The graduation of this year's senior class at Michigan State University will take one of the best basketball players in team history away from the classroom, thus officially ending his career at Michigan State. The Kalin Lucas legacy will be remembered for years by Spartan fans everywhere, but for now, his graduation has left a gaping hole in the Michigan State basketball program.
Lucas, a four-year starter at point guard, was the main source of offense for a struggling team last year, and his graduation means that other players will need to step up if they want to have postseason plans next year. Graduation this year also takes two more guards from the team in former walk-on, Mike Kebler, and former standout Durrell Summers. All three players played key minutes for Michigan State this year, leaving a huge hole to be filled by sophomore Keith Appling and three incoming freshmen.
In steps Brandon Wood.
Brandon Wood, a redshirt junior at Valparaiso, plans to transfer to Michigan State and join the Spartans basketball program for his final year of eligibility as he works toward a masters degree. Wood averaged nearly 32 minutes, 16.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists and 1.7 steals per game this past season for Valpo. His move to East Lansing brings a high-reward, low-risk situation for both the Spartans and Wood.
Wood coming in means that Keith Appling will have an experienced guard to share his new PG duties with. As it stood before, Appling and three incoming freshmen were slated to share the duties of running the team. Wood adds experience both as a point guard and a shooting guard, both positions which the Spartans could use a boost. Last season, they had no consistent scorers from the outside, and Wood brings the ability to score from long range. He shot 36 percent from three-point range last year which will help the Spartans who are graduating the once deadly Durrell Summers and are losing Korie Lucious due to a transfer of his own.
Wood is a high character guy who will definitely add some maturity to an otherwise young team. The Spartans will have two seniors and one junior on scholarship this upcoming season due to the recent transfer of Garrick Sherman. Wood can come in and be a sidekick to Draymond Green and Delvon Roe as the Spartans try to regroup from their worst season in recent memory. His desire to pursue his Masters is a good sign, and this type of attitude is good for the Spartan program.
Wood will also be on scholarship for only one year which can have tremendous benefits for Michigan State. He has had some time to develop as a player over the last few years so Tom Izzo likely won't have to wait for him to adjust to the speed of the college game like he would have to with an incoming freshman.
If Wood does not pan out, the scholarship ends, and he becomes another player to fade into the past. The good thing is that Izzo does not have to wait four years to see if he pans out or not. He is a one-and-done player at MSU, and if he is a flop, then he is only a one-year commitment.
Izzo has two open scholarships due to the transfers of Sherman and Lucious so why not try one on a mature player who has a history of playing well against good competition. He has scored 30 points against North Carolina, 24 against the Spartans and 20-plus in two games vs. Purdue over the last two years at Valpo.
The move also gives Wood an opportunity to make a bigger name for himself as he plays against quality competition game in and game out. He will get more exposure in the Big Ten than in the Horizon League, which has potential to bode well for his NBA dreams. He will also be able to develop his game as a student of Tom Izzo, a coach who has former players such as Zach Randolph, Jason Richardson, Morris Peterson and Shannon Brown (among others) who are currently in the NBA.
Izzo is in no way promising Wood a starting spot, but based on his track record, there is a good chance that he could earn it. If he does, and excels as well, he could boost his NBA draft resume, if not his shot at the NBA could take a major hit.
For the Spartans, they have very little to lose in signing Wood. Wood has a lot to lose but a tremendous amount to gain as well. The Spartans have a need, and Wood fills that need in a low-risk situation. Let's hope that it works out for all parties involved. If not, at least Wood will come away from Michigan State with a masters degree that he can fall back on.