Tom Izzo wins celeb scramble, talks MSU hoops; Calvin Johnson excited to meet rookie WR

Richard Silva
The Detroit News

Detroit — Like every Division I basketball coach in the country, Tom Izzo knows how important recruiting is. No matter how well you can coach, you need playmakers to get the job done.

And that was true for Izzo on Tuesday, but this time, he relied on some talented golfers to lead him to victory in the AREA 313 Celebrity Scramble ahead of this week's Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club.

"It's all good recruiting...Matt (Kuchar) was unbelievable, Joe Hooks was unbelievable," Izzo said after winning the championship belt. "My other man was good, and I sucked. I hate to say it, but I've been doing my day job, so all the alums out there know that I'm not a good golfer right now, but I'll get better as this month comes along."

Matt Kuchar's group, including Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo, begin to celebrate after winning the AREA 313 Celebrity Scramble presented by Total Health Care Foundation at the Detroit Golf Club in Detroit, Michigan on July 26, 2022.

The majority of alums, if not all, couldn't care less about Izzo's abilities with a club, but something they do care for is what Izzo thinks about the center position heading into next season.

"I think we've got a lot of good options, but that is our one position that maybe doesn't have many definitives," he said. "I don't think I'm going to worry about it in July, I think I'm going to worry about it more in September (and) October, but we've made some progress with our guys.

"I'm pleased with all of them. Three of the guys that we've got that'll be vying for that position, we'll see how they do as the end of the summer comes."

As for the perimeter, Izzo once again compared sophomore Jaden Akins to a former Spartan, but this time, it wasn't to Charlie Bell, who he's referenced in the past.

"I think everybody can see that Jaden Akins is much improved and he's going to be, I think, a force because he can play both ends of the court," Izzo said. "A lot like a Gary Harris did a few years ago."

Izzo also mentioned Pierre Brooks as someone who is shooting the ball well, and said AJ Hoggard is "in the best shape of his life"

Megatron's thoughts on Lions

Former Detroit Lions star wide receiver Calvin Johnson also was in attendance for the scramble, and while the relationship between the organization and Johnson has had some hiccups at times, he still plans on paying attention as training camp approaches.

Lions great Calvin Johnson is all smiles after sinking a long putt during the AREA 313 Celebrity Scramble.

"I definitely keep an eye on it," he said. "I've always been good with coach Dan (Campbell, I) played with him ... I hope that he does great things here."

A former teammate of Campbell for two years, Johnson said he's not shocked about the second-year head coach having such great respect from the locker room.

"It don't surprise me, he's a former NFL player," Johnson said. "Not only a player, but he was a starter with basically one arm. A lot of guys probably don't know that, but the guys that do, you respect that, and if you really understood his history, the guys in that locker room will respect him that much more."

Johnson also touched on rookie receiver Jameson Williams, who the Lions traded up for, as he said he's looking forward to eventually sitting down with the former Alabama star.

"I was happy with the move because I saw the kid play when he was in college," he said. "He had an injury, but we've seen plenty of guys bounce back from that. ... I actually look forward to meeting the kid and spending some time with him. Just to learn about him, learn more about his mindset, because he has high expectations. He just needs to be ready for it."

The Red Wings' Dylan Larkin hits from the rough, and behind a tree, during the AREA 313 Celebrity Scramble.

Larkin welcomes new teammates

The Detroit Red Wings brought in an array of free-agent acquisitions this offseason, including longtime Winnipeg Jet Andrew Copp.

"Obviously, there's a lot of new faces, so we're going to have to mesh quick," team captain and two-time All-Star Dylan Larkin said. "I've already spoke to a lot of the new signings. Everyone's excited, everyone's very knowledgeable about the players we have and obviously the pieces we've added."

Copp and the rest of the free-agent class won't be the only new part of the team, of course, as Derek Lalonde became the 28th head coach in Red Wings history last month.

"We talked right away when he was hired, and it seems like he's very excited to come in," Larkin said of Lalonde. "Obviously, everyone knows through what Steve has said and his press conference to start, team defense is something that we're going to really work on, and I think the guys that were on the team last year and the new signings are excited for that challenge."

Lalonde was in Tampa Bay as an assistant coach, helping the Lighting win back-to-back Stanley Cups.

"I haven't been this excited for going to camp and going into the season in quite some time," Larkin said. "There's a huge upside for our team, we just have to go out and prove it."

rsilva@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @Rich_Silva18