Year one can’t really be considered a success for AJ Hoggard with Michigan State basketball but it also wasn’t a failure.
Hoggard looked like a point guard who showed flashes of being able to lead an offense but his lack of quality shooting was holding him back. Defenses pretty much didn’t have to account for him around the perimeter with his 16 percent shooting from deep and 31 percent field goal rate.
His defense, too, could have used a little work as he wasn’t the quickest defender but he had the body to hang in the Big Ten. He wasn’t like a Foster Loyer who just gets bodied and bullied by any opposing guard with even an inch on him. Hoggard can work on that defense this summer and focus heavily on his jumper which was broken last season.
Confidence seemed to be the one thing lacking with Hoggard in terms of his jumper as it continuously got worse throughout the year.
If he adds a shot and works on conditioning and footwork this offseason, he’s going to have an important role for the Spartans.
What will Hoggard’s role be with Michigan State basketball?
Last season, Michigan State had an extreme shortage of capable point guards last season with Loyer struggling quite a bit and Rocket Watts not playing his natural position so Hoggard was forced into action early and often. He was relied upon heavily earlier in the season when Loyer and Watts were struggling at the one and he played fairly well.
Hoggard’s ability to drive the lane and finish strong was something that stood out with him and made it seem like he had a spot in the starting five for the remainder of the year.
But then his shot dropped off and he couldn’t hit anything.
The freshman played 13.2 minutes per game, averaging 2.5 points, 2.0 assists, and 1.9 steals and his numbers may not have been crazy impressive, but he showed promise. In year two, I see him playing off the ball a little more with Akins and Walker on campus and he’ll be able to work on his offense a little more now that he doesn’t have to worry about running the show.
With Watts gone, I can see Hoggard playing a little more of that role and increasing his minutes that way. He’ll be a valuable role player and he’ll probably play between 15-20 minutes and do a little of everything from the guard spot a-la Denzel Valentine.
Don’t count Hoggard out just yet.