Now That Max Christie Is Gone, What Happens With MSU Basketball?
In case you haven't heard, Michigan State freshman guard Max Christie (pictured above) has hired an agent and will remain in the upcoming NBA Draft. And thus, foregoing his final three years of eligibility at MSU.
Monday night's announcement shouldn't be a shock to anybody. It had been widely rumored that he was leaning towards staying in the Draft ever since he declared for it back in April. But by hiring an agent, Christie can no longer return to school.
So, where does that leave MSU Basketball for the 2022-23 season? A few thoughts...
ONLY TEN SCHOLARSHIP PLAYERS ON THE TEAM
As of this writing (morning of May 17th), Michigan State has only ten scholarship players for next year (you are allowed up to 13). They are: Joey Hauser, Tyson Walker, A.J. Hoggard, Malik Hall, Jaden Akins, Pierre Brooks, Mady Sissoko, and incoming freshmen Jaxon Kohler, Trejuan Holloman, and Carson Cooper.
Tom Izzo told Tim Staudt last week that he might sign another player for this coming fall, but it's not definite. If Izzo doesn't sign anybody, they could either bank the scholarships for 2023. Or they could give the available ones to the walk-ons for next year.
JADEN AKINS, PIERRE BROOKS, & MADY SISSOKO NEED TO STEP UP
Akins and Brooks (who will be true sophomores next season) came to East Lansing with big hype and legit credentials. Brooks was Michigan's Mr. Basketball in the 2020-21 COVID-19 year, and Akins had shown flashes of potential dating back to high school. Both guys need to take a major step forward if MSU is to do anything next year.
As for Sissoko (a third-year sophomore because of the free COVID year of 2020-21), with the departures of Marcus Bingham and Gabe Brown in the frontcourt, he'll be counted on to provide just more than a few minutes at a time. Which has been the case so far for him.
AT LEAST YOU'RE FINE AT POINT GUARD
The one position Tom Izzo is set at for next season (barring injuries) is the most important position on the floor--point guard. Tyson Walker is back for his second year here after transferring from Northeastern before last season, and A.J. Hoggard returns for his third year (Hoggard is a third-year sophomore because of the COVID year). Both have been very good at times. But other times it was a struggle. Consistency is key for them. But at least Izzo has two guys who can play the position adequately.
WHAT ABOUT A NEW ASSISTANT COACH?
Coach Izzo still needs to replace longtime assistant Dwayne Stephens, who left to take the head coaching job at Western Michigan University a month ago. He still has Mark Montgomery, Mike Garland, and Doug Wojcik on staff. Former Izzo players Matt McQuaid (director of operations) and Austin Thornton (video coordinator) are on staff now and are possibilities to replace Stephens. Their relative youth may be an asset to Izzo, if one of them is added as an official assistant coach.
Tom Izzo has taken the Spartans to the NCAA Tournament every year since 1998 (remember, no tournament for anybody in 2020. Thanks, COVID-19). That is pretty remarkable. If they want to keep that streak going, they'll need steady play in the backcourt. And for a handful of guys to step up and become more than just bit players. We'll start finding out the answers in November.