Michigan State Holiday Wish List 2018: Wish No. 17 for Spartan fans

CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 08: Miles Bridges #0 of the Charlotte Hornets reacts after a play against the Chicago Bulls during their game at Spectrum Center on October 8, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 08: Miles Bridges #0 of the Charlotte Hornets reacts after a play against the Chicago Bulls during their game at Spectrum Center on October 8, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

Michigan State’s 25 wishes list continues today and will run for the next two and a half weeks. What is the No. 17 wish for all Spartan fans?

Here is wish No. 17 on our Michigan State fan wish list as we count down to wish No. 1.

Wish No. 17

Jaren Jackson Jr. and Miles Bridges to thrive in the NBA this season to help aid in the recruiting of top-tier talent for Michigan State basketball’s 2019 recruiting class, and beyond.

Before you question this wish and reasoning behind it, allow me to explain certain things in the evolving and changing world of college basketball recruiting that is occurring right now. First, the University of Kentucky, over a decade ago, began the first wave of changes for college basketball recruiting by focusing on one and done top tier recruits by making it the No. 1 priority under head coach John Calipari.

It is best illustrated by his now famous quote, “Last year we started the season with a goal,” he said in the spring of 2015. “You may think that goal was to win the national title and win all the games and be… It was to get eight players drafted.”

At first, many people were appalled at the fact that Calipari cared more about getting his players drafted in the NBA lottery than winning a national championship.

Fast forward to 2018 and not as many people as they did then disagree with him and here’s why.

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski started to change his own recruiting philosophy in 2011. If you look at Duke’s one-and-done players, some of them have gone in the top-three in the NBA draft such as Kyrie Irving, Jabari Parker, Jahlil Okafor, Brandon Ingram and Jayson Tatum. Duke has also had other high-profile picks like Marvin Bagley III, Wendell Carter, Jr., Justice Winslow and Tyus Jones.

The difference some can argue is that Duke has three national championships in the 2000s or 21st century compared to Kentucky’s one. You can make a very strong argument that Duke has now surpassed Kentucky in being able to recruit the top-tier college basketball recruits. This past year’s recruiting for class for Duke was by far the most highly-rated and this year’s class seems to be no different. But here is how it ties into Michigan State and its recruiting of top talent.

The big news this past week was that Michigan State lost once again in the ongoing recruiting of top-tier recruits to Duke. Many recruiting insiders and so-called experts had seen the recruitment of five-star recruit Vernon Carey Jr. falling between the Spartans and Blue Devils. Similar to what had occurred in the recruiting decision of the top-tier recruit Jabari Parker, Michigan State lost out to Duke.

What does this recruiting class still after Carey’s commitment to Duke have to do with the Spartans and Blue Devils moving forward? The No. 3 and No. 4 rated recruits according to ESPN. Anthony Edwards and Isaiah Stewart both have offers from Michigan State and Duke and both by the late signing period in April may be choosing between the Spartans and Blue Devils.

Back to the original wish. Why does the success of Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson Jr. have to do with the recruiting of top-tier recruits who more than likely will be choosing between Michigan State and Duke? Recruits’ decision making processes have changed and here’s why.

Let me preface this by saying that not all top-rated recruits have the same mindset and goals when they choose a particular university and program to attend as a student athlete. All Division 1 recruits with various offers have a lot to weight when picking a school. They may, for example, have in high regard the opinions of their coaches, friends and family. They also may factor in things such as the location of the school, academics, the status of the program and head coach at the university, the current players already at the school and how they will fit in and more.

The decision is beginning of late that with all of those factors included, that the most highly-recruited prospects who may have mainly focused on being drafted in the NBA lottery after one and two seasons, is now concentrating on not just being drafted in the lottery but playing well enough in the NBA to get a lucrative contract once their rookie contract has ended. Now back to the impact of Jackson and Bridges on recruiting.

Jackson was drafted by the Memphis Grizzlies as the No. 4 pick of the 2018 NBA Draft. Bridges was also a lottery pick being drafted as the No. 12 pick by the L.A. Clippers, but was later traded to the Charlotte Hornets. These were the two highest NBA draft picks that Tom Izzo has had in a while.

In comparison, the last period of time when the Spartans had multiple first-round draft picks was after their 2000 National Championship when Mateen Cleaves was chosen No. 14 by the Detroit Pistons and Morris Peterson was picked No. 21 by the Toronto Raptors. The following year’s draft saw Jason Richardson picked No. 5 by the Golden State Warriors and Zach Randolph chosen No. 19 by the Portland Trail Blazers.

Fast forward then to the 2014 NBA Draft, Adreian Payne was picked No. 15 by the Atlanta Hawks and Gary Harris was drafted No. 19 by the Chicago Bulls and then traded to the Nuggets.

The next three NBA drafts only saw one Spartan being drafted in the first round and that was in 2016 when Denzel Valentine was selected No. 14 by the Chicago Bulls.

Now, many college basketball programs would love to have Michigan State’s NBA draft history. However, when the Spartans are competing against the other top programs like Kansas, North Carolina, Kentucky and, more importantly, Duke, and want and to recruit these highly sought-after recruits, they need Jackson and Bridges to be successful in the NBA.

So how might their success help Michigan State in recruiting and what would help Izzo and his staff get commitments from Edwards and Stewart? I will explain.

Many of us already know about the success of former second-round draft pick and NBA champion Draymond Green but the achievements and accomplishments of Jackson and Bridges may go a long way in convincing top tier recruits to pick Michigan State over Duke.

If Jackson and Bridges were to be both selected in this season’s Rising Stars Challenge for NBA All-Star Weekend, both being selected to either the first or second all-rookie team and to be full time starters on their respective teams by the end of the season, that could help Izzo on the recruiting trail. So why does Izzo have to do so much convincing to get these recruits to pick the Spartans over the Blue Devils?

It’s no secret that opposing college coaches even though they respect Izzo and his program, say certain things to persuade recruits to pick their schools over Michigan State.

One example for them is immediate playing time. Highly sought-after 2018 recruit Marcus Bingham Jr. has played in eight out of 10 games this season and is currently averaging 5.1 minutes a game. Jackson Jr. played only 15 minutes in the Spartans’ NCAA tournament loss to Syracuse. However, Bridges averaged 32 minutes a game as a freshmen and current Spartans Joshua Langford and Cassius Winston played significant minutes as freshmen as well.

It all depends on how you look at it. There are other things that coaches may say about Izzo such as he is too demanding of his freshmen and hold them accountable for their mistakes on the court. Once again, though, former players like Green, Harris and, more importantly, Bridges and Jackson have repeatedly praised Izzo time and time again for his impact on their success in the NBA. It all depends on how recruits view Izzo and his development of players in order for them to get ready for a career in the NBA.

Next. MSU basketball: Top 4 remaining 2019 recruiting targets. dark

This was a longer written wish but I felt it was needed to explain why it was No. 17 on our wish list. It is the holiday season and if you wish it, it may come true.