In an NCAA tournament wackier than a vacation with the Griswolds, Coach K’s Duke Blue Devils escaped through the flames and the rubble to claim college basketball’s top prize.
Duke’s accomplishment is now etched in sports atlases for eternity, and their accomplishment will be talked about for a few more weeks.
But in the world of sports, we are always looking for more.
In this case, let’s take a trip in our DeLorean a few months ahead, all the way to November 2010. I know, I know. It is hard to fathom what the world will be like, but try to bear with me.
Specifically, let’s examine the potential of Tom Izzo’s Michigan State Spartans.
Falling to Butler in the Final Four with star point guard Kalin Lucas watching from the sidelines, the Spartans are set to bring back every player—well, everyone except graduating senior Raymar Morgan—for the 2010-11 season.
The program also has at least four solid recruits coming in this fall, including four-star point guard Keith Appling and five-star big man Adreian Payne. Rivals.com has Appling ranked in the top 10 nationally of point guards coming out of high school, while Payne is ranked fourth at the center position.
The other recruits—Russell Byrd (small forward) and Alex Gauna (power forward)—are three-star athletes that fill certain needs, such as Byrd’s three-point shooting. It is unclear whether one or both of these players will redshirt their freshman year, but they should excel at some point in time either way.
Combining an outstanding recruiting class with all of the returning players from back-to-back Final Four berths, the only real question that remains revolves around the NBA draft.
Rumors are swirling concerning Lucas and perimeter swingman Durrell Summers jumping to the Association. While Lucas is probably less of a real threat to go because of his ruptured tendon and room for improvement, Summers may try to cash in on an impressive tournament performance.
Scouts have salivated over Summers’ skills ever since he postured Connecticut’s Stanley Robinson in the Final Four last year, but he struggled during the regular season this year and was even benched by Izzo at key times. It took a closed-door meeting with Izzo to resurrect his game, and now Summers could potentially be an NBA first-rounder.
But think about it this way: If the Spartans return everybody who can come back, as well as bring in these talented new recruits, there is no reason why the team should not reach another Final Four and, dare I say it, get over the hump and win the school’s third national championship.
It’s definitely a great time to be a Spartan fan.
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