After the NBA Draft declaration period ended, players who did not sign agents were given the chance to go back to school and a few big names decided to do just that. ESPN’s Myron Medcalf decided to put together the all too perfectly named “Way-too-early Top 25” for this post-draft period.
Michigan State had arguably the most major return of any team in the country when Miles Bridges decided to come back to school to add to a now-ridiculously deep front court. They also received news earlier this month that grad transfer Ben Carter earned a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA. He and fellow big man Gavin Schilling will both be returning from injuries that sidelined them for all of last season.
That development inclined Medcalf to place Tom Izzo’s Spartans at No. 3 in the nation. Here is what he had to say about MSU in 2017-18:
Miles Bridges (16.9 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 39 percent from the 3-point line) compiled numbers that would send most sensational freshmen to the NBA draft. But Bridges refused the one-and-done experience to return to a dynamic Michigan State squad that could dominate the Big Ten after a rare finish outside the top four in the conference standings last season. His presence next to five-star recruit Jaren Jackson gives the Spartans a combination of talent that few programs in the country will be able to defend. And it doesn’t end there. Nick Ward (13.9 PPG, 6.5 RPG) leads a group that will return four of its top-five scorers from last season. Ben Carter (8.6 PPG in 2015-16 at UNLV) finally gets a chance to contribute after missing last season because of a knee injury. Gavin Schilling and freshman Xavier Tillman will enhance coach Tom Izzo’s frontcourt. His squad isn’t higher in this poll, because it’s not clear if the Spartans addressed their challenges with turnovers (20.5 percent of their possessions, 304th) and free throws (67 percent, 285th).
The latest “way-too-early” polls has Arizona sitting atop at No. 1, followed by Kansas at No. 2 then Michigan State. Rounding out the top five was Kentucky (No. 4) and Duke (No. 5). Other Big Ten teams in the ranking included Minnesota (No. 15) and Northwestern (No. 20).
No where to be found in rankings is Michigan State’s in-state rivals down the road in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines and head coach John Beilein are losing a lot of production and experience from last year’s team, including big man D.J. Wilson deciding to stay committed to the NBA.
Yet despite the return of Moe Wagner for his junior season along with the addition of Ohio transfer Jaaron Simmons (who also withdrew from the NBA Draft pool), the the Wolverines are not getting any love from Medcalf.
Here is a link to the full list to see where the chips fell.