Michigan State Basketball Recruiting: Meet Spartans' 2014 Class
There was a slight chance of adding Montaque Gill-Caesar to the 2014 class.
But that whole thing came to an end late this past week, as the 5-star shooting guard out of Huntington Prep (W. Va.) announced his intentions to remain in the 2015 class.
The 6'5," 200-pound junior isn't getting any younger. It's a wonder why the 18-year, three-month-old didn't jump at the chance to join the Spartans this year. In all likelihood, there's an opening at the 2, as sophomore Gary Harris is expected to declare for the NBA Draft.
Athletic enough to play the wing, Gill-Caesar, the No. 3-ranked SG of 2015, would fit snugly into Dawson's former role. He's not quite as powerful, but he's just as nimble and can fill buckets with dunks and snaps of the wrist.
But enough of that. Gill-Caesar isn't a part of this year's class.
But Lourawls "Tum-Tum" Nairn, Marvin Clark and Javon Bess are. Despite the absence of a 5-star, Izzo's next class remains well-rounded and projects to contribute for the next four years.
Nairn is a next-gen Izzo point guard. Clark could fill out and become a valuable frontcourt presence. There are hints of Durrell Summers in Bess' game.
It's not an over-the-top, he-got-a-Jabari-haul, but the 2014 class is a respectable acquisition for Izzo, who enters his 20th season as head coach in East Lansing.
Tum-Tum's the 1 (No. 23 PG)
A superbly talented floor general, Nairn epitomizes the type of point guard that Izzo loves.
Rated as a 4-star prospect by 247Sports, the former Sunrise Christian (Wichita, Ks.) star jumps out as the "best" newcomer. That's probably true, to an extent. However, don't look past Clark, his former teammate, and Bess, who can play the 2 and 3.
Nairn, or Tum-Tum if you prefer, is more than fast. He's a blur and appears to be a step or two quicker than Keith Appling, who just completed a great four-year career in East Lansing.
Kalin Lucas, who left in 2011, was a speedster. Mateen Cleaves was fast. Even Drew Neitzel was quick. Point guards do more than secure the ball; they push tempo and take advantage of holes in the defense. At various levels, past Izzo 1-guards have executed that practice to perfection.
Lucas was a dangerous scorer who could catch-and-shoot, drive and create opportunities by absorbing heavy contact. Appling did that. Neitzel never shied away from taking a hit.
And Cleaves, well, Cleaves set the tone back in 2000.
It may be a bit unfair to expect immediate greatness from Nairn. But with position comes responsibility, and as Izzo's trusted extension on the court, Tum-Tum has quite the undertaking ahead of him.
Easing into the role is best, but it certainly wouldn't hurt Michigan State if Nairn shot out of the gate in "senior" mode a few years early.
Meet Marv (No. 64 PF)
Marvin Clark has overcome the loss of his father and now embraces the role of being the man of his family.
Sadly, he's had to grow up too fast.
As a child, he witnessed drugs, violence and the ugly side of life. According to Clark (accompanying video), his mother was in abusive relationships and was once married to a "pretty well known drug dealer."
"That only lasted only so long," he said. "Our house was kicked in...it was hard seeing it, being young, police asking you questions...I grew up watching him beat her."
Today, he's a young man who wants more, not only for himself, but for his younger siblings. That's admirable.
At 6'7" and 225 pounds, Clark, the No. 64-ranked 4 in the country, fills a void in the frontcourt. Really, void or not, Izzo can always use a spare body in the paint. The Spartans play a tough style, and having big men who can effectively participate in said style and score a few points always comes in handy.
Izzo needs finesse on the boards. He needs a clean-up man. He needs Clark, who can basically adapt to any surroundings.
It's important to note one thing: Stories like Clark's need to be viewed carefully. Don't look at him and say, "Oh, poor kid." He's not some poor kid. He's a guy who is looking for a way out of a less-than-desirable situation.
Instead of making excuses, he's doing something about it.
Look at him and say, "Good for you."
If you're in search of a newcomer to root for, Clark is as good as anyone to back. Izzo's known for developing his recruits into well-adjusted college students who, after a few years, become ready for the real world.
Note: Per 247Sports, as of April 12, 2014, Clark is committed, but unsigned.
Javon Bess (No. 45 SF)
Javon Bess is the classic case of a blue-collar guy who, for whatever reason, was slightly overlooked by most high-majors.
Izzo's offer was, by far, Bess' top option. That's not a knock on Kansas State, Dayton (which made it to the Elite Eight), Cleveland State or Kent State.
But it's hard for them to compete with 17 straight NCAA tourney appearances, six Final Fours and a national championship. In 2013-14, the Spartans were seven points away from their seventh national semi under Izzo.
With Bess, the quest for the next one starts this winter. The 6'5," 185-pound scorer possesses a fluid style. Shots appear easy, he dribbles with great control and he just moves well.
He's one of the guys you can look at say, "That's a basketball player."
As the accompanying video states, the Gahana Lincoln (Columbus) star is considered one of the top players in Ohio, which has been good to Izzo's arch nemesis, Michigan, during the past four years.
Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan State Spartans basketball writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81
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