As the proverbial saying goes; “All good things must come to an end.”
And for the Michigan State Men’s Basketball Team, those words echo all too clearly.
One year removed from an improbable title-run, Michigan State will be without star-center and rebounding-crutch Goran Suton, (pictured) due to graduation. Evaporated with his departure are 10 PPG, 8 REB, and an ability to drain the occasional three-point shot.
But while the offensive and defensive prowess will be missed, Head Coach Tom Izzo believes that he has two able-bodied bigs ready—and hungry—to fill the void left by the veteran-center.
Derrick Nix, Center, 6’9” 285 lbs.
Nix, a big-bodied center from legendary Pershing High School in Detroit, was able to capture Mr. Basketball Honors in the state of Michigan this past year; after averaging 15 points and 15 boards a night in his final season at the school.
Due in large part to his massive-size and superior-strength, Nix caught the eyes of both Missouri and Michigan State scouts, but ultimately ended up joining the ranks of Tom Izzo and company.
What he provides to the squad offensively is an interior-presence that was lacking for the most part last season, as center Suton was more of a versatile, jump-shooting talent that was not able to post-up underneath.
With 285 lbs. of man, Nix’s sheer-size can be used to establish position under the rim, which will allow him easy buckets near the basket. Although his hops are lacking, his footwork is decent enough to evade defenders, in turn giving him additional high-percentage shots. But what is perhaps his best attribute, (as noted by Izzo, [see below]) are his soft-hands, which allow him to seize all sorts of passes thrown his way.
On defense, he has the ability to simply clog the middle, forcing offenses to kick it back out upon meeting him in the interior. His weight makes him a tough commodity for opposing bigs to back down, and players attacking the hole will have a hard time getting off a shot with his freakishly long arms.
Here’s what Tom Izzo had to say about Nix:
"Derrick Nix's greatest attributes are his toughness and great hands. He has also played for great programs at both the high school and AAU level, so we know we are getting a well coached player who is very coach-able and wants to get better. Derrick is an intriguing player in that his contributions will rely on his conditioning and his ability to get to a good playing weight. If he can make the same commitment that players like Zach Randolph and Draymond Green made, we believe he has all the skills necessary to succeed. One of the things we like best about Derrick is that he is passionate about the game and he really wants to be at Michigan State. With his knack for getting every loose ball, his great hands and very good footwork, we believe that he is a diamond in the rough."
Garrick Sherman, Center, 6’10” 220 lbs.
Sherman, a slightly taller and much lighter counterpart from his fellow teammate, is the second and final recruit that will be evaluated.
Coming from Kenton High School in Ohio, Sherman averaged 23.4 points and 3.4 blocks in his Senior Season with the Wildcats. He was recruited by the likes of Notre Dame, Purdue, Iowa, and Bowling Green in additional to his eventual suitor: Michigan State.
Offensively, Sherman has huge hands to go along with a big, wide, frame similar to that of Nix. Near the basket, Sherman contains the ability to score using a host of moves, and possesses remarkable footwork for a man of his size.
On the defensive side of the ball, he makes apparent his seemingly never-ending motor, and crashes the boards continually to collect tough rebounds. His enormous hands allow him to grip rebounds that (for most centers) would be considered out-of-reach. In one game, a scout noted the frustration elicited from Sherman’s counterpart, notably inflicted from his [Sherman] relentless pressure on the ball.
What truly makes Sherman stand out though is his ability to go to the line consistently, knocking down the majority of his shots. That can’t be said for most centers nowadays, (Shaq comes to mind).
Izzo had this to say about Sherman:
"Garrick Sherman is a very well-rounded big man, with the ability to shoot, rebound and block shots, as well as being an excellent passer. Because of where he played, he didn't get some of the early recognition that other players received, but we liked what we saw. He has great skills, very good timing, a tremendous work ethic and he is a very intelligent player that does all the little things. His potential to contribute initially will be based on his ability to adjust to the competition at the Division I and Big Ten level."
So while pivotal-center Suton will be missed dearly by the Spartans this coming winter, no worry will be had as these two young power-players are eagerly waiting—and more than ready—to fill the C position on the depth chart, and subsequent stat sheet that Suton seemed to fill up last season.
Stats obtained from ESPN
Quotes obtained from msuspartans.com