Down Jaden Akins and Malik Hall for the Phil Knight Invitational, Michigan State basketball needed someone to step up.
Heck, the Spartans needed a few players to step up because leaving the weekend with a winning record wasn’t going to be easy. We saw Tyson Walker become that go-to scorer and clutch performer, Joey Hauser battled through injuries to play really well, and Pierre Brooks was really good on both ends of the floor as a first-time starter.
Oh, and Jason Whitens came off the bench to give the Spartans good minutes.
He played just four minutes against Alabama and didn’t record any stats and then added three minutes versus Oregon and picked up three big rebounds. He was very productive in a short stint.
Whitens ended the weekend with his most minutes as a Spartan, finishing with four points, two rebounds, and an assist in 17 minutes. He was all over the floor and showed hustle on both ends, even locking down defensively.
He proved he could be a legit rotational piece this year.
PKI was good for Michigan State basketball, Whitens
The loss of two starters may end up being a really good thing for Michigan State in the long run as it forced some guys to grow up in a hurry.
We saw Brooks play like a starter, Hauser looked like a leader, Walker looked like a star, and even Tre Holloman had the look of a future floor general and defensive stopper. And Whitens became a rotational player. This is huge for depth.
While he may not play 10-plus minutes per game, it’s good to know that the Spartans have someone who can come in when guys are in foul trouble. He’s 6-foot-6 and is listed as a wing but he can be versatile enough to play just about anywhere from the two to the four, in pinch situations.
This past weekend was good for Whitens and Michigan State basketball.