Houston – Tom Izzo was named to the 2016 Basketball Hall of Fame on Monday, but that was just one thing on his mind.
He’s trying to wrap up his recruiting class in pursuit of No. 1 prospect Josh Jackson, but he’s also waiting to see if Deyonta Davis will return for his sophomore season.
“I’ll be honest with you, I think it’s 50-50,” Izzo said Monday after he was announced as a member of the Hall of Fame at the Hyatt Regency, just hours ahead of the national championship game. “I think everybody is just gathering information. I’ve gathered more information and the NBA comes out with some things that are a little bit more legit for the underclassmen.”
The deadline for underclassmen to enter the draft is May 25, a little more than a week after the NBA draft combine. That would allow players to take part in the combine and still return to college.
Davis, who averaged 7.5 points and 5.5 rebounds this season, has been projected as a first-round pick by several analysts, going as high as a top-15 selection by some.
But Izzo doesn’t put much stock in where a player is selected. He wants his guys to be ready to begin a long career, not wash out after their first contract.
“To me, if he is drafted 12 or 25 it doesn’t change my opinion,” Izzo said. “Maybe there is a little more money but I think it’s more what he can handle and what is good for him to get to the second contract. That’s how I’m going to give my final advice, but he’s gonna make his own decisions.”
Ryan misses again
While Izzo got into the Naismith Hall of Fame in his first year on the ballot, fellow Big Ten coach Bo Ryan of Wisconsin did not make after his second year as a finalist.
Ryan went to two straight Final Fours before stepping down early this season and handing the job over to longtime assistant Greg Gard.
“I guess I’m surprised a lot of other coaches haven’t been selected,” Izzo said. “There are so many good guys out there that probably deserve it more than I do. But at the same time I don’t know the process. It’s really quiet and if you told me 2,000 people voted or 20 people voted, I wouldn’t know. I don’t know what the criteria is; I’m just tickled to death I’m one of them.”
Finalists are voted on by the Hall of Fame's honors committee, a 24-member group made up of Hall of Famers, basketball executives, media members and others. Finalists who receive 18 votes from that committee make it to induction.
Keeping it quiet
The voting is secretive, and once the class is decided upon, it’s hard to get any information on who made it. Izzo found out Wednesday but hardly told anyone outside his mom, his wife and his children.
“I didn’t even tell Mariucci until this morning if that give you a good idea,” Izzo joked, referring to his close friend and former Lions coach Steve Mariucci. “(I told) my staff this morning, my AD last night because he started to hear it.”