East Lansing — Michigan State most likely wrapped up its 2018 recruiting class this week with the commitment of Indianapolis forward Aaron Henry, one that has the Spartans ranked among the top classes in the nation.
In fact, according to Rivals.com, the Spartans’ five-player class is currently ranked as the best in the country. That could change as several highly rated recruits have yet to commit, but what is clear about the Michigan State group is that while it might not have a superstar, it is as solid as they come from top to bottom.
“It’s pretty clearly a strong class,” said Eric Bossi, a national basketball analyst for Rivals. “And I think it’s a class that has guys who certainly are going to be able to help out some early, but what I think what is really good about this is you got a great core of individuals who are gonna be high-level juniors and seniors most likely.”
So, while there might not be a one-and-done in the mix, the production shouldn’t be lacking.
In addition to the 6-foot-6 Henry from Ben Davis High in Indianapolis, the Spartans had already landed commitments from 6-8 forward Thomas Kithier of Clarkston, 5-10 guard Foster Loyer of Clarkson, 6-10 forward Marcus Bingham of Grand Rapids Catholic Central and 6-8 forward Gabe Brown of Belleville.
It has the makings of players that fit Michigan State’s program.
“I think it’s hard to not think anything but the world of Tom Izzo and what he’s done up there but I think this is certainly what you kind of expect from him,” Bossi said. “It’s got some hard-nosed guys that kind of fit his style. It’s got some guys that have upside and I think (Izzo’s) been a little underrated nationally when it comes to developing guys over the years. So, it’s got a little bit of everything.
“It’s just a good core class that covers several needs that you can build around in the future. And when you get a class like this then you can go after and sustain a one-and-done guy or a two-and-done guy that you maybe weren’t expecting.”
Whether any of these five players become that remains to be seen. However, when it comes to upside, most agree the 200-pound Bingham is the player who could get exponentially better.
“He’s 6-10, he runs the court, he’s long, he’s a good athlete, he’s got some skill already,” said Brian Snow, basketball recruiting analyst for Scout.com. “Now he’s got to get a lot stronger and he’s not gonna be ready to compete right away but he’s a kid down the road — two, three, four years from now you can look at him like, ‘Wow, this could be the Big Ten player of the year.’ Now that said, he could also be playing at Western Michigan, but he’s got that upside.”
Added Bossi, “You could have one of those guys who goes from being really good to uh oh, how long is he gonna be here real quick.”
The analysts agree on Henry, as well, who made his commitment on Monday after taking an official visit to Michigan State over the weekend. He canceled other visits and picked the Spartans over the likes of Xavier, Butler and Ohio State.
He’s taken off over the last several months and quickly became a priority for the Spartans.
“He’s a tough kid who’s really athletic and he’s gotten a lot better over the last eight or nine months,” Snow said. “His high school team won a state title so he’s familiar with how to win. He just does a lot of things really well. He’s got to continue to improve his shot and maybe get a little bit more skilled with the ball, but he’s a really good high-energy kid who is a big-time athlete who can make plays.”
With things taken care of for 2018, Izzo and his staff can spend all of their recruiting efforts on 2019 and 2020.
There are a handful of players on the radar for 2019 and a few are high priorities, including New Haven’s Romeo Weems, a five-star forward according to Rivals, and forward Keion Brooks, a four-star from Ft. Wayne, Ind. Also being looked at by the Spartans are Southfield Christian forward Harlond Beverly, Detroit point guard Rocket Watts and forward Trayce Jackson-Davis Greenwood (Ind.) Center Grove.
“Romeo Weems sure seems to be a pretty big focus for them and seems to be kind of right in their wheelhouse of guys they’ve done really well with,” Bossi said. “Nationally the perception is that Michigan State is gonna be tough to beat with Weems and he’s been on campus a bunch of times and anybody looking at that reasonably can see why they’d be in good shape with him.
“(Having the 2018 class completed) gives them more time to go in with a guy like Harlon Beverly in-state who’s really intriguing and starting to kind of put it together but is still kind of an upside guy right now. They’ve got all the time in the world to go in and investigate these guys and really determine who fits.”
National player rankings in parentheses. .