Jan. 5, 2013; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans guard Denzel Valentine (45) reacts to play against the Purdue Boilermakers during the first half at Jack Breslin Students Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Men’s Basketball: A Closer Look at the Freshmen


Several of the Michigan State Spartans men’s basketball players have already received special recognition this season. We all know the names “Gary Harris” and “Denzel Valentine,” but do any of us know who these players are, where they come from, and what their accolades are outside of this season? Maybe the most die-hard Spartan does, but for the rest of us at Spartan Avenue. let’s take a closer look at each of the men on the basketball team. We’ll start with their freshmen.

#10 Matt Costello, Forward

December 1, 2012; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans forward Matt Costello (10) drives to the basket against against the Nicholls State Colonels during the second half at Jack Breslin Students Events Center. MSU won 84-39. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Costello, from Bay City, Michigan, is a 6’9″ and 245 pound player who is known for his habit of creating space by using his body. He started off his college career slowly, due to a bruised tailbone. He missed the first three games, and started the season by only playing a few minutes per game. Costello was a 2012 Hal Schram Mr. Basketball award winner, 2012 Gatorade Michigan High School Player of the Year, 2012 Parade Magazine All-American, and Detroit Free Press and Detroit News Dream Team selection for two years in a row. If this guy gets a chance, he will show himself to be a powerhouse. He was ranked, in high school, as one of the top 100 players. It’s unfortunate that he hasn’t had more floor time due to his early-season injury. It is projected, though, that Costello will become one of Michigan States biggest leaders. We’ll have to see what he does as the season progresses and I look forward to seeing Costello develop as a player.

 

Jan. 5, 2013; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans guard Gary Harris (14) looks to make pass against the Purdue Boilermakers during the second half at Jack Breslin Students Events Center. MSU won 84-61. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

#14 Gary Harris, Guard

Gary Harris has had trouble with his shoulders. An early sprain in his left shoulder had him out for a bit in November, and he had a second scare when his right shoulder popped out during practice before his December 22 game. Despite problems with bodily injuries, Gary Harris has been setting basketball on fire for the Spartans. Harris scored 22 points against Purdue in the most recent Spartans game. Big scoring isn’t unfamiliar for Harris. He’s already received Freshman of the Week Honors – twice.  This freshman from Fishers, Indiana is used to the spotlight. As a high school student, he received honors including 2012 McDonald’s All American, 2012 Jordan Brand Classic game invitee, 2012 Indianapolis Star Mr. Basketball winner, 2012 Indiana Gatorade Player of the Year, 2012 Parade All-American, and 2012 Indiana All-Star (where he earned MVP status).

#30 Kenny Kaminski, Forward, NP

We haven’t heard a lot about Kaminski this season. That’s not an accident. This player may be forced to redshirt this year in order to retain his eligibility. Kaminksi missed nearly all of his senior year of high school’s season and has missed a good deal of the season at Michigan State due to a shoulder injury. From Medinia, Ohio, he was also a football player in high school. He had surgery on his right shoulder after sustaining an injury during practice in the summer in the same shoulder that required surgery fall 2011. When he was playing, he was a high-scorer, averaging 20 points per game. Kaminski was an All-Inland First Team honoree and a three time all-conference and all-county selection.

 

#45 Denzel Valentine, Guard

When you’re not hearing about Gary Harris, you’re often hearing about freshman teammate Denzel Valentine. This 6’5″ player is known for being a playmaker and a skilled passer. Valentine is known for being on coach Tom Izzo’s tough-love list. There are high expectations for this player, as he has received a lot of attention for his offensive abilities, and he has been compared to Magic. He’s a local player, earning the 2012 Lansing State Journal Player of the Year honors in 2012. He also has been recognized as the 2012 Associated Press Class B Player of the Year, 2012 Detroit Free Press and Detroit News Dream Team honoree, and he finished second only to teammate Matt Costello for the Hal Schram Mr. Basketball Award

All four players show a lot of promise, and two are already receiving national recognition. How will the rest of the season pan out for these freshmen? It’s an exciting prospect to think about how their careers will develop over the next four years. They’re already this good as freshman. Let’s hope they can get it together on the defense to become the strong team the Spartans need.

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