Following a text message to his Lincoln High School in Gahanna, Ohio, shooting guard Javon Bess became the second commit in Michigan State’s Class of 2014.
“We got a text from Javon saying, ‘I committed to Michigan State,'” Lincoln athletic director Justin Sanford told Diamond Leung of MLive.com on Monday afternoon following the commitment.
The 6-foot-5 Bess held other offers from Dayton, Kansas State, UMass and Xavier among others. This summer he ran with All Ohio Red in the Nike EYBL. During the summer he averaged 11.5 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.3 steals per game playing alongside Ohio State commit Jae’Sean Tate and Purdue commit Vincent Edwards. He as rated as a three-star commit by Rivals.
“He fits the DNA profile of a Michigan State and Big Ten player,” Lincoln High School head coach Tony Staib told Brian Calloway of the Lansing State Journal on Monday afternoon. “He’s tough, he’s a tremendous rebounding guard, he defends really hard and defends really well. He can guard multiple positions. He’s athletic enough to guard a point guard and he’s big and strong and tough enough to guard a small four. Those things right there I think really fit the profile of a Michigan State basketball player.”
Bess joins Sunrise Christian Academy (Kan.) point guard Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn in the Spartans’ Class of 2014. The 5-foot-10 Nairn committed on Sept. 26. Tom Izzo has two commits that can help make up for the loss of it’s back court if Gary Harris decides to leave following the season. Keith Appling is graduating, and Harris is being projected as a first round pick in this June’s draft. The Spartans 2014 back court could also improve, as Michigan State is still in the running for four-star shooting guard Devin Booker of Moss Point High (Miss.) and five-star guard James Blackmon of Marian High (Ind.).
Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.
After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.
Video credit: Wyoming Athletics
Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.
Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.
Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.
Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.
Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.
But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.