Hoffman and Little Caesars Bowl co-founder George Perles said they plan to continue their game, with the Mid-American Conference, without the Big Ten and at a new venue, perhaps Comerica Park.
Comerica Park in December for MAC football is dumb.
But so is the Big Ten in this, if it bites on Ford Field’s proposal, choosing the Fords over Mike Ilitch (who owns Little Caesars) and for what ESPN reported to be an ACC foe over the MAC.
The Big Ten has only three times supplied the Motor City-turned-Little Caesars Bowl with a team â€” twice Purdue, once Northwestern â€” because the game usually fell in the pecking order beneath its bowl-eligible teams.
The draw, however, was never the Big Ten. It was Central Michigan and Western Michigan and Toledo that brought in the best crowds, often north of 50,000 fans. Regionally, certain years, the game was a big deal to those schools.
And, if a Big Ten team was the opponent, all the better. But the fans came from the MAC. They won’t for N.C. State or some other middling ACC program.
Certainly for television dollars and perhaps for the Big Ten’s new anti-pecking-order bowl system â€” an affiliated bowl has to select five different teams over six years â€” this makes more sense. After all, if the third- or fourth-place team is going to be shipped to Detroit in December, facing the MAC wouldn’t be acceptable.
But there is no reason the Big Ten, if it wants a Detroit postseason presence, couldn’t make that game exempt from the new bowl slotting system, having its seventh or eighth team always there.
This much I know: Purdue vs. Wake Forest won’t draw what Purdue-CMU or Purdue-WMU did.
Michigan, Ohio State, Nebraska and Western Michigan on the road in the same year? Michigan State may never have seen a more daunting road slate in one season.
I told colleague Joe Rexrode it’d write an entire blog post including the Spartans’ 2015 date in Kalamazoo as part of this road gauntlet, but alas, I don’t have the talent to pull off the tongue-in-cheek humor for that long. Nor do I want to completely insult what may or may not be a competitive test for MSU.
The Big Ten released its schedule for 2014 Thursday. The schedule, in terms of home and road opponents, will be flipped in 2015. That’s how far MSU’s coaches, players and fans know the road to a Big Ten title.
Here’s the 2014 schedule:
Aug. 30 Jacksonville State
Sept. 13 at Oregon
Sept. 20 Wyoming
Sept. 27 Eastern Michigan
Oct. 4 Nebraska
Oct. 11 at Purdue
Oct. 18 at Indiana
Oct. 25 Michigan
Nov. 8 Ohio State
Nov. 15 at Maryland
Nov. 22 Rutgers
Nov. 29 at Penn State
And what’s known 2015 (league dates aren’t out yet) …
Sept. 12 Oregon
Sept. 19 At Western Michigan
Sept. 26 Central Michigan
At Ohio State
A few thoughts …
– I wrote a column recently about how this season, before MSU begins play in the East Division, would be a good time to win a Big Ten title. If MSU finds an offense, 2014 might not be so bad, either. At the very least, it’s an incredibly enticing home schedule. The problem is, getting Michigan, Ohio State and Nebraska at home together means MSU gets them on the road together a year later. And, beyond that, Michigan and Ohio State are likely to be a home or road pair every year. For an MSU team that hasn’t been to a Rose Bowl in more than a quarter-century, this actually isn’t a bad thing. Consistent Big Ten titles are much harder with this draw. But, for the Spartans, getting to Pasadena once is the goal right now. All-or-nothing scheduling years help that cause.
– With Michigan visiting Spartan Stadium in 2014 — as the Big Ten schedule resets itself — MSU sees the Wolverines twice in a row in East Lansing. The talent differential between these programs right now is minimal and so home and road really matters. My first thought on this was that Michigan and Brady Hoke were a bit lucky to survive, 12-10, at home this year, or, the losing streak would have had a fair chance to reach seven games. At that point, Hoke would be 0-4 against MSU and the Michigan-MSU dynamic — the Spartans’ inferiority complex vs. the Wolverines’ arrogance — would have shifted somewhat. It already has a bit. Michigan fans are more sensitive about this rivalry than they were a decade ago and I’ve never felt a greater collective exhale than this season at Michigan Stadium. Wolverine fans in the stands and press box were clearly relieved, and understood how close these programs matchup physically right now.
– Lastly, the first real flaw in the new Big Ten appeared Thursday. Wisconsin’s 2014 schedule doesn’t include Michigan, MSU or Ohio State and the Badgers get Nebraska in Madison. Their path to a championship game is ridiculous in comparison with anyone in the East Division. In 2015, Wisconsin won’t see U-M, MSU or OSU, either. Barry Alvarez apparently has some pull with Jim Delany.
CHICAGO — Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis were both available for interviews Wednesday morning, as the league’s ADs meetings wrapped up.
Some of the topics were repetitive from Tuesday’s discussions, but both had interesting things to say on a number of fronts, including bowl games and a critical upcoming year for MSU football.
Here are the highlights, followed by my take on the issue:
– The news of the day came from Delany, who added to the Big Ten’s evolving bowl situation by saying, with the next round of bowl tie-ins (beginning in 2014), one condition for the Big Ten’s affiliated bowls is they’ll have to choose five different teams over a six-year period. This, of course, is beyond the Rose Bowl, and it’s unclear exactly what those tie-ins will be. It’s obvious the New York Pinstripe Bowl and Holiday Bowl are part of a mix of what’s expected to be six second- and third-tier bowls.
My take: I think this will be challenging to do. But I do like that the Big Ten is trying to avoid “bowl fatigue” — a popular buzz phrase this week — for its fan bases. Even if this only partially works, it’ll force us to change the way we evaluate bowls, no longer equating a Capital One trip as more prestigious than any other.
– Hollis spoke about the seriousness of this upcoming season for MSU football. It should be noted, he was prompted to do so by a question that afforded almost no other response. What was he supposed to say? “Well, guys, we’ll do our best and see how it goes.” Still, they were strong words and I’m sure, by some media outlets, will be sensationalized. Here’s some of what Hollis said, when asked at what point 6-6 becomes unacceptable: “(If it happened again) there’d probably be a gathering of troops to ask why are we there two years in a row. … It is a very important season for Michigan State, no question.”
My take: Again, this was prompted and a probably unavoidable response. But it is important that MSU’s AD is on record with such urgency. It’s a starting point with him if this season were to play out poorly.
– Both Delany and Hollis addressed the league’s mandate to improve non-league football scheduling, as was discussed thoroughly Tuesday. Hollis said MSU was on track to meeting the objectives anyway, but does think, in some years for some schools, logistics will make the ideal schedule impossible. His concern, however, is that schools aren’t rewarded in the secondary postseason market for tough scheduling.
My take: If the new bowl model, beyond the college football playoff and premier bowls, is dictated more by the Big Ten and a forced rotation of teams, as it appears, this will take care of itself. Bowls will be taking the only team left they haven’t had in the last six years and who a school played and beat will matter less than what bowl game they haven’t been to.
– Hollis said bringing back the MSU-Penn State end-of-season football rivalry isn’t a high enough priority for him to make it happen. He also likes the idea of finishing the season in markets such as Minneapolis, Chicago and New York.
My take: I thought this had developed into a nice rivalry over time, similar to what MSU-Wisconsin has become more recently. Hollis sounded less impressed by it. While a MSU-Penn State finale seems like a natural fit in the new division setup, Hollis is right that there are greater priorities as everything unfolds.
– It doesn’t appear there will be divisions in basketball. Delany said there isn’t any appetite for it. Hollis later said he thought the league needed to pick up the pace in planning for basketball in this new 14-team schedule.
My take: I think basketball is the revenue sport most hurt by having 14 teams in the Big Ten. The Big Ten’s emphasis on the regular season makes it unique and better than other leagues. Some of that will probably be lost. The sport needs to become a greater priority. But the money is in football.
– In terms of the timetable for the release of the 2014 football schedule and the new bowl lineup, the schedule should come this week, the bowl lineup some time next week or the following week.
My take: Read a book, go to the beach, play kickball, spend time with your family and forget about this stuff until late July or August.
– Both Delany and Hollis said MSU was inactive in expansion discussions, other than Hollis joking that the Big Ten is going to add the University of Toronto.
CHICAGO — The Big Ten’s athletic directors meetings have turned into an organized annual media event here in Chicago. Partly because of the news that’s emerged in recent years and because, when it’s not organized, reporters tend to ambush unsuspecting ADs and coaches (see 2011 … I’ll take that elevator, Jim Tressel).
This year’s meetings here in Chicago don’t have quite the juice of 2010 (Nebraska joining the Big Ten) or last year (the beginning of the escalation of serious college football playoff talk), but there’s plenty going on.
Discussions about scheduling, bowl games and expansion were among the noteworthy topics of Tuesday’s post-meeting interviews with several of the Big Ten’s ADs. Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis and commissioner Jim Delany are scheduled to be available Wednesday afternoon.
Here are a few highlights …
– Non-league scheduling has been a topic in the two days of athletic directors meetings. The idea, according to Michigan AD Dave Brandon and others said, is to play “relevant” football in September and create more excitement early in the season. “Football can be pretty boring in September if all your teams are playing down (in) competition,” Brandon said. Brandon also believes it’ll improve the quality of football. Every AD seems on board with this.
–Â The 2014 Big Ten football schedule will not apparently be out Wednesday, despite Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez’s assertion that it would. The correction came out late Tuesday afternoon. The 2015 schedule, Alvarez said, is simply the 2014 schedule flipped in terms of who each school plays home and road. We’ll see if he’s at least right on that.
– The idea of the MSU and Penn State game becoming an annual end-of-season matchup again hasn’t been discussed, according to Penn State AD Dave Joyner, but is a possibility, and one I think makes sense. This Land Grant Trophy game had developed into a decent rivalry and worthwhile season-finale tradition, before being broken up when it wasn’t protected when the Legends and Leaders Divisions were set up. I’m curious to hear what Hollis has to say about it Wednesday. But Michigan-Ohio State, Maryland-Rutgers, Indiana-Purdue and MSU-Penn State would seem to be the ideal final week of the regular season for the East Division and Purdue.
– The Big Ten bowl lineup changes in 2014 and the league’s priorities for bowl games are changing, too. Brandon talked about his preference to move his program around and give student-athletes and fans different experiences. Beyond the Rose Bowl, he said, many of the second-tier Big Ten bowls don’t have much more luster than the next. Purdue AD Morgan Burke said there are likely to be a few surprises in the bowl lineup and how teams land in certain bowls will change to avoid repeats. The Holiday Bowl (San Diego) and New York Pinstripes Bowl both appear to be on the docket.
I’ll have a column on the familiar and acknowledged silence on expansion for Wednesday’s Lansing State Journal. Colleague Mark Snyder will have a piece on scheduling and bowl issues, also at LSJ.com.
It’s almost always the lie more than the deed, that gets one in trouble. Coaches and politicians especially.
Ask Jim Tressel. Or Bill Clinton.
Rutgers University and new basketball coach Eddie Jordan are making this point again, though some of us judging this from afar see it otherwise.
Jordan played at Rutgers until 1977 and his bios and statements have reflected that he’s a proud alum or graduate. And, the university pointed out in a release, in the Rutgers Hall of Distinguished Alumni since 2004. Being an alumnus doesn’t mean you’re a graduate, but Rutgers and Jordan weren’t making that distinction.
He never actually received a degree.
Many in the media world have made that the issue. It shouldn’t be. A degree doesn’t make the man or woman, coach or teacher. But misleading folks into thinking you’ve obtained something you haven’t does speak to character. The lie, like with most scandals, is again the problem.
We overvalue that piece of paper when forming our opinions about people. Jordan is no more or less a coach if he’d taken a few more classes (or, as he says, registered correctly when he returned in 1985).
I know several outstanding journalists hired away full-time before degree completion. And I know several nitwit reporters (and went to college with a bevy of wannabe reporters) who have degrees and don’t belong in the business. Likewise with other professions. Getting a degree, in most fields, is mainly about sticktoitiveness and money.
What’s important is that Jordan can teach the game and teach life to young men. Eight 15-week semesters doesn’t determine that.
I’d rather have a dynamic, well-read professor who reaches me, than someone well-degreed who isn’t those things.
A degree and an education aren’t one in the same.
But Jordan and Rutgers were afraid to say this. Now they’re spinning it, along with saying he did complete his school hours in 1985, but didn’t register correctly.
Whether that’s true or not, Jordan should realize, matters less than that he continued to mislead about it.
From a Rutgers statement after the degree folly came out …
“His athletic skills and leadership and his professional accomplishments have been a source of pride for Rutgers for more than three decades.”
Michigan State and Tom Izzo are feeling a bit how Kentucky must every year in these times — unsure of half of its roster a year down the line. The only difference, Kentucky somehow knows its going to land most of its desired recruiting haul.
Embedded at the bottom of this blog post are YouTube highlight videos of Ulis, Jones, Alexander and Okafor, in that order.
Ulis is the latest to receive an MSU scholarship offer. You’ll love his highlights if you love watching basketball. After watching his mixtape, I plan on turning the ball over 12 extra times at noon ball today as I attempt that crossover.
I’ve always had a thing for diminutive point guards. They’re fun to watch and often stupidly overlooked by coaches. My favorite college player ever was former Loyola of Chicago point guard David Bailey (who scored 25 against Charlie Bell in December of 2000). Michigan backed off on Bailey and spent several extra years in the NIT, in part, because of it.
For all of Bruce Weber’s high-profile recruiting misses in Chicago, if he’d simply offered former Ohio Bobcat D.J. Cooper a scholarship, Weber’s point-guard-less final teams would have made the NCAA tournament and he’d still be coaching the Illini.
Izzo didn’t fall into this trap here, though from talking to those who cover and coach Ulis — most of whom are very familiar with Bailey and Cooper — what sets Ulis apart is what his high school coach calls the “Joe Namath Syndrome.”
Last week, for example, Ulis took a football and, standing on the opposite baseline, asked if anyone wanted to bet he could make it in the hoop.
“And he picks up the football, flings it the length of the floor and it touched nothing but net,” said Mike Taylor, Ulis’ coach at Marian Catholic in suburban Chicago. “And that’s him in a nutshell.”
I turn to Joe Henricksen, publisher of the City/Suburban Hoops Report for the Sun-Times, often for happenings in the world of Chicago basketball. I didn’t include this quote in the column, but it’s telling about Ulis.
“I’m not big on little guards, but if you’re little you need to be special and that’s what Tyler Ulis is,” Henricksen said. “He’s a special player in that he has that unique ability to make everyone around him better.
“He has a way about him. He raises the level of the players around him and put them in positions to win, succeed, to score, to make themselves better. He’s really become a more efficient perimeter shooter. That’s really elevated his game.”
Of course, MSU offering Ulis a scholarship is interesting, because the Spartans clearly want Minneapolis area point guard Tyus Jones, a consensus top five player in the 2014 class.
Here’s Henricksen on the situation:
“It’s a tricky thing for any high major program and any elite high major program, because you’re going after the elite players, knowing, I wouldn’t call it a backup plan, but you need to have options, because you can fall short. And you know a lot of times, those big-time, top five, top 10 players in the country, they can kind of afford to wait and hold out as Jabari (Parker) did and other guys will do. That’s why I just think, when you do make offers, you’ve got to be sure (the player is) legit. Because if Tyler Ulis pops in June, where does that leave you?Â It is an interesting scenario to look at it.”
Sun-Times prep sports editor Mike O’Brien — a former Columbia College Chicago student newspaper colleague circa 1999-2000 — is another trusted voice in the area.
He senses Okafor is leaning Duke and reaffirmed that Alexander’s favorite is MSU. If Jones and Okafor are a pair, we’ll see if and how that impacts this.
O’Brien believes Alexander’s move away from the AAU team run by Reggie Rose (Derrick Rose’s brother) is big for MSU.
“I think everybody knows he’s been leaning toward Michigan State for a while,” O’Brien said. “â€¦ But I think it’s more likely for that to happen now that he’s playing for the Mac Irvin Fire.”
Landing one of these big guys would make all of Izzo’s recent Chicago recruiting efforts worth it. MSU’s two 2013 MSU recruits, Alvin Ellis and Gavin Schilling, are both from Chicago, but neither comes from this sort of competitive recruiting environment or is the immediate impact player that Alexander or Okafor would be.
If you look at MSU’s roster beyond this season, here are the only relative certainties:
Depending on who develops, there are nice pieces there. Maybe enough to continue the NCAA tournament streak. Not enough to do much more.
Branden Dawson and Gary Harris, if both stay healthy, are likely to be faced with NBA decisions 11 months from now, and Keith Appling and Adreian Payne will be gone.
The spectrum of what MSU might be then is incredibly wide.
“With all the energy and effort put into Jabari, Jahlil and Cliff and now obviously Ulis, you’re talking four guys in a two-year period â€¦ you sure don’t want to go 0 for 4,” Henricksen said of Izzo in Chicago. “But the reason they’re in Illinois, they are the elite guys, they are top-five consensus guys. Not Ulis (ranked No. 69 by Rivals.com), but other three. That’s the type of program Michigan State is.”
Landing a couple would help it stay there.
My gut/educated prediction: Alexander and Ulis wind up as Spartans; Okafor and Jones land elsewhere â€” and I spend the next four years turning the ball over in rec ball because I’m constantly watching a 5-foot-8 waterbug point guard dance on the court.
Here are the highlight videos of the guys MSU is hoping are in uniform about 18 months from now:
The question has been posed on Twitter and discussed among writers who cover Michigan State, after Adreian Payne made his decision to return for his senior season at MSU:
Who would the Spartans be better with next season, Payne or Jabari Parker?
Parker, the nation’s most publicized recruit in the 2013 class (and in several years), chose Duke over MSU in December.
It’s a futile exercise. Payne is staying. Parker isn’t coming. And the two aren’t related, as far as I know.
But it is interesting to think about. Because, in some ways, Payne’s decision to come back was akin to MSU landing a one-and-done caliber recruit and an almost certain NBA first-round draft pick next year.
While having both Payne and Parker for next season would have been ideal, viewing Payne’s return alone as an addition makes MSU’s 2013 class look pretty good. Add Gary Harris to this mix and the players the Spartans have on next season’s roster that they nearly didn’t create a better April than any signing day could produce.
But let’s just compare Payne to Parker and only in terms of impact next season.
Who would you rather have?
I’d take Payne for this MSU roster. Because there is no other NBA-caliber big man on it. Parker, at 6-foot-8 and 225 pounds, is considered more of a wing-4 than a true power forward, similar to Branden Dawson. Even if he’s better than Dawson immediately, the difference between Parker and Dawson isn’t as severe as Payne to the rest of MSU’s bigs.
And Payne has been through Big Ten battles, performed well in the postseason, taken his lumps during his career and emerged a seasoned borderline star. He brings the value of three years of college basketball living and, importantly, hasn’t reached his ceiling. That’s critical here, because choosing Payne over Parker is chancing that Parker isn’t the next Carmelo Anthony.
If I thought Payne would stand still as a player, I’d probably go the other way. But I don’t. This is the first offseason Payne has entered with such an array of skills, the first opportunity he’s had to put it all together, and he knows the NBA is watching.
There may be future recruiting ramifications that favor one or the other, though I tend to think winning helps recruiting most.
Mark Hollis joined me, Jack Ebling and Terry Denbow Tuesday afternoon on The Drive with Jack on 730-AM in Lansing, during our weekly hour-long “At Issue” segment, this time tackling the future of the Big Ten.
For those who prefer the written world (or don’t need sound to let the rest of the office know you’re not exactly on task right now), here are the highlights …
Hollis on playing in the tougher East Division, which also includes Ohio State and Michigan:
“From a recruiting standpoint, you want to create games that fans want to watch and kids want to play in.
From a competitive standpoint, I think it’s just a situation where you’ve got to go out and play the game and some postseason opportunities are going to come along based on the strength of schedule. There are going to be challenges for teams, as we found out, when you go into that championship game and lose. Where are you going to fall in the situation? And in many cases, I think you’re going to find you’re going to find the second- and third-place team in one division may pop up ahead of what you’re finding on the other side.”
Hollis addressing the notion that many fans would have preferred MSU to be in the West Division, away from Michigan and Ohio State:
“I always say, you are who you walk with, or you are who you play against. I very much want to be in a conglomerate of the best of the best. And Michigan and Ohio State have historically been great foes against Michigan State. They will continue to be. I think those are the games you want to see take place in Spartan Stadium. I’m ready to face it head on. But I understand how some could come to that conclusion. But I think as you walk through it and you look at the opportunities Michigan State’s going to have, you ought to get pretty darn excited about what our future is going to look like.”
Hollis on whether the ACC’s recent grant of media rights deal shut down conference shifting and expansion for the foreseeable future:
“I think it’s calmed nationally. I know we as athletic directors are not in a pursuit or inquiry situation at all. We’re in a very comfortable state right now. I think things that change from a national perspective are things that we as a conference and as institutions will continue to monitor, and if there are changes that are out there on the landscape, we’re going to protect our borders, protect our positioning, so that we can ensure that we can continue to be a strong and viable conference made up of great institutions.”
Hollis on the unintended consequences of conference expansion and the transformation ongoing in college athletics:
“When you don’t play the full round-robin, when you don’t play the home-and-home in basketball, the value of the conference championship starts to get diminished. It’s hard to say you’re a champion when you didn’t play this team or you didn’t go to this location. And as you do that, you start to say, OK, what is the goal, what is the achievement that is valued? And that’s going to be the national championship.
“And if you fail or if you fall short of that, you’re going to be a loser. And so many of those teams are not losers. That’s probably one of the bigger things that I’m concerned about relative to the size of these conferences, is there are so many great things that happen on our campuses, so many great achievements within each game, within each season, and those stories get diminished because of the size of the conferences.”
I thought all along Adreian Payne wanted to stay at Michigan State. But I also thought he was leaving.
MSU might have been where he was most comfortable, his teammates and coaches his closest thing to family. But the NBA is the NBA and, ultimately, Payne would follow the chance at life’s other comforts.
He didn’t. Payne announced during a Sunday night press conference, hours before the deadline, that he’ll return to MSU for his senior season. There’s no way the conflict in his mind is completely resolved, but there was no wrong decision here. Not in this case. And that MSU won out over the lure of the NBA says something about the depth of Payne.
From MSU’s perspective, next year’s team just became elite. Maybe elite, elite. Certainly among the preseason national title contenders and an overwhelming favorite in the Big Ten, over a solid second tier that includes Michigan, Iowa, Ohio State and Purdue (probably in that order).
The starting lineup probably looks like this: Costello at center, Payne at the 4, Branden Dawson on the wing, and Gary Harris and Keith Appling in the backcourt.
Beyond Kentucky, there isn’t another college basketball team in the country that’ll have better talent, and none that has the combination of experience and ability.
For a program pushing to be better than very good, as Tom Izzo sees MSU now, this was a major break. Because Payne, for next year’s team, is the difference between very good and potential greatness.
The Spartans will get another year to benefit from his rapidly emerging game, one that’s still discovering how multi-faceted and dominant it can be. While MSU’s younger interior players will be able to grow without as much attention from defenses and Dawson will likely be able to develop his game almost entirely on the wing.
It took a month. Hopefully Payne is at peace with this. MSU certainly feels good about it.
That’s what I was told Wednesday night by Joe Henricksen, publisher of the City/Suburban Hoops Report for the Chicago Sun-Times. Probably never a star, but someone who “knows who he is” and “is still climbing as a player.”
Ellis, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard from De La Salle High School on Chicago’s Near South Side, signed to play for Michigan State Wednesday, joining former high school teammate Gavin Schilling in what’s a two-man incoming class for the Spartans.
Schilling left for Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nev., before his senior year. That’s another thing Henricksen liked about Ellis â€” when Division I talent around him on his once-loaded high school team began to bail, he stayed.
“He stayed true to the place he started,” Henricksen said. “I give him a lot of credit for that.”
Ellis, like Schilling, isn’t considered a monster recruit, like a Jabari Parker or the three Tom Izzo is chasing for 2014 (two from Chicago), Jahlil Okafor, Cliff Alexander or Tyus Jones (Apple Valley, Minn).
Ellis, who averaged 20 points, six rebounds and four assists last winter, originally signed with Minnesota, before the season and before coach Tubby Smith was fired.
Henricksen says he viewed Ellis as a “fringe high-major” prospect through the end of last summer on the AAU circuit.
But he was a different player this past high school season, according to Henricksen.
“His confidence level is up another notch, his perimeter shot is up another level,” Henricksen said. “He had a very productive senior year.
“He’s a high-level athlete, terrific kid. He’s going to work hard. And he doesn’t think things are owed to him.
“He’s still needs to refine some things, tighten up that ball-handling and get even more consistent with that perimeter jumper. But he’s a legit 6-4 and rangy and athletic. I think he’s a piece. When you put together these teams at the college level, he can be a key piece to a high-major program like Michigan State.
“And he doesn’t bring any baggage with him.”
Ellis’ former AAU coach, former University of Michigan and NFL wideout Tai Streets, saw him play just last week and was impressed with how far his shot has developed.
“His shot is so consistent now,” Streets said. ” … I saw him in a pickup game last week. You couldn’t give him any space and he was knocking them down.
“I think he’s going to come in and play, I really do.”
As to why Ellis chose MSU, Spartan fans will like this …
“I hate to say this being a Michigan man, but you don’t get any better than Tom Izzo and that program,” Streets said. “Who wouldn’t like Michigan State?”
My take: I’ve only seen the highlights and heard from a few people who’ve seen Ellis play in Chicago, but if he can hit outside shots right away, he’s got a chance to play. MSU doesn’t have an abundance of shooters, though if Kenny Kaminski and Russell Byrd play contributing roles next season, the need for another shooter may be lessened.
I’ve heard several people mention him along the lines of Brandan Kearney. I sense Ellis is a more polished offensive player.
Below is a highlight video of Alvin Ellis from this past season.
Graham Couch @Graham_Couch Born and bred in Lansing, Graham Couch returned to his hometown in September to be the LSJ's sports columnist. He's covered Michigan State since January, after nearly a decade covering Western Michigan University and the Freeport (Ill.) Pretzels.
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