it.
Others in the mix: Arizona, Georgetown, Connecticut, DePaul, Florida, Florida State
Abdul-Malik Abu PF 6’8”, 230 Boston, MA (Kimball Union Academy)
Another guy whose list of schools is wide open up until this point, the big man from Beantown has all sorts of schools targeting him. Michigan State reached out to this guy about a year and a half ago but it appears has now fallen off pace with the dozens of other schools going after Abu.
Others in the mix: More like, who’s not? Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, N.C. State Providence, and NC State to name a few
Sam Logwood SF 6’6”, 200 La Porte, IN (La Lumiere High School)
Logwood’s list of offers has slowly risen as more and more schools learn more about him. It looks like he is going to allow more offers to come in and completely weigh out his options. Having not yet officially been offered by Michigan State, Logwood just picked up an offer from Iowa, his first from a Big Ten school and that could be where we see him end up.
Others in the mix: Auburn, Bradley, Indiana State, Iowa, Miami(OH)
Coach Izzo has been hard on the recruiting trail over the past few years, and it could be about to pay off big. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Make no doubt about it, it is literally impossible for Michigan State to sign every one of these guys, both because there is not enough spots on the team and it’s just not practical, but this is a collection of the players Izzo and his staff have shown the most interest in. With this summer coming to a close and the upcoming school year about a month away, we may start to see some of these guys make their commitments. And it will certainly be MSU’s goal to land at least two of these talented players.
Follow Ryan Squanda on twitter @squandaryan