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Come up with the 20 best basketball players in Michigan State history.
Seems like a simple enough task, but once you really start diving and breaking down numbers, comparing team success and factoring not only the impact on the program but the different style of play in various eras, it’s tough.
And, oh yeah, there’s way more than 20 “great” players in the Spartans’ history. Imagine winning a national title and earning All-American honors and not making the list (hello, Jason Richardson) or holding the single-season blocks record and barely being considered (yes, we’re talking about Jaren Jackson Jr.).
But that’s the reality when trying to pare this list down. Quite a few outstanding players aren’t on the list simply because they weren’t around long enough, including Gary Harris, Bryn Forbes, Zach Randolph, Richardson and Jackson.
Others, well, there’s no good explanation other than a top-20 list can’t have 50. How else do you keep off the likes of Paul Davis, Maurice Ager, Alan Anderson, Chris Hill, Shannon Brown, Durrell Summers, Matt Steigenga, Adreian Payne, Kirk Manns, Julius McCoy, Horace Walker or Andre Hutson? I mean, Hutson won a Big Ten title every year he played and was in three straight Final Fours.
So that’s what we were facing. We did our best, and there is sure to be plenty of disagreement. Obviously, there’s a heavy presence of players from the Tom Izzo and Jud Heathcote era. Nine of the 16 played under Izzo while seven played for Heathcote. There’s probably 50 guys with a case to be included, yet, this is our list. Here you go, the top 20 players in MSU history.