Michigan State Basketball Recruiting: Biggest Competition for 2014 Targets
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There is more than a simple verbal commitment standing in between Michigan State coach Tom Izzo and his top prospects of 2014.
There is time, distance, family issues, personal needs and one other important thing worth mentioning: Guys such as Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, Kansas' Bill Self and Kentucky's John Calipari.
Other than that, securing the top talent for next year's class should be a breeze for Izzo.
In this slideshow, the issues and obstacles standing in the way of 4- and 5-stars turning into Spartans will be examined and explored.
Who Are the Top Targets?
This is important because, well, this is where the discussion starts. The what, when, where and why can't be discussed without first establishing the "who" in the equation.
So here it goes...
Michigan State's Who's-Who of 2014
The following list is based on information from 247Sports.com, SpartanMag.com and Rivals.com.
The 6'10", 270-pound Chicago Whitney Young Magnet monster is the No. 1 center of 2014 and is ranked No. 6 overall; he carries a 5-star ranking and a composite score of 100.
The 6'9", 240-pound Chicago Curie sensation is the No. 1 power forward of 2014 and is ranked No. 3 overall; he carries a 5-star ranking and composite score of 100.
The 6'2", 180-pound St. Paul Apple Valley (Minn.) floor general is the No. 2 point guard of 2014 and is ranked No. 5 overall; he carries a 5-star ranking and a composite score of 100.
The 6'8", 208-pound Milwaukee Hamilton High version of Kevin Durant is the No. 2 power forward of 2014 and is ranked No. 8 overall; he carries a 5-star ranking and composite score of 100.
The 6'6", 194-pound Moss Point (Miss.) standout is the No. 11 shooting guard of 2014 and is ranked No. 32 overall; he carries a 4-star ranking.
The 5'8", 142-pound Chicago Marian speedster is the No. 12 point guard of 2014 and is ranked No. 52 overall; he carries a 4-star ranking.
The 6'2", 166-pound Louisville Ballard star is the No. 11 point guard of 2014 and is ranked No. 51 overall; he carries a 4-star ranking.
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Duke and Michigan State will continue battling it out for the top players as long Coach K and Izzo are around to have a say in matters. That's how it's been, and that's how it will be. They're living legends and true ambassadors of the game.
Needless to say, it's only natural for the high-end prospects—and every other collegiate hopeful—to want to suit up for the Spartans or Blue Devils, who are both royalty in the world of college hoops.
K earned a last-minute victory in the Jabari Parker Sweepstakes, and in true K fashion, he's in the mix for a few of Izzo's interests.
The following table highlights top targets with offers from Michigan State and Duke. Going one step further, 247Sports' prediction—if it pertains to Izzo or K—will be listed as well. Predictions accurate as of Sept. 9, 2013.
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Bill Self and the Jayhawks are similar to Izzo and the Spartans. They're typically in the middle of a strong tournament run come March, and they're usually a Final Four threat.
That being said, Self also has his eyes on a few players coveted by Izzo.
Cliff Alexander, though, is the top concern. According to his 247Sports profile, he plans to visit Kansas on Oct. 4. Furthermore, his timeline reports a visit to Lawrence on June 21. However, he's also favoring Michigan State and Kentucky, says a RealGM Basketball wiretap post.
Alexander's recruitment has been interesting to follow. He's expressed admiration for Adreian Payne and said he could see himself playing for Izzo, according to MLive.com's Diamond Leung.
Adding to the speculation is Alexander's social media activity. He makes sure he clears up rumors on his visits—he recently had to dismiss one of him being at Illinois' campus—and seems receptive to Spartans fans. He retweeted the following post from one Tod Smith.
One more thing: Alexander is predicted to choose Michigan State by 247Sports' Zach Osterman. But don't rule out the Jayhawks, who won the 2008 national title and claimed runner-up honors in 2012.
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Known as Cal, John Calipari routinely nabs the best of the best. If Kentucky is on a 5-star one-and-doner, there is no reason for other programs to pursue—that player belongs to Cal and only Cal.
But he'd fit so well at Michigan State, and that's where the Izzo vs. Cal comes into play. According to his timeline, Ulis plans to visit Kentucky on Sept. 9. Along with Devin Booker, Ulis visited Michigan State this past weekend.
Because of his size, it's unlikely that Ulis would jump to the Association after just one season in Lexington. Therefore, forecasting him to choose another program, possibly Michigan State, would be logical. He'd be a four-year standout for Izzo, who's known for his work with guards.
Either that, or he'll feed alley-oops to 5-star future NBA players for four years with the Wildcats.
But he's predicted by 247Sports to choose the Spartans.
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Win or lose, appearing in the national title game certainly proves beneficial on the recruiting trail.
Despite an 82-76 loss to Louisville, Michigan is now getting more looks from the 5-star crowd. John Beilein has done a wonderful job with the Wolverines, who attracted top-end players prior to the 2013 Final Four. Now in position to contend for conference titles on a yearly basis, Michigan could be a destination for players such as Devin Booker.
The Cardinals lost out on Quentin Snider but took away Ypsilanti's Jaylen Johnson from Izzo's own backyard. Rick Pitino can recruit, too. According to his 247Sports profile, Cliff Alexander has "warm" interest in Louisville, but he's widely considered as a Michigan State lean.
Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan State Spartans basketball writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81