I don't love Tom Izzo's roster construction strategy

Ohio State v Michigan State
Ohio State v Michigan State / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

I think it's time we have a serious discussion about Tom Izzo's strategy when it comes to building his roster.

After more than a few mediocre years, it was very apparent that Michigan State needed to attack the transfer portal aggressively and go after an elite center to complete the roster. Instead of doing that however, MSU earned a commitment from a transfer center who will likely be third-string at best on the roster.

I have been the first one to defend Izzo with how he has handled his roster construction, but I am starting to not love his strategy when it comes to building Michigan State's roster.

What is his strategy?

Izzo has made it very clear that he intends on prioritizing high school recruiting when it comes to building his roster. He hopes to keep things as similar as possible to the pre-transfer portal days where everyone relied on high school recruits be around for 3-4 years and grow into high level players by the time they graduate or move on to the NBA.

Izzo also still plans on using the portal, but he doesn't want to shake up his roster too much when doing so. It looks like Izzo only wants to use the portal when absolutely necessary, and get guys who don't have much eligibility remaining so it doesn't deter current players or future high school recruits from coming to or staying at Michigan State.

There are probably a million other things that go into his strategy, but I think this is about as simply as you could put it. But let's dive into why I don't love this strategy.

The downfalls of this strategy

Let me first say that I still love that Izzo is still prioritizing recruiting high school recruits to build the main portion of his roster. I think this is the best decision when it comes to maintaining the elite culture that we have at Michigan State, so this part of his strategy I actually love.

But what I don't love is his hesitancy to use the portal to get a star player at a position that so clearly needs help. For example, this offseason I would have been against going after a star point guard in the portal. Michigan State already has Jeremy Fears Jr. and Tre Holloman as well as incoming freshman Jase Richardson, so there is no need to push any of those guys out for a new transfer. But the center position is much different.

The three guys I listed at point guard could all be elite players for Michigan State either this season or in the coming years, the same can't be confidently said for the centers on the roster currently. So would it have been the worst thing in the world if Izzo got a star center from the portal and ultimately lost one of MSU's current centers to the portal? I wouldn't have been upset with that outcome. So Izzo needs to learn when it's appropriate to overhaul the roster at a position that is so obviously struggling and be okay with some of his current players leaving.

Being afraid to prioritize the portal could also hurt Michigan State if one of their key players does enter the portal themselves. Michigan State has been lucky so far to not have any highly important players enter the portal, but it takes one bad offseason where two or three key players enter the portal that could leave Izzo and his staff scrambling.

So while I am happy with most of Izzo's roster construction strategies, his failure to fully adopt to the portal when needed could be the reason Michigan State struggles again this season. I hope I am proven wrong, but I'm afraid another average season and just barely sneaking into the NCAA Tournament could be on the horizon.