Michigan State Basketball: 5 Bold Predictions for Spartans' Incoming Freshmen
The Michigan State Spartans add just two newcomers to their 2013-14 roster, but that doesn't mean that the incoming freshmen are to be discarded.
Chicago De La Salle's Alvin Ellis, a 3-star-rated guard, should add depth to a backcourt that already has Travis Trice, Denzel Valentine, Gary Harris and Keith Appling leading the way.
At 6'4" and 185 pounds, Ellis also adds size to Tom Izzo's lineup. Ellis is ranked as the No. 290 player and No. 72 shooting guard of 2014 (according to 247Sports.com) and originally committed to Minnesota before signing with the Spartans in April.
Gavin Schilling is a 3-star-rated, 6'9", 240-pound power forward (No. 31 PF, according to 247Sports) who could end up being an unsung hero for the Spartans' frontcourt this season. He's similar in size to Matt Costello and Alex Gauna (both about 6'9" and 250 pounds) but slightly more athletic.
Schilling's game is developing, obviously, but he could evolve into a Goran Suton-type. That would be the best-case scenario for Michigan State. Suton could shoot the mid-range ball with great efficiency and physically set the tone when asked to do so.
If he contributes in the way that he's capable, the Spartans will have a sure option in the paint and on the boards in Schilling, who may just throw up a few points each night too.
This slideshow will predict just what Schilling and Ellis could do as first-year players for Izzo, who is known for getting the most out of his athletes, regardless of star ratings.
Schilling Will Average 10 Minutes Per Game
Unless you're a sure thing like Gary Harris, most freshmen don't see a ton of playing time. Tom Izzo usually eases in first-year players, but Gavin Schilling could see 10 minutes per game this season if he's consistent (obviously).
Now, when looking at the main contributors of Michigan State's frontcourt, it's easy to forecast a little extra floor time for Schilling. Michigan State lost Derrick Nix to graduation, leaving senior Adreian Payne as the sole proprietor of the paint.
Payne will probably be a national player of the year candidate, but he'll need help. Alex Gauna and Matt Costello averaged about six minutes per game this past season; they too, should see an increase. Nix punched the clock for about 28 minutes each game, so that half hour of time will have to be dispersed accordingly by Izzo, who has redshirt sophomore Kenny Kaminski returning from a shoulder injury this fall.
If Izzo chooses to go "big," Schilling's number could frequently be called. However, due to his athleticism, Schilling could tandem with Branden Dawson, rounding out a should-be 1-2 punch at forward.
Ellis Will Have at Least Three Double-Digit Scoring Games
At 6'4" and 185 pounds, Alvin Ellis has the frame to score a lot of points.
Michigan State isn't exactly hurting at guard, so forecasting the amount of time that Ellis could play is a bit more difficult than doing the same for Schilling (previous slide).
However, if Tom Izzo needs to inject new life into the backcourt, Ellis may very well be the answer. If given the chance (judging by his highlight reel provided above), Ellis could pile on a few 10-point-plus contributions as a freshman.
The former Chicago De La Salle star could be the new left-handed sheriff in town now that Nix has completed his tenure in East Lansing.
Ellis' stature allows him to be used like Branden Dawson, who plays shooting guard and small forward.
Alvin Ellis Will Back Up His Words
Alvin Ellis wants to aid the Spartans' quest for a 2014 national title.
Of course he does; why else would he be playing college ball? These guys want to win, and win big.
According to MLive.com's Diamond Leung, Ellis, who averaged 20 points per game as a senior, spoke highly of coach Tom Izzo during a recent interview with Spartan Nation Radio (Hondo Carpenter); he also said that he'll do his best to contribute to the glory many feel Michigan State is capable of attaining this season.
Ellis said the following during his radio interview (according to Leung):
Izzo was going to be that guy to push me to try to get to the next level
I know Tom Izzo is going to be a Hall of Fame coach. I know they make it to the tournament every year. They play for national championships every year, and I want to be a part of that. I want to try to win one of these national championships
If the Spartans do reach the Final Four or better in 2014—and Ellis is a steady force—Izzo's interest in the former Minnesota commit will pay dividends.
Schilling Will Bring Euro Flair to MSU, Great Grades
As mentioned in a previous slide, Schilling's game is reminiscent of former Spartans star Goran Suton, a product of European courts before attending Lansing Everett (home of Magic Johnson).
Schilling, who posted a 3.7 GPA at Findlay Prep, has also competed at a high level across the pond, and his style could add a little something different to the fold than most Spartans fans are used to seeing.
A big man with hands, silky moves and great touch, Schilling's skill set may be enough to intrigue the minds of Michigan State fans.
In the past, hard-nosed, playground styles have ruled the Breslin Center. Look at Draymond Green, a gritty Saginaw native. Although Green added stylish dimensions to his arsenal before moving onto the NBA, he most definitely possessed a playground-like skill set.
That's the only way to be successful on the mean courts of the city—no pretty boys allowed.
Schilling may not be as physically gritty, but Spartans fans could fall in love with his Euro basketball roots.
Adreian Payne was an All-Academic teamer this past year, but Schilling may challenge for top marks when it comes to grades. A smart athlete is usually a productive athlete.
Check out Schilling's web site to learn more about his past.
Schilling and Ellis Will Get Share of Attention
It's unfair to gauge two freshmen to Michigan State's existing players, but that's just how it goes.
As freshmen, Branden Dawson and Gary Harris were the exceptions—they were both 5-star recruits who had Spartans fans running amok with excitement. Even the seniors were up in arms over the new guys.
Though a talented pair, Ellis and Schilling won't overshadow former freshman star Harris—not many players in the country will do that, actually.
However, Ellis and Schilling are both great under-the-radar players who will get their share of attention this season.
They won't be superstars as soon as they hit the floor, obviously. But they'll be two players whom Spartans fans will enjoy tracking.
Because of the fact that they're the only two newcomers, Schilling and Ellis could benefit, causing fans to have a little more interest in them. When a team has three, four or five guys entering the mix, it's easier to focus on just one or two, leaving the others on the back burner.
Spartans fans are a dedicated species. They want to know everything about the guys on the court. That being said, look for a buzz on Twitter and Facebook surrounding the two newest Spartans.
Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan State Spartans basketball writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81