VIDEO: Michigan State’s Miles Bridges puts down two monster alley-oops in return

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Michigan State freshman Miles Bridges returned to action on Wednesday night and he made his presence felt with some monster plays against Rutgers.

After missing seven games and the full month of December, Bridges finished with six points and six rebounds in his return as the Spartans ran past the Scarlet Knights.

(H/t: Big Ten Network)

Michigan State lands five-star 2017 forward Jaren Jackson Jr.

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Michigan State hauled in another important commitment on Thursday morning as five-star forward Jaren Jackson Jr. pledged to the Spartans.

The 6-foot-10, 220-pound Jackson is currently regarded as the No. 15 overall prospect in the Rivals Class of 2017 national rankings. A member of the gold-medal winning USA Basketball U17 World Championship team, Jackson was a breakout national performer on the Nike EYBL this spring with Spiece Indy Heat.

Jackson is the type of versatile forward who can knock down three-pointers but he also has some upside as a defender and rebounder. Not many players his size shoot 39 percent from three-point range and average nearly 2.0 blocks per game like Jackson did on the EYBL this spring and summer.

Michigan State’s Class of 2017 is now underway with Jackson and it gives the Spartans four five-star prospects in the last three classes after Deyonta Davis in 2015 and Miles Bridges and Joshua Langford in 2016. Tom Izzo has done a great job of adjusting his recruiting approach to targeting elite players and he’s been able to reload every year with potential one-and-done players the last few classes.

Jackson is an intriguing long-term prospect because he’s very young for his class (he committed on his 17th birthday today) and has a lot of skills that don’t come together too often in frontcourt players.

Michigan State gets on the board with Class of 2018 big man commitment

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Michigan State landed an in-state target on Thursday night as Class of 2018 big man Thomas Kithier pledged to head coach Tom Izzo.

The 6-foot-8 Kithier is currently regarded as a four-star prospect on Rivals as he comes in as the No. 90 overall prospect in the 2018 national rankings.

Recruiting in-state guys has always been a focal point for Izzo and Kithier comes from Macomb, Michigan. Attending Dakota High School, Kithier is a traditional big man with post moves who is trying to hone his face-up skills and perimeter abilities.

Kithier is Michigan State’s first commitment in the Class of 2018. The Spartans haven’t picked up anyone in the Class of 2017 yet and we’ll likely see both 2017 and 2018 be recruiting classes with plenty of scholarships to work with.

VIDEO: Miles Bridges throws down between-the-legs dunk

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When Miles Bridges made the decision to sign with Michigan State, the Spartans knew that they were getting one of the top prospects in the stacked Class of 2016. And as Bridges has shown during the summer, he’s going to bring some serious excitement to the Breslin Center this winter.

Thursday night at the Moneyball summer league Bridges threw down a between-the-legs dunk…in game action. Bridges had a clear lane with no one between he and the basket, and he took advantage of the situation to give the fans in attendance a show.

Not expecting Bridges to try this during a game this winter (imagine Tom Izzo’s reaction if he did), so getting the opportunity to see this skilled wing do so during the summer is adequate.

College names surface in reports regarding Lakers coaching vacancy

Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie has a word with guard Rodney Purvis (44) during an NCAA college basketball game against Michigan on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015, in Paradise Island, Bahamas. (Brad Horrigan/The Courant via AP)
Brad Horrigan/The Courant via AP
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With some NBA head coaching jobs opening up, it’s that time of year when the names of prominent college basketball head coaches get mentioned for such opportunities. Of course we’ve all become used to the annual rumors involving Kentucky head coach John Calipari, who has yet to move away from one of the top jobs in the sport.

His name is one that has come up in recent reports surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers’ opening, with Connecticut’s Kevin Ollie and Villanova’s Jay Wright among those being mentioned by various outlets as well.

Ollie, who led his alma mater to a national title in his second season at the helm, was mentioned in reports by both Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical and Ramona Shelburne of

Ollie told ESPN’s Andy Katz on Monday that he has had no contact with the Lakers. He said he will always listen if called but it would take “something very special” to pull him away from UConn.

Ollie’s contract, which was signed after he led the Huskies to the national title in 2014, has a clause that would allow him to terminate his contract without penalty “on or after the one-year anniversary” of the departure of either athletic director Warde Manuel or UConn president Susan Herbst. Manuel left UConn in January to take over as athletic director at Michigan (his first official day was March 14), so a departure now would not meet the one-year requirement.

The buyout to leave for an NBA job would be $4 million until May 31, with the buyout amount dropping to $1 million after that date.

The latter report also named Wright, Calipari, Tom Izzo and Roy Williams as names the Lakers could consider for their opening. Wright led Villanova to its second national title earlier this month, and his Wildcats have won the last three Big East regular season titles.

NBA franchises have been more willing to look at successful college coaches in recent years, with Fred Hoiberg and Billy Donovan making the jump to the pros last season. Hoiberg took over in Chicago, but things didn’t go as planned for the Bulls as they missed out on the playoffs for the first time since the 2007-08 season. As for Donovan, he’s running the show in Oklahoma City where the Thunder are up three games to one on the Mavericks.

Both coaches took jobs with (at first glance) the talent needed to be successful, which is a far cry from the jobs Calipari and Rick Pitino took with the Nets and Celtics respectively during the mid-1990’s. Does the Lakers job fit that mold? Having won a total of 38 games in their last two seasons, not to mention needing to fill the hole left by the retirement of Kobe Bryant, one can argue that this would not be an optimal job for a college coach to take.

But with the Lakers being a franchise that’s won 16 titles, the appeal of leading such a storied franchise can’t be denied even with the recent struggles.

Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine tweets support for Buddy Hield

Michigan State's Denzel Valentine (45) reacts on the bench during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Ohio State in the quarterfinals at the Big Ten Conference tournament, Friday, March 11, 2016, in Indianapolis. AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
AP Photo/Michael Conroy

To say that things didn’t go as planned for No. 2 Oklahoma on Saturday would be a major understatement. The Sooners couldn’t get much going offensively and they had an even tougher time defensively as they lost 95-51 to No. 2 Villanova. Of course with social media being what it is today this opened the door for the “crying Jordan” memes, one of which being the head being attached to the body of dancing Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield.

Buddy Hield, who’s won multiple national Player of the Year awards over the last few days, scored just nine points and shot 1-for-8 from three against a Villanova defense geared towards slowing him down. A bad night in the most important game of the season can led to some ignoring the overall body of work, but Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine was quick to remind people of what Hield’s managed to do this season.

Valentine’s been right there with Hield when it comes to the national Player of the Year awards, and with good reason. They’ve been the two best players in college basketball this season, and an off night for either doesn’t change that.

h/t For The Win