Bryn Forbes, Andrew Harrison

New addition to Michigan State program granted immediate eligibility

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With guards Keith Appling and Gary Harris and forward Adreian Payne all having moved on, the Michigan State Spartans have some noticeable holes to fill going into the 2014-15 season. The return of players such as forward Branden Dawson and guards Travis Trice and Denzel Valentine will help Tom Izzo moving forward, and on Wednesday the head coach received some good news from the NCAA with regards to guard Bryn Forbes.

Forbes, who played his first two seasons at Cleveland State before deciding to transfer in order to be closer to his family, has been granted immediate eligibility by the NCAA. As a sophomore Forbes averaged 15.6 points and 3.1 rebounds per game and also set a single-season school record with 75 made three-pointers, earning second team All-Horizon League honors.

The addition of Forbes gives Michigan State an experienced player who can knock down perimeter shots, something they can use given the loss of their two best guards from last year’s Elite Eight team.

“This is certainly good news for Bryn,” Izzo said in the release. “Family is very important to Bryn and we are supportive of those obligations. I’d like to thank Jen Smith in our compliance office for all her efforts. Sometimes you look at waiver cases and question the intentions, but if there was ever a case where one seemed to be in order, this is it.

“Bryn is sincere in his desire to be there for his family, and he and I have discussed the work that will be needed to balance that with everything that comes along with being a student-athlete at Michigan State.”

Issues at home, including the health of his sister, impacted Forbes’ decision to transfer with Michigan State being the school he requested permission to speak with as a result. Cleveland State granted the request and in June Forbes made the decision to become a Spartan, rejoining Valentine after the pair won state titles in 2011 and 2012 at Sexton High School (Valentine’s father Carlton is the head coach at Sexton).

“I’m very thankful to the NCAA for allowing me to play this season,” Forbes said in Wednesday’s release. “I also want to thank Coach Waters and the Cleveland State program for being supportive of my desire to return home. My family is extremely important to me and I can’t think of a better situation than being able to play in my hometown.

“This is truly a blessing to me. I’m happy to have this behind me, so that I can focus on balancing basketball, school and family obligations. I just look forward to contributing to the team any way I can.”

As good as they’ve been, No. 3 Michigan State has yet to play their best

Bryn Forbes, Ryan Fazekas
Associated Press
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Sunday night’s Wooden Legacy title game matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence was billed as a matchup of the nation’s two best players, and rightfully so. Michigan State senior Denzel Valentine (17 points, six rebounds, five assists), who already has two triple-doubles to his credit this season, and Providence redshirt junior Kris Dunn (21 points, five rebounds, seven assists) have more than lived up to the preseason expectations and more of the same was expected in Anaheim.

And while both had their moments, it was Michigan State’s supporting cast that made the difference in their 77-64 victory. The scary thing for future opponents on Michigan State’s schedule is that Tom Izzo’s team is nowhere near being a finished product.

With Valentine dealing with first-half foul trouble Bryn Forbes stepped up, scoring 13 of his 18 points to help the Spartans take a two-point lead into the half. As for the 11-0 run that Michigan State produced to take control of the game late, a host of players stepped forward in regards to scoring, rebounding and defending.

Freshmen Deyonta Davis and Matt McQuaid combined to score nine points over the final 5:32, with transfer guard Eron Harris adding six of his 12 points during that stretch. The Spartans outscored the Friars, who aren’t as deep, 22-7 during that stretch to close out the game, hunting for quality shots and hitting the offensive glass while making things difficult for Providence on the other end of the floor.

The end result was a final margin that does not indicate just how close the game was. While Providence seemed to run out of steam Michigan State received contributions from multiple players, which is undoubtedly a good sign for this group moving forward.

The Spartans will return the currently injured Gavin Schilling later this season, giving them another big man alongside Davis, Matt Costello and Colby Wollenman. He was a player they missed Sunday night, as he can defend opposing big men both in the post and on the perimeter. His absence was a main reason Michigan State didn’t have an answer for Providence’s Ben Bentil (20 points, seven rebounds) defensively.

The key for this group is going to end up being role definition, which is especially true in the case of Harris. A transfer from West Virginia, Harris came to East Lansing with the reputation of being a big time scorer. He’s struggled through the first two weeks of the season, but he got on a roll on Sunday night, finishing with 12 points, three boards and three assists. He showed he’s capable of doing a variety of things on the perimeter, and fitting into a “Swiss army knife” kind of role would make Michigan State that much more dangerous.

There’s no denying that Michigan State has been one of the nation’s best teams thus far.

But there’s also no denying that the Spartans have yet to hit their ceiling, which is definitely a positive moving forward.

Wichita State’s Anton Grady returns home with team

AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.
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Wichita State forward Anton Grady was released from a hospital in Orlando on Sunday afternoon in time to return home with his Shocker teammates.

Grady suffered a spinal corn concussion on Friday when he collided head-first with an Alabama defender, snapping his head sharply to the side. He lay on the court motionless for 10 minutes after the injury and was taken off the floor on a stretcher.

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“I want to send out a big thank you to Shocker Nation and all of my friends and family for of the love and encouragement that I have received the past few days,” Grady said in a statement on Sunday morning. “I’ve been reading your tweets and posts and appreciate every last one of them. I have a lot of work to do to get back on the court, but with the help of such a great support system, I’m ready for the challenge.”

By Friday night, Grady had feeling in all of his extremities, but he has a long road of rehab ahead of him.