It’s hard to find the negative in landing three five-star recruits in a month, but I’ve done it. What does this mean for Michigan State basketball?
After Emoni Bates committed to play at Michigan State, most fans knew that it would have a gigantic impact on recruiting for this program. Many fans may have completely ignored the other, more negative side to this. The “what if” that hopefully won’t happen.
Maybe I’m being too much of a pessimist after a legendary recruiting month, but I can’t help it. First Bates, then Max Christie and now Enoch Boakye. I’ll sit back and enjoy it, but first I have to get my questions out of the way.
This might not be the immediate thought for everybody, but it may not all be fine and dandy for this program post-Emoni. As a coach who has primarily recruited four-star guys and occasionally dabbled into five-stars, the possibility that he’s not concerned with the long-term future of this program anymore should be considered. That’s not to say he doesn’t care about the program, but in a way, he could be getting ready to pass the torch onto the next guy.
Tom Izzo is 65 years old. This hasn’t seemed to slow him down at all, but the clock is ticking for the legendary coach. The oldest current active coach in college basketball is Jim Boeheim at 75 years old, making him the oldest in the history of D1 NCAA basketball. Historically, late 60s is where we’ve seen most legendary coaches step down and retire.
At this point, I ask you to take a look at the scenario we have before us. Again, Izzo is 65. His son currently plays on the team and he just went all-out to get commitments from three five-star recruits for the next few years. Obviously, guys are coaching longer than they used to, but the signs are pointing to a possible retirement.
By no stretch am I saying that he will retire, but wouldn’t it make sense for him to step down after a 2022 season with the greatest player of his generation on his squad and his son graduating?
On the opposite end of this, there are plenty of coaches that are up to a decade older than him still at the helm of their respective programs. I’ve mentioned Boeheim at the geriatric age of 75, but the name that comes to mind first is Mike Krzyzewski. Coach K has collected over 1,000 wins in his career as a head basketball coach, more than any other coach in the history of basketball. As recently as last year, fans have even claimed that the 72-year-old could coach for another decade.
And while the old man has publicly denied plans to hang it up, you can imagine he won’t be around until the age of 85. Nonetheless, he’s still tearing it up with powerhouse teams year in and year out. But how does all of this relate to Izzo?
Twenty years ago, a 65-year-old head basketball coach would have likely retired already. Or at the very least, he would have started planning his retirement. With multiple legendary coaches ahead of him, you have to imagine Izzo believes that he still has time to add a couple of national championships to his legacy. And thus, you reach another possible reasoning for the recent explosion of five-star recruits.
In this scenario, Izzo is not ending his career, but rather starting a new chapter in his career. If you assume that he could coach until Boeheim’s age of 75, Izzo has a decade left that he might be planning to fill with big names and five-star recruits.
At the end of the day, it’s really just a waiting game, but hopefully the old geezer sticks around for at least a few more years.