Mateen Cleaves: Freshman point guard Lourawls Nairn ‘reminds me of myself’

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By the start of the 2014 NCAA Tournament, Michigan State, though a No. 4 seed, was a trendy pick to win the national championship after the Spartans won the Big Ten Tournament title, showing how good they could be at full strength.

That road to the Final Four was ended in New York by UConn in the Elite 8. Michigan State graduated Keith Appling and Adreian Payne while Gary Harris declared for the draft. Tom Izzo was busy this offseason, building for the future by landing a pair of impact — Eron Harris and Bryn Forbes — to play alongside a fiery freshman point guard, who is already working on bringing a third national title to East Lansing.

Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn, the No. 62 overall recruit in the Class of 2014, according to Rivals, has reached out to former Michigan State standout Mateen Cleaves for advice.

“He was the first recruit to ever ask me how does it feel to win a national championship,” Cleaves told MLive.com. “When I was telling stories you could just see him daydreaming about him having a chance to win it all.”

“He reminds me of myself,” added Cleaves. “Because it’s just a regular open gym game, and you would think it’s the Big Ten championship or an NCAA tournament. He just plays hard, he knows one way.”

Cleaves finished his career with the Spartans as the program’s only three-time All American, was a captain for three seasons and was the Most Outstanding Player at the 2000 Final Four. It’ll be hard for anyone one to produce that sort of success, especially for someone like Nairn, a Bahamas native who turned his attention from sprinting to basketball less than seven years ago.

He’s a work in progress, needing to develop a reliable jump shot while still learning the point guard position. But he’s an energetic player, and with his background in sprinting, the 5-foot-11 floor general will be a nightmare for defenders to stay in front of. The early praise from the likes of Cleaves and Draymond Green is a good sign for a point guard Michigan State will rely on over the next four seasons.

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Utah State denies transfer David Collette a release

David Collette Goodluck Okonoboh
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Utah State has denied former forward David Collette a release, saying that his decision to leave the program two days before the start of the season left them without an adequate way to replace last season’s second-leading scorer and was unduly influenced by tampering from other coaching staffs.

“I think there were a lot of factors in play that, unfortunately, have become a trend in college basketball of schools poaching other schools’ players,” head coach Tim Duryea said in a Nov. 11th release announcing the transfer. “I don’t feel good and don’t like how things transpired.”

But that’s not how Collette, who averaged 12.8 points as a redshirt freshman, said things went down. He says he left the team because he and Duryea did not get along. Duryea was a longtime assistant for former head coach Stew Morrill.

The allegations Collette has made range from worrisome to embarrassingly petty. He told Yahoo! Sports and ESPN that the team was told not to tell anyone about a fight in practice, that the school immediately pulled all his athletic aid and that they went as far as to change his measurements on the team site from 6-foot-10, 235 pounds to 6-foot-8, 220 pounds.

Now trying to keep a practice fight off the media’s radar isn’t a huge issue; they happen more than you think and are a bigger deal as a headline than in the locker room. And if Collette is no longer on the team, he is no longer doing the work required to get that aid. Nothing wrong with that, either.

But changing what he’s listed at on the team site? Refusing to release, which prohibits him from being recruited by other coaching staffs and will force him to pay his own way at his new school for two semesters?

Bitter, petty and unnecessary.

This story is now a headline on three of the biggest sports websites. Pretty soon Jay Bilas will be railing against it on twitter, and probably on a broadcast, too; Utah State plays Duke on Sunday on ESPNU.

This is going to be a wave of negative publicity for a Utah State program that A) doesn’t make many national headlines, and B) might actually be pretty good this year.

Is that really worth getting revenge on some college sophomore that doesn’t like playing for you?