Michigan State Basketball: 5 Questions About Spartans' 2014 Recruiting Plans
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
In the beginning, Tom Izzo seemed to be set on three players for 2014: Cliff Alexander, Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor.
However, as the weeks roll by, it's evident that the Michigan State coach is willing to look outside of that trio in order to reel in quality athletes for his upcoming recruiting class.
Getting Alexander, Jones and Okafor, obviously, would be the best-case scenario. But there are others worthy of consideration, and Izzo, who has been to six Final Fours, continues courting them to ensure the integrity of the 2014 haul.
This slideshow will examine the remaining targets and address questions surrounding their recruitments.
Note: information on recruits comes via SpartanMag, 247Sports and Rivals.com.
Who Will Be the Gem of 2014?
Visual representations can help tell a story.
And the "interest" graphics on Michigan State's 2014 targets page certainly do that.
Cliff Alexander's interest is listed as "warmer," according to the page. However if the graphics are truly accurate, Tyus Jones, one of the top point guards of 2014, has "cooler" feelings toward the Spartans.
Good news on Alexander, not so good news about Jones. The Spartans need a point man to take over for Keith Appling, a senior who took over the reins from Kalin Lucas.
As one of the top three options, Alexander could very well be the crown jewel of the Spartans' 2014 class. Jahlil Okafor's interest is listed as "warm," but if Jones is cool on Michigan State, it's likely that he could be too. They want to play together.
Actually, at one point, they all wanted to play together. In June, Alexander told NBC College Basketball Talk's Terrance Payne that it "didn't matter" where Okafor and Jones chose to play; his decision was his decision.
Alexander, a 6'9", 240-pound power forward from Chicago Curie, isn't out of the picture yet. He appears to be the grand prize for Izzo.
Who Are the New Guys?
By now, Okafor, Alexander and Jones are familiar names.
At 6'1" and 166 pounds, Snider has become more of a priority for the Spartans. He's the No. 51-ranked player of 2014, per 247Sports, but he's predicted to commit to Indiana.
Travis, a 6'7", 228-pound power forward, commands a 4-star ranking and has "warm" interest in Izzo's program.
Now here's another unfamiliar name: Jaylen Johnson, who was just recently offered by Izzo.
The 6'9", 206-pounder out of Ypsilanti has an offer from defending national champion Louisville and is Izzo's only in-state offer, according to Paul Konyndyk of SpartanMag.com (subscription required to view).
What to Do About SG?
It's not like most don't expect Gary Harris to leave after this season, but 2014 target James Blackmon may have accidentally spilled the beans during a recent interview.
“[Coach Tom Izzo] just said that Gary Harris probably will be leaving so I’ll have to come in and probably fill that spot right off and I’ll get a chance to showcase my skills,” Blackmon said, per ZagsBlog.com.
Blackmon recently de-committed from Indiana and plans to visit Louisville, Kentucky and Michigan, according to the interview. He's 6'4", 180 pounds and can shoot out the lights.
If not Blackmon, Devin Booker would be an adequate replacement for Harris. In fact, he'd almost be ideal. Harris is a once-a-decade player. At 6'6" and 194 pounds, Booker has the frame of an elite scorer. He carries a 4-star rating from 247Sports.
Darrell Davis, a 6'4", 170-pound marksman from Detroit, could be another option at shooting guard. The 3-star prospect has "warmer" interest in Michigan State.
So, It's Now Tyler Ulis at PG?
Everyone recruited Tyus Jones.
That being said, Izzo, in theory, has as good a chance as any to get him. But due to his pursuit of Tyler Ulis, it's logical to assume that Jones is no longer the guy to run point.
At 5'8" and 142 pounds, Ulis lacks the prototypical size of a Big Ten point guard. If he had the size, he'd have a 5-star rating instead of 4-star ranking. He's a 5-star in a mini package and one of the most slept-on recruits in recent memory.
Besides, he already plays for the Spartans. He just has to switch the Michigan-like colors of Chicago Marian for the green and white of Michigan State.
What's the Deal with Kevon Looney?
At 6'9" and 208 pounds, Looney is the long, sleek and elusive highlight scorer that would make Michigan State one of the most dangerous teams in the country. Not that the Spartans aren't already elite and feared, but adding Looney—or a Durant-like skill set in this case—bodes well for any team.
Looney recently said that he a strong bond with the Spartans, per MLive.com's Diamond Leung. However, he has "cool" interest in Michigan State, according to his 247Sports profile. He dropped Michigan from his list, so it's possible that he doesn't want to attend college in the Great Lakes State.
With three available scholarships, the 2014 class has several options with limited spacing. In reality, there are at least five or six players who would be excellent fits at Michigan State. With Looney being one of them, the Spartans stand to have a strong haul if they land Ulis and Alexander, or combinations of the remaining targets.
Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan State Spartans basketball writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81