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There isn’t much you’ll be able to say to make the favorite Spartan in your life feel better today. Michigan State’s shocking loss to Middle Tennessee State was one of the biggest upsets in NCAA Tournament history and everybody, including the players, knows it.
Of course, the pieces the Spartans will lose in the off-season will hurt. Denzel Valentine is a Player of the Year candidate and guys like him are just irreplaceable. Other senior stars like Bryn Forbes and Matt Costello will be moving on too, but believe it or not, head coach Tom Izzo and the Spartans will be okay.
In fact, they’ll be more than okay. The Spartans are set to be much better next year than they were this year. It all starts with recruiting, where Tom Izzo has arguably the best class he’s ever had coming to school in the fall. Led by 5-star forward and Flint-native Miles Bridges, Izzo’s 2016 class is filled with star power, and they might not be done yet.
Bridges is without question one of the top players in the 2016 class, but he may not be the best player from that class heading to Michigan State in the fall. The country’s top undecided high school prospect, California-born and Michigan-raised Josh Jackson (Napa, CA) is still deciding where he’ll play his college ball. Michigan State is one of three powerhouse programs under his consideration, along with Arizona and Kansas.
If Jackson were to commit to the Spartans, you can sure as heck bet they’ll be a popular pick for preseason No. 1 come next season.
Among those joining Bridges at MSU next fall to play on the hardwood is 5-star shooting guard Joshua Langford, the best SG in Alabama and fourth-best in the country; 4-star point guard and U of D Jesuit product Cassius Winston; and 4-star power forward Nick Ward out of Columbus.
All four, Langford and Ward in particular, should be making big impacts right away with both Costello and Forbes departing. Langford offers good size at the 2-spot at 6-foot-5. Ward is a a couple inches shorter than current MSU freshman Deyonta Davis at 6-foot-8 and will be much-needed for depth down in the paint. Winston will come in and immediately compete for the starting point guard spot.
Speaking of Davis and the ‘competition’ at some positions, who do the Spartans have coming back? Eron Harris will be back for his senior year and he could potentially be one of the top players from beyond the arc next season. Gavin Schilling also returns for his senior season, giving MSU some inside depth.
But the big question will be if Deyonta Davis will return. The freshman star could potentially be heading to the NBA in a very thin NBA Draft class. If he were to come back, it’d be a huge “addition” for MSU.
Today hurts, probably more so than any day in Michigan State basketball history. This team had a real chance to win a National Championship, but “could have’s” and “should have’s” mean nothing. This is what makes the tournament such a crazy spectacle in sports. Spartan fans will be seen for days with their heads hunched over and a look of disbelief on their faces, but make no mistake, Michigan State will come back from this loss and possibly be even better than they were before.