Come & Go: The New Norm of College Basketball

Come & Go: The New Norm of College Basketball

Matthew Merrifield, Sports Writer

After a disappointing end to the 2020-21 season, there were many questions has to how the Spartan roster would look come November. With the NCAA giving all athletes an extra year of eligibility, and the ability to transfer without penalty, it was only a matter of time before the transfer portal was flooded with players from around the country.

For Michigan State, it was expected that at least two players would leave, but many thought there would be some major changes to the roster. Fifth year senior, Joshua Langford was given the option to stay for a sixth season in East Lansing, but he has already announced that he played his last game as a Spartan. Also, junior SF Aaron Henry has announced that he is entering the NBA draft, and although he can return if he goes undrafted, that is very unlikely with many current mock drafts have Henry being a late first round pick. These departures were expected, but sources close to the team knew it they weren’t the last as many players were upset with their roles and minutes in the rotation down the stretch last season. To date, four Spartans have entered their name into the transfer portal, including PG Foster Loyer, PG Jack Hoiberg, CG Rocket Watts, and former Dakota Cougar PF Thomas Kithier. As the Spartans made their push for the tournament Loyer, Hoiberg and Kithier saw little to no playing time, which is why they are transferring. Rocket Watts on the other hand, played a big role in Michigan State’s run as he dropped a career high 21-points against Michigan which was the deciding factor of getting into the tournament. Watts had been very inconsistent in his two years with East Lansing, and was expected to be the point guard this year, but never got comfortable.

While these departures seem defeating, there is plenty of talent coming to East Lansing for next season. The 2021 recruiting class for MSU ranks 10th in the country and includes three of the top-75 recruits in the country. Now there are an additional three scholarships available for transfers. One spot has already been filled by PG Tyson Walker who averaged 19-ppg and 5-apg at Northeastern last season. Walker has three years of eligibility left, and is a major upgrade from Loyer and Hoiberg, while filling a position that MSU needed help at all of last year. At least one of the remaining spots will be filled with another transfer, but that last spot could be held open for the top recruit from the 2022 recruiting class. Forward Emoni Bates from Ypsilanti is considered to be one of the best high school prospects since Lebron and is thought to be the next Kevin Durant. While these are huge expectations for  a 17-year old, if you’ve seen his performance in high school, he’s definitely living up to the hype. Bates committed to MSU last year and could reclassify to play in East Lansing a year early. With at least one spot to fill, it’s expected that Tom Izzo will target a big man to help the other major need for this team. The top two options as of right now are Tre Mitchell from UMASS who was a top-100 recruit out of high school and has dominated the Atlantic-1o and Garrison Brooks from UNC who struggled last season, but averaged 17-ppg and 9-rbg as a junior in the  2019-20 season.

After a disappointing season last year it’s easy to lose hope, but the additions Tom Izzo us making, expect the Spartans to return to form in the fall.