Michigan State Basketball: Predicting Spartans' Biggest Overachievers for 2014
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This has been said several times before: Tom Izzo gets the most out of his players.
The Michigan State Spartans basketball coach always seems to have the guy who plays like he's supposed to, but there also seems to be one each year who plays better than expected.
A guard who is primed for a big year. Maybe even a newcomer who could turn heads.
And that's why we're here right now, to discuss which Spartans hooper could surprise not only the fans, but also Izzo during this upcoming season.
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As a freshman in 2011-12, Travis Trice proved to be serviceable, averaging 4.5 points and about 17 minutes per game.
If not for a season riddled with concussion-like symptoms, Trice could have averaged closer to eight or 10 points per outing as a sophomore in 2012-13.
Defensively, Trice is Michigan State's version of Ohio State's Aaron Craft, a stealthy hustler with no off switch.
Although Michigan State was knocked out of the NCAA Tournament by Duke in the Sweet 16, Trice closed out the season with eight points on 3-of-3 shooting.
Trice adds so much energy and grit to the Spartans' defense; it's only a matter of time before he blooms into the steady player that he's capable of being—and that time could be this year.
Meet Gavin Schilling
Gavin Schilling (No. 4 in white) delivers a clutch shot in 16U European competition.
Gavin Schilling enters Michigan State this fall as Tom Izzo's only recruited signee of the 2013 class. Alvin Ellis is his classmate, but wasn't initially recruited by Izzo.
That being said, it's easy to expect a little something more than OK from Schilling, a 3-star 6'9", 240-pound power forward.
With a touch of Euro-style scoring, Schilling could be more than a four or five-minute guy; he could see early playing time due to Derrick Nix's departure. Schilling could step in and play 10 or more minutes each night, giving the Spartans a steady bench presence—something that was amiss for most of 2012-13.
He'll have to earn his shot, but this year is as good as any for Schilling to make an impact.
Contributions from Alvin Ellis Would Be a Plus
With a healthy stable of existing guards to play behind, Alvin Ellis has it made as a freshman.
The 3-star 6'4", 185-pound shooting guard will have the opportunity to learn from senior Keith Appling, junior Travis Trice, and sophomores Denzel Valentine and Gary Harris—an ideal setup for the Big Ten newcomer.
If Ellis can give 10 quality minutes each game and contribute offensively with eight or so points, he'll be a valuable complementing asset to the guard corps. He has double-digit tendencies, so watch out for the freshman in 2013-14.
Russell Byrd in 'Nowhere to Go from Here but Up'
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At this point, getting anything from Russell Byrd would be a plus—if he strings together a respectable season, he'll definitely qualify as an overachiever.
But there's a catch: He was supposed to be a scoring threat; that's why Tom Izzo recruited him. Injuries and, quite possibly, miles of mental hurdles, have hampered Byrd's career.
Five points a night?
Something is better than nothing. Byrd has the stroke. He has the talent. Now he has to find the bottom of the net.
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As a prepster at Bay City Western, Matt Costello was a man among boys.
He looked so out of his element that spectators wouldn't have been wrong to feel sorry for the opposition. At 6'9" and 245 pounds, Costello has always been one of the bigger guys on the court. During the NCAA Tournament, the freshman started to flex his muscle.
As mentioned in a previous slide, Derrick Nix's departure will open doors for players vying for frontcourt minutes. If Costello rebounds, defends and attacks the rim like he did during the tournament, Tom Izzo won't have to worry about his team getting pushed around in the paint.
Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan State Spartans basketball writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81.