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Counting down MSU’s top 50 basketball players all-time: No. 38 – Goran Suton

This is the 13th in a 50-day summer series, counting down the top players in Michigan State basketball history, as I see them. The criteria is impact and performance at MSU only, professional career irrelevant. Have your own opinion? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

No. 38 – Goran Suton
Center, 2005-09, Lansing / Serbia

The skinny: Suton is remembered at MSU mostly for how he finished. And few have finished better. The 6-foot-10 former Lansing Everett star totaled 39 points in the Midwest Regional semis and finals in 2009, and was named the region’s Most Outstanding Player for leading the Spartans past Kansas and top-seeded Louisville, and to the Final Four in Detroit. By that point in his career, Suton was the ideal pick-and-pop big man, a dangerous jump shooter and smooth high-post passer.

Goran Suton is the most recent Spartan to record 20 rebounds in a single game, the first since Kevin Willis in 1983. (LSJ file)

He was also an underrated rebounder, a sure- and strong-handed center later in his career. He’s seventh in rebounding all-time at MSU and led the team three straight seasons, averaging better than eight per game as junior and senior. He and Antonio Smith share the school record for offensive rebounds in a single game, at 11. And Suton is the most recent Spartan to reach 20 rebounds in a game, the first since Kevin Willis did it twice in 1983.

Suton was a second-team All-Big Ten selection in 2008-09, averaging 10.4 points and 8.4 rebounds. He improved his craft throughout his career, most noticeably his outside shooting. He hit 21 of 48 3-pointers as a senior, after making just 2 of 18 during his first three seasons.

Why’s he’s No. 38: Career impact has a lot to do with this list. Without Suton, MSU doesn’t reach the 2009 Final Four, which again raised the program’s stature, began Tom Izzo’s third act at MSU and made the Spartans a feel-good story statewide as they arrived in Detroit for college basketball’s final weekend.

Suton is arguably among the top five centers ever to play in East Lansing. Great guards are everywhere in college basketball — and at MSU. Skilled big men have been far more rare throughout the history of the Spartan program.

Previously …
No. 39: Alan Anderson
No. 40: Branden Dawson
No. 41: Bill Kilgore
No. 42: Pete Gent
No. 43: Al Ferrari
No. 44: Ken Redfield
No. 45: Chris Hill
No. 46: Raymar Morgan
No. 47: Kevin Smith
No. 48: Kevin Willis
No. 49: Matt Steigenga
No. 50: Marcus Taylor

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5 Responses to Counting down MSU’s top 50 basketball players all-time: No. 38 – Goran Suton

  1. avatar Spartan 81 says:

    And it silenced all those critics who said Izzo could not develop bigs

  2. avatar Ernie Boone says:

    I’ve always viewed assessing athletes across eras as a fun-filled waste of time. No doubt, today’s athletes, taken as a whole, are bigger and stronger, run faster, jump higher, and have access to better training and technology than the athletes of earlier eras. Picking MSU’s top 50 players using impact on the program and performance during their MSU careers as the criteria is difficult, but having followed MSU basketball for 60 years, this series has forced me to take my shot. Marcus Taylor as the last man in the club is reasonable. That assumes, however, that names like Roger Groves, Jack Quiggle, Chet Aubuchon, and Bob Anderegg, were not left off.

  3. avatar Bring the Payne (back) says:

    Suton was always one of my favorites, I was hoping we’d see him on this list. Good job!

  4. avatar Frydorov says:

    Being that Suton was my doppelganger, I always had an affinity for him on the MSU teams of the late 2000′s. Before his senior year, I thought he had an A.J. Granger-type career. But his senior year, he was an excellent weapon that complimented that team. I thought he had a rare thing for a college big man; post moves. Outside of Zach Randolph & Paul Davis, I thought Suton had the best post moves of any Izzo-era big man.

  5. avatar Jeff says:

    People always forget about Suton, including myself. He has to be my favorite Spartan when I think about it. He was so much fun to watch and played his heart out, and was smart on the court too. Of course his shots against Louisville will always stick out in my mind from the 09 season, that and “The Big Ten player of the year, spinning in traffic. Count it and the foul!” Goran was a great player and man. He improved more than any player I remember, from missed layups as a freshy in Maui against Gonzaga to losing weight his last few years, he was an ideal Spartan team player.

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