Michigan State Basketball: With Josh Langford out, Rocket Watts must grow up fast

Josh Langford, Michigan State basketball (Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images)
Josh Langford, Michigan State basketball (Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images) /

Josh Langford has been officially ruled out for the remainder of the Michigan State basketball season and it’s time for Rocket Watts to step up.

Thursday wasn’t a good day for Spartan fans.

Sure, it was the day after a Michigan State victory over Northwestern, becoming the first road team to win a Big Ten matchup this season, but just days after seeing a specialist in New York, Josh Langford was ruled out for the remainder of the 2019-20 season.

This had to be the toughest news possible for a kid who had poured his entire being into the program only to sit on the end of the bench in a boot for the past 12 months.

Langford was one of the last hopes Michigan State had for the team that was ranked No. 1 in the preseason and a potential return would have meant the final piece to the puzzle was in place.

Now, reality has struck.

Without Langford, the Spartans are going to need to find some extra scoring. He averaged 15 points per game last season and shot 40 percent from 3-point range before his injury, so where will that type of production come from?

It will have to be a team effort. Gabe Brown, Kyle Ahrens and Aaron Henry will all be depended on even more and with that will come elevated expectations.

But the most important player moving forward will be Rocket Watts.

The freshman guard has had a rough start to the season but a lot of his struggles may have stemmed from a stress reaction in his foot where he wasn’t getting a ton of lift. Luckily, the coaching staff and training staff caught it before it was too late. He’s expected to return against Eastern Michigan, or next week, and he’ll be full-strength by Big Ten play.

Watts has the same type of tools as Langford with solid perimeter defense and the potential to shoot from anywhere on the floor but he is still learning and adjusting to the college game.

But if Michigan State is going to be even close to the No. 1 preseason team it was expected to be, Watts is going to have to grow up quickly, get out of that shooting slump and continue handling the ball to give Cassius Winston off-ball looks.

Next. Player grades for MSU's win at Northwestern. dark

The season is not over with Langford officially ruled out. This team is still capable of special things like it was a year ago, but that success may ride on the shoulders of Watts’ growth.