Michigan State basketball is still aiming for a top 2020 guard in Karim Mane. How would the five-star guard fit with the Spartans?
Struggling to put into words what the loss of Cassius Winston means for the immediate future of Michigan State, there’s reason to believe that the blow would be cushioned by the commitment of a five-star guard from Canada.
Karim Mane had a scheduled visit to Michigan State next week cancelled because of the COVID-19 outbreak which also ended the college basketball season a month early.
Winston was robbed of his final opportunity to win a national title in the green and white and an unfortunate realization surfaced: the Spartans don’t have a true point guard for 2020-21.
Sure, Foster Loyer came to Michigan State as a pure point guard, but he hasn’t proven much in two years, showing that his defense could use a ton of work and he hasn’t had a major impact on offense despite possessing a great jumper. He’s not athletic, tall or incredibly quick and that’s why a commitment from Jalen Terry last April was so crucial.
Terry was expected to take over for Winston when he graduated so Rocket Watts didn’t have to shift over to point guard. But a de-commitment shortly after a pledge from AJ Hoggard shifted the focus to the transfer portal for the next point guard.
Though he’s not as experienced as Aiken and Hardy as a high school prospect, he is every bit as talented. He’s an athletic combo guard who could run the point for the Spartans in 2020-21. He has good size at 6-foot-4 and 195 pounds and he can take defenders off the dribble, create for himself and drive to the hole and draw contact. He’s an athlete.
Landing him will be tough without a visit, but Tom Izzo seems to be very interested and, as Chris Solari of the Detroit Free Press wrote this week, Mane’s high school coach thinks he’d be a great fit in the Spartans’ system. He wants Mane to play for the Hall of Fame coach.
So how would he fit if he were to commit?
Well, he’d be a more athletic Cassius who may not quite have the same effective long-range shot, but can get to the hole with more ease and regularity. He’s strong but lanky and he’ll have all he needs to be a top-tier defender under Izzo. He would be a more polished version of Terry (who is now committed to play for Oregon).
Mane may not start from day one, but I could see him pushing for that No. 1 point guard spot a month into the season, allowing Rocket to play off the ball. That would likely push someone like Gabe Brown to the bench, but it would provide much-needed depth to the backcourt.
In this case, Loyer’s minutes would likely remain limited. It would be Mane, Watts and Hoggard sharing point guard duties.
This would be a commitment that would do nothing but help the Spartans who may be struggling to find a true replacement for an All-American point guard who just so happens to be a new face on Michigan State’s Mount Rushmore. Mane must be priority No. 1.