Column: MSU basketball program will survive without Parker
Years of effort from Tom Izzo and his staff culminated in one of the most highly anticipated recruiting announcements in MSU basketball history.
When Chicago Simeon High’s Jabari Parker stepped to the podium Thursday, he announced the news Spartan fans had long been dreading.
Parker, a consensus top-3 recruit in the country, will attend Duke next season.
There are few recruits Izzo has spent more time and resources pursuing. He visited Parker as recently as yesterday, but the Spartans and their head coach will have to go back to the drawing board in preparing for 2013.
Parker’s announcement means MSU’s 2013 recruiting class still is without any committed players, and it’s possible the Spartans might not bring in any new recruits next season for the first time in Izzo’s tenure.
This shouldn’t be a cause for panic among MSU basketball fans.
Parker’s decision to attend Duke is a big loss for MSU, there’s simply no other way to put it, but it’s hardly a crippling one.
The Spartans sole graduating senior is center Derrick Nix, and barring something unforeseen, MSU should have enough post players, led by Adreian Payne and Matt Costello to help make up for his absence.
Junior guard Keith Appling has made major strides this season and should continue to do so next year.
Sophomore guard Branden Dawson will be more than a year removed from tearing his anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, and freshman guard Gary Harris will have a year of experience at the collegiate level under his belt.
For the Spartans, the cupboard isn’t close to bare, and the Big Ten’s biggest contenders, such as Indiana, will lose top players to graduation, including Jordan Hulls and Christian Watford, while players such as Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller could leave early for the NBA Draft.
Either way, MSU will be among the Big Ten’s elite next season, but without Parker, the challenge to contend for another national championship will be made even more daunting.
Being spurned by one of the nation’s top players is always a tough pill to swallow, especially when many believed that player could be the missing piece between moving into the elite group of men’s basketball programs with three national championships.
But it’s important to remember MSU’s program is bigger than one player, 11 of 12 players will be returning next season, and the Spartans are in on a number of elite recruits for 2014.
It’s not the ultimate prize fans had dreamt about but, contrary to some doomsday predictions, the world isn’t about to end, at least not for MSU basketball.
Josh Mansour is a men’s basketball reporter at The State News and a history senior. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org