Michigan State Basketball: Sales Pitch for Each Top 2014 Recruiting Target

Adam BiggersSenior Analyst IIJune 30, 2013

Michigan State Basketball: Sales Pitch for Each Top 2014 Recruiting Target

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    Tom Izzo doesn't have to say much when giving the come to Michigan State-talk. 

    The Spartans are a well-known entity in the world of college basketball. Prospects know about their success. They are familiar with Izzo's track record. 

    In short, if they want to charge toward March every year while directed by one of the game's icons, picking Michigan State isn't a bad choice to make. 

    High-end targets like Tyus Jones have their pick of the litter. Jahlil Okafor and Cliff Alexander aren't short on offers, either. 

    They've seen it all, presumably, during the recruiting gauntlet. Going to a successful program isn't the question—it's likely one of best fit academically and personally for those 5-star gems. 

    Landing one of them is Izzo's biggest challenge.

Cliff Alexander

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    Tom Izzo can get Cliff Alexander as one piece, not part of a three-way unit with Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor. 

    That should provide relief for college coaches everywhere, not just Izzo. It doesn't sound like programs such as Kentucky and Duke will get the trio to themselves. 

    With that out of the way, the pitch to Alexander has probably been more personal and less business-like. 

    The Spartans have flourished with power forwards like Draymond Green and Adreian Payne. Alexander could be next in line. It certainly sounds like that intrigues him. 

    “I can picture myself playing there," Alexander told the Lansing State Journal's Graham Couch. "I can see myself playing as Adreian Payne.” In the same interview, Alexander said that he loves Izzo and the way he runs his offense. 

    Alexander, a 6'9", 240-pound 5-star out of Chicago Curie, has a physical game comparable to Derrick Nix's with a touch of finesse around the rim, something that Payne has developed. Alexander's style of play fits well with Michigan State. Izzo has probably mentioned that at least once. 

    Izzo has to hit a home run with his 2014 class. The 2013 class wasn't what most anticipated. Although strong, it's devoid of a true star.

    The Spartans have done well in recent years, securing 5-stars like Branden Dawson, Gary Harris and Payne. Their time at Michigan State has been positive, and that could influence Alexander.

    Harris is a sure first-rounder come the 2014 NBA draft. Dawson could be a second-round pick. If he improves his jumper, he could go late in the first round. Payne should be a top 20 pick at the very least. 

    If Alexander has designs of going pro, Izzo could help him get there. Alexander oozes potential. A year or two under Izzo may be the best thing for his basketball career. 

    Click here for a page full of Alexander dunks. He's not as agile as Payne, but he moves a little better than Nix. Izzo could develop him into a solid inside-outside threat. 

Tyus Jones

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    Tyus Jones is the type of point guard that Michigan State needs. 

    The 6'1", 170-pound, 5-star prospect is a potential one-and-doner, just like Cliff Alexander and Jahlil Okafor. Each of them are potential first-round picks come the 2015 draft.

    Jones wants to play with Okafor in college, and that's where things get tricky. 

    A Jones-Okafor package would be ideal for Michigan State. They would both fit needs, and Izzo would likely give them plenty of opportunities to propel themselves up draft boards. Like Okafor, Jones holds offers from Kansas, Kentucky and Duke, three prime-time launching pads. 

    Izzo has likely told Jones about the success of point guards at Michigan State. Kalin Lucas was Big Ten Player of the Year as a sophomore. Drew Neitzel cemented himself in Spartans history with a great career. Mateen Cleaves was the point guard's point guard. 

    Jones has the talent to surpass each of them. Neither Lucas, Cleaves or Neitzel had the one-and-done hype. The Spartans could get a guard for the ages should Jones commit. Izzo could sell Jones on the idea of being a first and setting a new standard for Spartans 1-guards.

    It's not often that a coach interrupts an NCAA tournament run. However, Izzo did so just to visit Jones, who led Apple Valley to a Minnesota 4A state championship.

Jahlil Okafor

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    According to 247Sports.com, Jahlil Okafor is the No. 1-ranked center of the 2014 class. 

    Michigan State basketball is predicated on efficient ball movement through a strong point man, but it's also evolved into a team that can exploit the opposition's weakness with a powerful big. 

    Okafor could immediately become Michigan State's No. 1 option; he can do everything a vintage big man can do, such as rebound, block and rule the rim.

    But he also has athleticism comparable to Anthony Davis and Nerlens Noel, two incredibly agile centers who played for a year at Kentucky before entering the NBA draft.  

    Davis and Noel each brought a level of excitement to their position. However, Kentucky isn't the only destination. Izzo has to sell Okafor on that idea. It's likely that Kentucky cocah John Calipari has made Okafor aware of his past centers' success.

    Michigan State has looked toward Adreian Payne to be similar to Davis and Noel, and that'll be Okafor's job if he chooses the Spartans.

    Cliff Alexander wants to play like Payne. Okafor is closer, as evidenced by the accompanying highlight reel. 

    If Izzo has a must-have, it's certainly Okafor, the prize of 2014. If it's only for a year, the Spartans would greatly benefit from Okafor. Getting him would heighten national title expectations. 

    The 6'10" prep senior recently whittled his list down to eight schools. He has 22 offers, according to 247Sports, but he likes Michigan State, which will always be an option.


    Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan State Spartans basketball writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81