Denzel Valentine has been going to MSU basketball games ever since he was 3 years old. Next year, the four-star recruit from Lansing Sexton, will make the jump to play college basketball for the same school both his parents attended, MSU.
Valentine’s father and Lansing Sexton coach, Carlton, played at MSU from ’85-’88 under then assistant coach Tom Izzo.“It’ll be fun being in (the same) environment I have been in for my whole life,” Valentine said. Valentine decided on MSU almost immediately after being offered by a scholarship.
“As soon as MSU through that offer out I knew it was where I wanted to go,” Valentine said. “My dad played there and like I said I’m a hometown kid. It’s just the right place for me.”
Being able to play for Izzo is another big reason Valentine decided MSU over schools such as Michigan, Oakland, and Georgetown.
“He’s a really good coach, he’s had a lot of good players, and he’s won a lot,” Valentine said. “Playing for someone of that caliber and that resume is pretty special.”
Valentine is a member of the 2012 recruiting class that ranks No.5 on ESPN.com behind Arizona, Kentucky, Texas and North Carolina. The class includes the No. 1 shooting guard in the country according to ESPN.com, five-star Gary Harris, and fellow four-star recruits Matt Costello and Kenny Kaminski.
“Denzel brings to us the ability to do a lot of different things,” said Izzo, according to SpartanMag.com. “His versatility is his strongest suit. He can actually play some point, he can play the two, and he can play the three.
“At 6-5 or 6-6 he can guard a variety of people. He has great body strength. He has a tremendous basketball IQ. As his shooting continues to improve, and his defense has to improve like all freshmen, I think he too has a chance to be a very solid performer here at Michigan State. With his family background, he is another guy that has a passion to be here.”
Valentine doesn’t mind what role he is given as long as he can be handling the ball and setting his teammates up to do well.
“(I just want to be) out on the perimeter handling the ball,” Valentine said. “Anytime in college, just giving me the ball and setting my teammates up (to do well) is fine with me.”
Like Izzo, Coach Valentine also sees places for improvement before his son gets a ton of minutes at MSU.
“(He needs to) keep getting better with his decision making,” he said. “Make sure he gets better on defense, communicating and helping his teammates, he’ll have to get better at.”
Before Valentine steps on campus, however, his team still has half their season left. Sexton sits at No.1 in Class B and is searching for a second consecutive state championship, and a third appearance in the finals in as many years.