Michigan State needed Adreian Payne to return to school if they were going to make a run at a national title.
With Derrick Nix graduating and with their only incoming front court player being Gavin Schilling — who isn’t exactly the second coming of Greg Oden — Tom Izzo’s team was going to have a massive question mark along their front line had Payne put his name in the NBA Draft.
But he decided to play out his final season in East Lansing, which means that the Spartans immediately became the early favorites to win the Big Ten and arguably the best team in the country outside of the state of Kentucky.
For them to reach that potential, however, a couple of things need to happen.
First of all, Branden Dawson needs to take advantage of finally having an offseason to develop. He’s an athletic specimen, but after spending the whole of last summer recovering from ACL surgery, he needs to put in the effort to become more than just an athlete; he needs to learn to be a basketball player.
The second key for the Spartans is to get Gary Harris healthy. He spent last season dealing with a shoulder injury, and as a result, we, as Izzo put it, “haven’t seen the Gary Harris I recruited yet”. The good news? It looks like Harris is healthy enough to resume offseason workouts. From Diamond Leung over at MLive.com:
Michigan State guard Gary Harris is participating in staff-supervised workouts allowed by the NCAA after dealing with shoulder injuries while capturing Big Ten freshman of the year honors last season.
Harris elected to avoid surgery on his left shoulder after spraining it in November and seeing it nag him throughout the season. Michigan State coach Tom Izzo had said that was “a good decision,” and now he’s seeing the benefits of it as the Spartans prepare for a national title run.
The key, Gary Harris Sr. told The Drive with Jack Ebling, was to simply take some time off, focusing on rest and rehab. Assuming that Harris has gotten his shoulder back to 100%, he still has all summer to become a better basketball player.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.