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Thursday, April 17, 2014

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Harris to join Izzo's 2012 recruiting class

The cherry has been placed on top of head coach Tom Izzo’s recruiting class, following the announcement that five-star Gary Harris recruit will commit to MSU — marking what could be one of the best recruiting classes for Izzo to date.

Harris announced he was signing with the men’s basketball team on Wednesday.

Harris is the 25th ranked recruit in the nation, and third rated guard according to Rivals.com.

“I’m going to State,” Harris told Scout.com late Wednesday evening.

The coveted Hamilton Southeastern guard from Fisher, Ind., became the latest in a string of high-profile recruits landed by head coach Tom Izzo, headlining a class which includes Sexton, Mich., guard Denzel Valentine, Bay City, Mich., forward Matt Costello and Medina, Ohio forward Kenny Kaminski.

Harris was drawing interest from Purdue, Indiana and Kentucky. However, just a few days after his official visit, Izzo was able to steal the 6-foot-4 guard away from his native state.

Bay City Western forward Matt Costello (Bay City, Mich.), Medina forward Kenny Kaminski (Medina, Ohio), and Sexton guard Denzel Valentine (Lansing) have already signed national letters of intent to play basketball for head coach Tom Izzo in 2012. Harris’ decision was expected to come later in the week, however Scout.com reported Harris’ commitment last night.

“We’re really excited about our class so far because what we did is we addressed some needs,” Izzo said in a video from MSU Athletic Communications. “And that’s the most important part of recruiting. It’s not only who you get, it’s do the people you get address the needs that you have.”

Costello was the 2011 Gatorade Michigan High School Player of the year and adds size to the Spartan’s roster. The 6-foot-10 forward averaged 19.8 points, 13 rebounds and 3.8 blocks per game as a junior while shooting 53.4 percent from the floor. Costello also broke a Bay City Western record by racking up 19 double-doubles in his career with the team.

“He’s versatile, he can do a lot of things,” Izzo said. “He’s not just a low post player. He’s a pretty good passer, he can step out and shoot the ball some, but he plays hard, and that’s what I love about Matt Costello.”

Kaminski also will be looking to fill the hole left by senior forward Draymond Green, who will be departing after this upcoming season. The 6-foot-8 forward was named second team All-State in Ohio during his junior season, in which he averaged 19.9 points and 10.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.8 blocks per game. Kaminski adds another shooting option for the Spartans and has the ability to stretch defenses across the court.

“As far as a guy that has a skill, he’s got an incredible skill and a great passion to be here and a great passion for the game,” Izzo said about Kaminski.

Izzo also got a legacy player in Valentine, whose father, Carlton Valentine, was a four-year letter winner for the Spartans from 1985 to 1988, when Izzo was an assistant coach under Jud Heathcote. Valentine is a 2011 first-team Class B All-State selection and led Sexton to its first state championship in 51 years last year and averaged 12.7 points, 7.9 rebounds, 8.5 assists, 5.4 steals and 1.1 blocks in his junior season. The 6-foot-6 guard adds a finely-tuned sense of court vision to the Spartan backcourt.

Izzo praised Valentine’s versatility and said the young player could play a variety of positions well.
“At (6-foot-6), he can guard a variety of people,” Izzo said. “He’s got great body strength, tremendous basketball IQ. As his shooting continues to improve, his defense also has to improve like all freshman, (but) I think he too has a chance to be a very solid performer here at Michigan State.”

Harris’ signing somewhat resembles that of another five-star recruit Izzo lured away from the Hoosier state. Last year, now-freshman guard Branden Dawson out of Gary, Ind. was drawing a lot of interest from schools across the nation, including Indiana and Purdue, when Izzo was able to convince him to wear green and white.

Harris averaged 17.6 points, 3.1 assists, 2.6 steals and 4.9 rebounds per game as a junior at Hamilton Southeastern and his defensive skills and shooting range could make an immediate impact for the Spartans next year.

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