LSJ columnist Graham Couch, Freep beat writer Chris Solari and Freep columnist Shawn Windsor break the Spartans & # 39; defeat
Mike DeFabo and Graham Couch and Shawn Windsor and Chris Solari, Lansing State Journal

MINNEAPOLIS – It's not that Michigan State won't miss Matt McQuaid and Kenny Goins next season. It will. Goins, especially considering the questions on his position and everything he gave, both visible and invisible. But you can't view the projected MSU roster for next year without seeing the possibility of a higher ceiling than for this season's Final Four and Big Ten championship team.

The Spartans have perhaps four returning players who are a year away from the NBA design choices: Cassius Winston, Joshua Langford, Aaron Henry and Xavier Tillman. That mix of talent and experience simply no longer happens in college basketball. There is a recruitment class somewhere – find your place between one-and-dones and development projects. These are the children who will be great as second-year students, juniors and seniors.

Or, as Izzo said last week, players who are "good enough to be big, but not big enough to be gone".

Add a freshman guard like Rocket Watts to the mix and the intrigues just grow.

Here's an overview of next year's MSU basketball roster – starters, reserves and wildcards:

Possible starters

Cassius Winston, Sr., PG

Winston was able to test its NBA stock exchange. It would not be a bad idea, considering everything he has achieved this season, how well he will interview NBA teams and rules that allow players to explain for the concept, get a real evaluation through training and then go back to school. Winston's legs may prefer a month off. If he returns for his higher season – and I expect so – it will be his show again. He is a preseason national player of the year candidate with two things to play for: a national championship and getting his game to a level NBA team just can't ignore, even if his size and speed never blow them away. Those two goals are best achieved if Winston continues to transform his body for his NBA Judgment Day and if the next season is slightly less than his show, so that he does not end up in the NCAA tournament and the NBA design process a year later.

RELATED: Couch: In the midst of a humble defeat, Cassius Winston sets a critical tone for the future

Joshua Langford, Sr., SG

Langford expects to start with full basketball training in early August. That gives him about three months to get his game and body in shape. Yet I do not expect that he will immediately be the player he was before his injury. He had become a reliable link artist who came off the scenes and had improved to create his own shot. If this coming season is a struggle for him, Langford would probably have a fifth year, Izzo believes, given the games that were missed last season. If he finds his form quickly, this might be the kind of dream terrain you rarely see on college basketball – two gifted guards, both top-30 recruits, together for their higher seasons. For his foot injury, Langford had turned himself into someone who could save a property. He was not always the most efficient player in recording selection, but he and Winston were connected. I expect that to continue.

Aaron Henry, So., F

Henry looks like he is a good offseason of stardom. The tools are clearly present – athletic, cerebral and from a skill level. The only thing that is needed is trust (that is coming, you can see it), refinement and dedication to its engine. If it all happens, look at a 14-point, seven-rebound, lockdown defender who becomes All-Big Ten as sophomore and then in the NBA. If his 3-point becomes a consistent weapon, he will be a devastating attacking player, because opponents still have little choice but to let him shoot. It is that, or intends to help on the edge. He sees the game well enough that he will also make plays for teammates. That is already starting to happen. What appears elsewhere on the roster might determine whether Henry spends the time in power. He is strong enough and athletic enough to handle it.

March 31, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; Forward Michigan State Spartans Aaron Henry (11) treats the ball against Duke Blue Devils forward Cam Reddish (2) during the first half of the Eastern Region champion match of the 201AA NCAA Tournament at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports (Photo: Amber Searls, Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports)

Marcus Bingham Jr., So., PF

Bingham is a wildcard. He is a boy of 1.8 meters with guard skills and a wingspan of 7-4 and this year he was not close to Big Ten basketball. It must become stronger and faster. That is obvious. But he plays the position that is best to grasp. Because of its length, it can protect smaller, faster players. His natural outdoor shot fits what MSU wants from its power forward position offensive – in transition and on pick-and-pops off ball screens. However, it must be sturdy enough to set those screens for Winston.

Xavier Tillman, Jr., C

Tillman has become an elite defender and the captain of MSU & # 39; s defense. He is just as much a player as you will find and a great communicator. He will never be flashy at the offensive end, but there is still a level that he can reach, both in the post and with his external shot – which I think you will see next season. If Nick Ward makes a surprising return for his final year, Tillman would still start. He would easily fit in with the attack, next to Ward. The problem is that MSU needs Tillman as defense centers to maximize its skills on ball screens.


Gabe Brown, So., G / F:

Brown's role is increasing, but so is the competition for the minutes on his positions, with the return of Langford and Kyle Ahrens and the addition of freshman Rocket Watts. Brown has the physical tools to be an NBA player. He is a born shooter and a tall and sad athlete who must be a strong defender. However, this is a big off-season for him, in terms of strength and consistency and soaking in everything MSU does schematically on both sides of the court.

Kyle Ahrens, Sr., F

If the body of Ahrens gives him a healthy season, he will be a great help to next year's team. His shooting, vertical athletics and overall savvy make him valuable. He creates a baseline for younger players, a level that Brown in particular must meet. If Ahrens is healthy, he is in rotation, regardless of which development occurs with players around him. Izzo fully trusts Ahrens and feels gratitude towards him.

Rocket Watts, Fr., G

Watts is the most intriguing recruit to join MSU since Miles Bridges. The Spartans have not had a guard with this kind of ability to score and shoot the bullet in a long time. He will only just be freshman. But he is a top 30 recruit with a number of scary powers. He will play. The question is how much and in which position. He is a combo guard who is able to make the point. And given the scarcity of available minutes at shootings and small forward movements, there is a good chance that he will get a few of his minutes by backing up Winston.

Thomas Kithier, So., PF / C

Kithier was the surprise of last season for MSU. He arrived as the fifth wheel of his recruitment class and eventually became an essential part. He turned out to be calm with the ball in traffic and unaffected by great moments. He is solid in the worst case. The question that now lies with Kithier is his ceiling. What kind of player can be? Can he defend both interior positions at a high level? Can he stretch the defense with his shot? He will receive consistent minutes in the following minutes. More of them if Nick Ward doesn't return.

Foster Loyer, So., PG

Loyer makes a decision: is he making it better, is he getting stronger and is he trying to become a quality Big Ten Point guard amid constant competition (Rocket Watts coming season, Jalen Terry a year later)? Or does he decide to go somewhere where it becomes easier to play? There is no wrong answer. Prior to Terry's dedication, I thought MSU would consider outgrowing Loyer again next season, leaving him a year away from the pressure of games to focus on his body and game and be ready to play a part. when Winston is ready. I still think that makes sense.

Malik Hall, Fr., F

On 6-foot-7, Hall can play a forward spot, but due to the difference in the position of the wings and the force forward in MSU & # 39; s attack, I doubt that you will see that MSU is trying to use it during its freshman season at both positions. More likely he learns the 4-spot, where there are more minutes than fighting with Aaron Henry, Gabe Brown and Kyle Ahrens for playing time on the wing. Hall brings a set of skills to the 4 that matches how MSU uses the position. He can put the ball on the deck, has a nice touch around the edge and can shoot at a certain distance.

Julius Marble, Fr. PF / C

MSU & # 39; s coaches rank high on Marble, even though he was not an announced recruit. He is a tough, strong boy of 6-foot-8 who has the talent and the athletic ability to immediately contribute. He will have to defeat Kithier to earn regular minutes.


Nick Ward, Sr., C

If Ward goes through NBA training again and does not hear what he likes, he will have to decide whether a higher season at MSU makes sense. The hand injury gives him a feeling when pride is a problem. I don't think he can return to his role as prime minister at MSU, although he would probably be a starter alongside Xavier Tillman. I'm also not sure if coming back for another year would be a big job for his NBA exchange inventory. That said, he started to show some consistency and variation with his face-up sweater before the injury and defended himself at a relatively high level. If he can continue to recreate his body and come back to show that he can stretch defense weapons, there may be value in another year in East Lansing.


Braden Burke, Jr., C

A transfer from low-major Robert Morris in Pittsburgh, Burke has yet to show that he can contribute at the Big Ten level.

Connor George, Sr., G

George, from Okemos, has spent the past two seasons at the edge of the game rotation used in emergency situations. His dream is to be a regular player in the playgroup. The chances for this are long, given the abundance of wings and guards on the MSU roster.

Jack Hoiberg, So, G

Hoiberg, son of the new Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg, could play for his father, but there are no indications that he is leaving.

Brock Washington, So. G

Washington, who played in Southfield Christian, could one day crack the rotation. It won't be this coming season.

RELATED: Couch: 3 quick takes against the last four losses from Michigan State to Texas Tech – and what the future offers

RELATED: Seniors Matt McQuaid and Kenny Goins are & # 39; examples & # 39; of what fans loved about this MSU team

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Contact Graham Couch at Follow him on Twitter @Graham_Couch.