Rich get richer as Michigan State lands 'super quick' four-star point guard Jaden Akins
There’s no telling if there will be college basketball this fall and winter, but that’s hardly slowed the recruiting momentum in East Lansing.
On Thursday afternoon, Tom Izzo and his staff kept the ball rolling as Michigan State gained a commitment from four-star point guard Jaden Akins of Farmington. Akins is the fifth player in the top 70 of the 247Sports Composite rankings to commit to the Spartans this summer and third for the 2021 class after he made his announcement official with a post on social media.
The 6-foot-3 Akins, who chose Michigan State over a group of finalists that included Michigan, DePaul, Florida, Northwestern and Mississippi State, is ranked the No. 70 overall player in the nation by 247Sports and the 10th-best point guard. He joins a class that includes a pair of standout shooting guards – five-star Max Christie from Rolling Meadows, Ill., and four-star Pierre Brooks from Detroit Douglass.
Christie comes in at No. 14 in the nation and the top shooting guard while Brooks is at No. 66. Akins’ commitment bumps Michigan State up to the No. 4 class in 2021.
“When you talk about his improvement and the speed he has and how much better he can become,” Rivals recruiting analyst Corey Evans said, “there aren’t many better in the ’21 class at the point guard spot.
“He kind of reminds you of a De’Aaron Fox, who went to Kentucky and now is with the Sacramento Kings. He’s a lefty with good size, just super, super quick, can shoot it, is explosive and has a really good feel on pace for the game.”
What makes the recruiting run from Izzo and company even more impressive has been the fact they’ve also pulled in two blue-chippers for the 2022 class, and each could potentially reclassify to 2021, creating a class the Spartans have never seen.
That duo is led by Ypsilanti’s Emoni Bates, who is considered the top-rated player in the country regardless of class. He’ll play his junior season at the newly formed Ypsilanti Prep Academy and will be joined on that team by Akins. Whether Bates ever plays at Michigan State is unclear – he could opt to go straight to professional basketball – but it’s still a win for Michigan State.
Also in the ’22 class is five-star Canadian center Enoch Boakye. He’s listed as the 18th-best overall prospect in the country by 247Sports.
It’s a group that has come together under Izzo, as well as the work of assistants Dwayne Stephens, Dane Fife and Mike Garland, along with director of recruiting Doug Wojcik.
“They’ve just done an awesome job,” Evans said. “To get all these kids committed this early in the process before it's even September, during a pandemic, and to not go far from campus to get all this talent … And these are three kids that are all very, very familiar with each other and have some chemistry and cohesion already. It means a lot, especially during the times that we're in.”
Decisions on a potential reclassification from either Bates or Boakye won’t be coming anytime soon, but it sounds like that would be the preferred option for Boakye.
His coach at George Harris Prep Academy in Mississauga, Ontario, George Aramide, told The Detroit News last month it’s something they are exploring.
“He is sticking in the ’22 class for now, but he may have enough credits to graduate early,” Aramide said. “If it works out then we may reclass up to 2021, but for now he's in the 2022 class.”
A reclassification from either player could create some scholarship issues, technically putting Michigan State over the limit of 13. However, players like Aaron Henry, Rocket Watts and Joey Hauser could be early entrants into the NBA Draft – Henry was in for most of the summer before deciding to return for his junior season – and there could also be transfers.
Either way, it seems like there would be roster place by the time the 2021-22 season got rolling.
Until then, Izzo and his staff will relish in their run while turning their attention to whether or not there will be games this season.
“A lot of it is having the proper talent in the state which, of course, they have,” Evans said. “But I also think it’s having the right staff. Garland and Fife and Stephens -- it's crucial. And having Doug Wojcik on staff and having him as their recruiting coordinator helped kind of set the foundation and have the proper steps in place. It's crazy because two, three years ago it seemed like Michigan State was missing on everyone. Vernon Carey and Isaiah Stewart, whatever it was. Now here we are and Michigan State in a matter of the last four months replaces Duke and Kentucky as the biggest recruiting animal on the trail. It’s definitely impressive.”