Tom Izzo went for broke last year and put all of his chips on consensus 5 star recruit and arguably the #1 ranked prospect in the 2013 class out of Chicago on Jabari Parker, but cards didn’t fall in his favor. Parker was considered for most of his recruitment a Michigan State lean, and even said that he was all set to join Tom Izzo in East Lansing, but a trip to Duke in October changed everything. After that trip he had a change of heart and ultimately winded up choosing the Blue Devils of Duke University. Izzo spent nearly 4 years building a relationship with Parker and his entire family. All that time and effort Izzo spent was basically for nothing.
Fast forward nearly a year and Izzo is basically in the same situation. Izzo is back in Chicago and this time is going after another consensus 5 star recruit in Cliff Alaexander. Alexander has long been considered a hard lean to Michigan State early on in his recruitment, but now the feeling is that he is leaning more towards Kansas. The book is basically all but closed on Alexander, but expect Izzo to keep pushing hard for Cliff. Tyus Jones out of Minnesota and Jahlil Okafor from Chicago are two more 5 star recruits Izzo was in on, but they are both considered hard leans to Duke. Neither Jones or Okafor were expected to wind up in East Lansing and they have been considered a “package deal”.
Probably the most heartbreaking recruit to lose to Izzo probably was Tyler Ulis. The fast rising point guard was not a first choice by Izzo, but he did end up extending a scholarship offer after seeing Ulis perform on the AAU circuit. For almost the entirety of Ulis’s recruitment he was considered to be on his way to East Lansing, that was basically a done deal up until Coach Cal from Kentucky came calling. These days, getting an offer from Kentucky means that you are one of the best players in the country. Kentucky routinely churns out pros year in and year out and recruits see that. They think that if they go to Kentucky, they’ll get to the NBA faster and frankly can you argue with them based on the recent history of one and done players that Kentucky has had? As soon as Ulis got the offer from Kentucky, the Michigan State insiders knew that he was gone, he was Kentucky bound and Ulis confirmed that just last Friday night.
So where does this leave Izzo? He still has plenty of good options left on the board. An Indiana decommit has got the attention of Izzo and with the recent success that Izzo has had in Indiana recently I wouldn’t count him out. James Blackmon Jr. is another 5 star recruit and he too has an offer from Kentucky and is considered a lean, but I wouldn’t count out Izzo on this one. All it takes it one commitment and the ball will get rolling. Even if Izzo doesn’t get a 5 star recruit it doesn’t matter. Draymond Green was a 3 star and he ended up being one of the best players in Michigan State history.