Michigan State mailbag: A bigs problem? No rush needed to land post recruit

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News
Cassius Winston is carving out a place among Michigan State's all-time best point guards.

It’s been a wild few days in the Big Ten as Michigan State is suddenly back in a tie for first place with just six games to play in the regular season.

But before we dive into where the team stands right now, the mailbag delves into the recruiting world as Michigan State looks to still find a big man for the 2019 class after missing out on some highly rated players.

After that, we’ll decide where Cassius Winston ranks all-time at Michigan State, the status of Kyle Ahrens, and, of course, freshmen who aren’t playing.

We also get a football question in at the end about the quarterback position.

Question. We still expect Izzo to bring in a post player for next year, right? Are there junior college guys out there that are worthwhile, or must be a grad transfer? — @DavidJa88692244

Answer. Michigan State will bring in a post player if it thinks there’s a player available who can help, if not right away at some point in the next couple of years. Here’s the thing to remember: Nothing says the Spartans have to bring in another player. Yeah, another big would be great, but with all of the targets committed elsewhere, the Spartans would be playing catch-up on anyone else, and there’s not exactly a ton of top-rated guys out there not committed.

As for the junior college route, I know of no one the Spartans are looking at right now. It’s not exactly been standard procedure for Michigan State. And when it comes to graduate transfers, we’ll have to wait and see how it plays out. But if the Spartans think there might be someone available, holding on to the scholarship now might not be the worst move.

Q. Today's offer to Julius Marble seems a stretch since he's an unranked prospect. Has there been any indication of JUCO looks or offers? — @pfnnewmedia

A. We covered the junior college idea in the last question. As for Marble, it is a late offer for a player from Dallas that has been mostly under the radar. At 6-foot-8 and 225 pounds, Marble is an interesting prospect. The highlight tapes are just that — highlights — but they do show an athletic big who seems to understand the game well. His offers had been from the likes of Pepperdine, Texas-San Antonio and Saint Louis. But he drew an offer from Oklahoma State a couple of weeks ago, and received the same from Izzo this week. Where it goes from here, we’ll see. But short of a monster finish to the season for Marble, the Michigan State offer is his best, so he could be in East Lansing next season.

Q. Where does Cassius rank for you all time since Magic? I’m not ashamed to say I put him 1st. I don’t expect you to agree but what do you think? — @ChazzleDazzle_

A. It hurts that you so quickly think I’d disagree. A couple of names that probably belong in that discussion are Scott Skiles and Mateen Cleaves, and then I’d put Kalin Lucas in the group, too. Skiles and Lucas are top five all-time in scoring at Michigan State while both are top seven in total assists. Cleaves, of course, wasn’t the scorer of the rest of the group, but has the most assists in program history and has the national championship to his credit. Winston, at the very least, is in that group right now. Win the Big Ten Player of the Year and get Michigan State to a Final Four, possibly more, and maybe he steps above the rest … except for Magic.

Q. MSU vs Ohio State in East Lansing. What chance do you give the Buckeyes to pull the upset? You know their other big man is out for year with injury, right? — @DavidJa88692244

A. Well, if you’re talking about Kyle Young, he came back last week against Penn State, so not sure that will have much of an impact. As for a chance at the upset, I’m not sure I’d bet against anything this season in the Big Ten. That said, this is a good matchup for Michigan State, especially if Nick Ward plays the way he did last time against the Buckeyes. He did a good job drawing fouls against Ohio State’s Kaleb Wesson, which changes the Ohio State offense dramatically. Also, expect Michigan State to continue to push the pace after scoring 17 in transition in the last meeting.

Q. Does it seem that the new “hook and hold” penalty hasn’t been in our favor, even after two failed reviews (IU and UW), or is it just depending on the crew that doesn’t seem to want to call it in our favor? — @JTNH1489

A. I’m not sure it’s in anyone’s favor. I guess that depends what team you’re rooting for. I know this, Izzo hasn’t really been upset with the officials on any of these calls this season. The way the rule was written, it tends to be an easy call when the referees review it. Does two shots and the ball seem excessive? To me it does, at least most of the time. I understand why the rule was implemented, but it seems that it often is being called in instances that are fairly innocent. In other words, just call it a common foul and move on. We’ll see if that changes after the season.

Q. How’s Kyle (Ahrens) and is (Thomas) Kithier going to get more time? Shooting chains off of (Foster) Loyer yet? — @redwingandy1

Michigan State freshman point guard Foster Loyer is averaging just 5.8 minutes per game.

A. Let me hit the last part first: There are no chains on Loyer. Until he’s able to defend at a marginal level and not get overwhelmed by bigger, more athletic defenders, his time will be limited. This isn’t Clarkston. You think the coaching staff is keeping a kid on the bench they think would be out there scoring 25 a night? Sorry. Ahrens, we’ll see. It’s probably gonna be touch and go the rest of the season. With a bad back, that’s kind of how it’s going to be until he can give it time for real rest. That’s not gonna happen, so Ahrens likely will be limited in practices to keep him ready for games. And Kithier happens to be playing at a position of depth. So, short of injury or foul trouble to Nick Ward, Xavier Tillman or Kenny Goins, Kithier’s time will be limited.

Q. Wanted to ask this at a more relevant time, i.e. DII playoffs, but wasn't on Twitter. Since MSU football is quiet now, is there any chance that Jayru (Campbell) transfers from Ferris to MSU, or any other offense-limited, questionable-quarterback-play D1 school? — @RickDarnell8

More: Ferris State's Jayru Campbell (Cass Tech) wins Harlon Hill Trophy

A. This is a pretty simple answer, especially when it comes to Campbell. No. Campbell won’t transfer to Michigan State. And when it comes to another quarterback transfer, I wouldn’t expect the Spartans to be headed that route, either. There might have been some thought of that briefly, but it never got very far and, like it or not, Brian Lewerke will be the starter in spring and heading into preseason camp. Barring injury, the more interesting quarterback situation to watch his how much progress Theo Day and incoming freshman Payton Thorne make.


Twitter: @mattcharboneau