Michigan State Basketball: Ranking the 5 Most Hyped Recruits in Spartans History
Ranking recruits is a relatively newer practice in college sports, not having taken off to its height within the past 30 years or so—and it's rapidly growing each and every year with the advent of new sources.
That being said, gauging the "most hyped" prospects in Michigan State Spartans basketball history is somewhat of a challenge. Sure, past greats from the 1950s and 1960s were surrounded by a media buzz, but the media of the past few decades continues to cast more and more attention on the recruits than ever before.
One doesn't have to go all that far back in time to remember the recruitment of memorable Spartans players. A good portion of the high-end prospects lived up to expectations. Some, though, simply did not.
Nonetheless, this slideshow will highlight the five who had the most anticipated and celebrated arrivals to the Spartans basketball program.
5. Mike Robinson
To include former Detroit Northeastern standout Mike Robinson on this list is to straddle a fine line.
First of all, Robinson wasn't exactly "hyped" prior to arriving in East Lansing. In fact, his high school coach, Robert Smith, didn't feel Robinson was worthy of playing in the Big Ten (via MSUSpartans.com).
But Robinson shocked the Spartans, becoming a leader as a sophomore despite not being able to play at the varsity level as a freshman in 1970-71 (because the NCAA didn't allow frosh participation at the time).
The Tom Izzo era has been tops in Spartans history. Jud Heathcote and Gus Ganakas had success, too.
Needless to say, each of them have extended offers to some of the most memorable high school players to date. Izzo almost landed Chicago Simeon star Jabari Parker (2013) after delivering Proviso East sensation Shannon Brown in 2003.
Parker deserves mention because of his 5-star grade. Had he joined Michigan State, he would have been called one of Izzo's best signings—and that's incredible, considering the amount of talent that Izzo has driven to Michigan State.
Heathcote secured Redford Bishop Borges legend Shawn Respert in 1990. Respert isn't only one of the Big Ten's greatest, but he had a large role in rekindling Spartans basketball, along with guys like Steve Smith and Scott Skiles.
4. Marcus Taylor
When it came to Lansing-bred prep basketball phenoms, there were perhaps none better than Lansing Waverly's Marcus Taylor—with the exception of one, of course.
The 6'3" guard was fresh off winning the 2000 Mr. Basketball award—and by a monumental landslide, mind you—prior to joining Tom Izzo's program, which won the 2000 national title before going to its third straight Final Four in 2001.
Taylor averaged 16.8 points and 5.3 assists in his sophomore season, becoming just the second Big Ten player to lead the league in both categories in the same year.
Taylor spent two years with the Spartans and was on his way to becoming a collegiate superstar. With the Wizard of Waverly, Michigan State had more than a shot at winning another title during Taylor's term.
He sat tight with Izzo for just two seasons, forgoing his junior and senior campaigns to enter the 2002 NBA draft. He was taken by the Minnesota Timberwolves but never materialized into a steady pro.
However, for just under 60 games, Spartans followers saw one of the elite-of-the-elite to ever call Lansing his high school stomping ground.
3. Kelvin Torbert
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Flint Northwestern had another one on its hands—just one of many greats—when Kelvin Torbert was the king of the Wildcats.
Torbert won the Mr. Basketball honor in 2001 and was named Gatorade's national player of the year.
Simply put, Michigan State had a player entering the fold who had limitless potential. At the time of his recruitment, Torbert was considered one of the nation's best prep prospects in some time—not just of his class or area.
Torbert was supposed to be a link between the 2000 Flintstones and future titles. In 2000, the Spartans landed Mr. Basketball Marcus Taylor from Lansing Waverly, also a celebrated All-American. Torbert was 1A, and Taylor was 1B.
Torbert's college career didn't go as planned, and like Taylor, he played overseas instead of in the NBA.
2. The Flintstones
Flint Northern legend Antonio Smith was the first Flint-area player that Tom Izzo brought in prior to forming one of college basketball's all-time elite group of talent: The Flintstones.
Northwestern star Morris "MoPete" Peterson followed, then it was Northern's Mateen Cleaves. Southwestern's Charlie Bell couldn't resist, either.
And there it was, an ensemble of gritty court sensations with an attitude forged by ruling some of the most competitive prep basketball scenes in the country.
It was perfect for Izzo, who never forgets to credit the team that made him a household name among college coaches due to the incredible muscle flexed by the Flintstones from the mid-to-late 1990s. They won it all in 2000 and continue to reap the benefits of legendary Spartans status.
Smith was the most celebrated, but the arrival of Peterson, Cleaves and Bell created raucous fanfare.
Even as a star at Lansing Everett, he went by one name: "Magic".
Earvin "Magic" Johnson was a celebrity before he signed with Jud Heathcote's Spartans. Magic helped lead Lansing Everett to a state title in 1977 and couldn't go anywhere in the Lansing area without being immediately recognized.
Besides being one of the greatest NBA players ever, Magic can lay claim to being among the top prep and collegiate stars, too.
His arrival to East Lansing captured the entire state. He was a key player in the Spartans' 1979 championship scamper and remains a hero to droves of local youths. Magic is a staple of the sport in Michigan and evolved into a symbol of the game as a whole.
There may never be another recruit who creates more of a media firestorm like Magic did in 1977.
Read about Detroit Mercy's push for Magic led by the one and only Dick Vitale here. College coaches simply couldn't sleep at night while recruiting Magic—he was that special.
Follow Michigan State Spartans basketball writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81