With the signing of Alvin Ellis, Tom Izzo added a second player to Michigan State’s upcoming 2013 freshmen class. Although Ellis is a solid player, there is still no reason for Spartan fans to go crazy about this class.
Ellis is a 6-4 foot shooting guard from De La Salle in Chicago. He earned a solid three-star rating from Rivals, thanks to his impressive production as a senior, averaging 20 points and 6 rebounds per game. Previously having committed to Minnesota, Ellis changed his mind when then head coach Tubby Smith was fired last month.
Ellis joins fellow three-star commitment, Gavin Schilling. Schilling played at Findlay Prep and is a 6-9 foot power forward. It should be noted that a certain phenom named Jabari Parker, also from Chicago, was a huge target for Izzo in this class. Instead, they landed a slightly lower profile Windy City player.
The duo of signings is very solid for Izzo, but lack the excitement that previous classes had for Michigan State. In fact, this is the first time since 2005, that Izzo has not had a player with at least four stars in a freshmen class, according to Rivals. There are no Gary Harris, Branden Dawson or Adreian Payne type stars coming into East Lansing next season, it would seem. To compound that problem, Michigan State could be losing its three best player, with Harris and Derrick Nix leaving and Payne could potentially be following them out the door.
To compete at a high level in college basketball, when talent leaves, there must be talent to replace it immediately. That is the reality in the one-and-done era; a constant stream of talent is a necessity for a program to stay at the top. Now, Ellis could come into the Michigan State program and surprise some folks. Just two years ago, the Spartans’ in-state rival Michigan signed a three star guard to their team. His name was Trey Burke and he just happened to lead them to the championship game, win the Wooden and AP Player of the Year awards and will be a lottery pick in June. It happens.
Still, so far, Michigan State does not have a clear star coming in. They do still have one scholarship available, possibly two if Payne opts to enter the NBA Draft. So, there is still the possibility that Izzo isn’t done. But if not, Michigan State will need to lean on their returning players and start to really focus on the 2014 class. Top programs can’t afford to lose a step and every recruiting class is crucial to sustaining high-level success. Right now, the incoming class does not look particularly strong for a program with high standards.