Jaden Akins' decision will dictate expectations for Michigan State basketball

March 23, 2024, Charlotte, NC, USA; Michigan State Spartans guard Jaden Akins (3) reacts in the
March 23, 2024, Charlotte, NC, USA; Michigan State Spartans guard Jaden Akins (3) reacts in the / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Following the North Carolina loss last week, Michigan State basketball fans immediately turned their attention to the 2024-25 season and what the roster could look like.

There are some decisions to be made by guys like AJ Hoggard, Mady Sissoko, and Jaden Akins. All three have the option to return next season but everyone has assumed that Akins is returning. There's also chatter that Sissoko could opt to come back as a depth piece in the post.

Well, in case everyone forgot, Akins decided to enter his name into the NBA draft last offseason but opted to return in the end. That was huge for the hopes of the 2023-24 team. But it was clear that he felt like he was close to making that leap to the NBA and after another season of experience and showing what he can do (although he hasn't come close to his potential) could sway him to make the leap yet again -- this time for good.

But I don't think it's that easy this time. He didn't quite have the season he expected to have and he'll now be taking over as the likely top offensive option for the Spartans in 2024-25 if he did come back. That's quite the draw. He could improve his stock by having a breakout senior year.

A lot hinges on this decision.

If Akins does leave, Michigan State will have to adjust its expectations, especially if Tom Izzo decides not to utilize the portal for a starting-caliber wing. If he returns, Michigan State will be a contender and Izzo can focus on adding a starting-caliber center from the portal and maybe a small forward/wing.

Akins' return would be huge for this program, even after a disappointing season.