Michigan State Basketball Recruiting: Implications of Kenny Kaminski's Release

Brad Almquist@bquist13Featured ColumnistAugust 5, 2014

Feb 16, 2014; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans forward Kenny Kaminski (30) attempts a three point basket against the Nebraska Cornhuskers during the 2nd half of a game at Jack Breslin Student Events Center. Nebraska won 60-51. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Late Monday, Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo confirmed in a statement (h/t MLive.com's Kyle Austin) that sophomore Kenny Kaminski had been released from the team. Kaminski's departure from East Lansing has multiple implications for the 2014 season and onward.

First, it means that the Spartans lose an important asset in an otherwise unimpressive returning frontcourt. Adreian Payne graduated, and Alex Gauna decided to leave the sport for good.

Now, facing the lofty responsibility of replacing Payne are junior Matt Costello and sophomore Gavin Schilling. Neither player has ample experience as a starter although Costello was occasionally inserted into the starting five due to injuries last year.

However, he still has a lot of room for improvement. As the projected starter, Costello must diversify his offensive skill set by adopting a solid jump shot and finishing consistently around the rim.

Schilling, on the other hand, is recovering from hernia surgery. The 6'9" sophomore played sparingly as a freshman, averaging just 6.4 minutes per game.

Aside from returning the talented Branden Dawson, the frontcourt's outlook isn't too bright.

Kaminski's departure just magnifies that issue. He had a legitimate chance to start at the power forward spot, which would subsequently move Dawson to the wing. At 6'6", that should be Dawson's natural position.

Then, Costello would move to the 5. Kaminski is a stretch 4 who spaces out the floor with his accuracy from long distance. As a freshman last season, he led the Big Ten with a 49 percent shooting clip from three-point range.

He would have served as an ideal complement and counterpart to the bulkier Costello, who prefers to battle in the trenches.  For an already meager front court, Kaminski's release from the team certainly complicates the team rotationally and in terms of depth.

On a brighter note, however, his departure opens up another space for a recruit in the 2015 class. Izzo has had several highly touted prospects within his sights, but he only had one more spot available after securing two transfers.

Now, with another spot available, Izzo could garner a couple of important players.

Still heavily considering MSU are Caleb Swanigan, Eric Davis and Jalen Brunson, per 247Sports. SMU decommit Matt McQuaid, who is also classified for 2015, recently told Inside the Hall that Izzo just extended an offer to him as well. All four are top 60 players in their class, according to ESPN, and would help the Spartans immediately.

If Kaminski had not been dismissed, MSU may not have secured one of those players. But now it looks a lot more promising because of the luxury of having an additional spot available.

However, for the time being, the news of Kaminski's release is unfortunate.

He was the biggest surprise contributor of all the players who impacted the team last year. As a relatively obscure freshman, he took advantage of his opportunity and emerged as an important player for the Elite Eight team.

His track record hasn't been the smoothest. Kaminski was walking on thin ice after multiple suspensions last season.

Izzo's statement clarifies the reports, but it doesn't delve into the exact specifications of Kaminski's wrongdoing. It remains to be seen whether the issue was attitudinal, related to academics or something else.

But at this point, it is irrelevant. Izzo made this situation sound trivial from a playing standpoint because he is so encouraged with his team's progression this summer.

Kaminski isn't a headliner, but he also isn't a benchwarmer. This loss stings for MSU.

Izzo will move on with the players he believes are buying in.


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