Update: Apparently, Montaque Gill-Caesar is staying another year at Huntington Prep. However, that doesn't negate the fact that Michigan State needs his services.
Tom Izzo’s cart is just about full, but there’s room for one more addition to Michigan State’s 2014 class—especially if that addition is Montaque Gill-Caesar.
At 6’5” and 200 pounds, the 5-star (per 247Sports) shooting guard possesses a well-rounded skill set that should fit perfectly into the Spartans’ rotation, which, in all likelihood, will be without Gary Harris and Branden Dawson next season.
Harris, a 6’4” sophomore shooting guard, could have entered the 2013 NBA draft. Dawson, a 6’6” junior wing, would benefit from another year in East Lansing, Mich.
Their decisions, which are on the horizon, will most likely impact Tom Izzo’s decision on whether or not to further pursue Gill-Caesar, a 2015 Huntington Prep (W. Va.) superstar who still has the option to reclassify to 2014 (see above update, but remember that things can change at a moment's notice).
Without Dawson, Izzo would have a void that, really, only Dawson could fill. Late in the season, he emerged as a legitimate star. Not one in training—a real, here-today phenom. However, as mentioned, he could be gone tomorrow.
As for Harris, he’s not so easy to replace. Arguably one of the finest scorers in Michigan State history, Harris’ past two seasons with the Spartans have been extraordinary.
Excluding a Final Four-bid, his career couldn’t have been much better. In 2012-13, he won Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors; and if not for injury and a skid during the regular season, he would have been a finalist for conference POTY props this year.
So yeah, Izzo could lose a substantial amount of production if Harris and Dawson bounce. Harris averaged 16.6 points per game, while Dawson ravaged through the Big Ten tourney with a clip of 17 points and seven boards per outing.
Not to mention all of the great defense and dunking. Lots of dunking.
Gill-Caesar isn’t a one-stop, fix-all. But he could certainly be part of the solution and help ease the pains of transition.
Securing the gifted scorer and budding defender would be a monumental win for Izzo, who watched prospects such as Chicago’s Jabari Parker (Duke) and Cliff Alexander (Kansas) commit elsewhere.
Plus there was the miss on Bloomfield Hills big man Yante Maten, a 6’8” forward who’s set to join Georgia—yes, Georgia!—instead of staying close to home in Big Ten Country.
Point guard Lourawls "Tum-Tum" Nairn enters with a bit of promise. Marvin Clark and Javon Bess, the other 2014ers, are solid Izzo-endorsed recruits who should boost the frontcourt within a couple of years.
Waiting that long is the tricky part, though. Considering the potential vacancies, getting Gill-Caesar in 2014 is probably Izzo's best chance at getting him at all.
|Michigan State's 2014 class|
|Tum-Tum Nairn||5'11"/165||PG/No. 22/4-star|
|Javon Bess||6'5"/185||SF/No. 47/3-star|
|Marvin Clark||6'7"/225||PF/No. 65/3-star|
|Montaque Gill-Caesar (?)||6'5"/200||SG/No. 3/5-star|
Gill-Caesar is clearly at another level—he’s the type of player that rarely escapes the grips of the elite of the elite, such as Kansas, Duke, Kentucky and Florida. Nonetheless, Izzo remains in the race for the coveted prep.
Izzo hasn't exactly set the trails on fire of late, but the 19-year head coach consistently floors championship-caliber groups like clockwork. About every four years, to be exact. Although they missed out on the Final Four, this year's Spartans were among the best Izzo's ever had at one time.
Take that into account, and then think of the departures of Keith Appling, a point guard, and Adreian Payne, a power forward. Without Gill-Caesar, Michigan State's lineup would be absent of "star" power for the first time since...well, maybe ever since Izzo's been the coach.
That's not meant to take anything away from Travis Trice, Denzel Valentine, Matt Costello or Gavin Schilling, but let's be honest here—not seeing a Draymond Green, Kalin Lucas, Drew Neitzel, Shannon Brown or Moe Ager on the list is a bit frightening.
With development, Nairn could be the next great point guard in East Lansing. And who knows? Maybe Bess and Clark will give Izzo another 2005-like frontcourt.
However, he could end all the guessing if he signs Gill-Caesar, a potential one-year rental who would be worth his weight in gold to the Spartans.
Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan State Spartans basketball writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81