After playing a total of 13 minutes in Michigan State’s first two games of the season, sophomore guard Brandan Kearney became a more involved figure in the Spartan backcourt rotation.
Kearney played at least 12 minutes in each of the next ten games, including a career-best 29 minutes in Michigan State’s 63-60 win over Louisiana-Lafayette on November 25 (scoring ten points).
But the role that head coach Tom Izzo had in mind for Kearney didn’t mesh with what the sophomore desired, leading him to inform the program of his decision to transfer.
“I’m thankful to Michigan State and the basketball program for the opportunity they gave me,” Kearney said in a statement. “I wish them the best of luck with the rest of their season. I wish my teammates — every single one of them — all the best as individuals and as a team. I just think it’s best for me to get a fresh start and play elsewhere.”
In 13 games this season the Detroit native averaged 2.4 points and 1.5 rebounds per game, playing around 17 minutes per contest, with his field goal (29.7%) and three-point (18.8%) percentages leaving something to be desired.
According to Izzo, Kearney stated during the meeting that he was unhappy with his role and wants more opportunities on the offensive end.
“Maybe he thinks he’s a 3-point shooter, I don’t know. Maybe he thinks he’s somebody else. Usually your role is what you can do, and if he thinks he can do that somewhere else, that what he should do because I don’t want someone here who doesn’t want to be here. I’m not excited about it.”
Seems rather clear that Izzo isn’t too thrilled with this turn of events, but in all honesty the Spartans have the pieces needed to account for Kearney’s departure as they look ahead to the start of Big Ten play.
According to the story Izzo mentioned both Russell Byrd and Travis Trice in regards to who would be given more opportunities to earn minutes, and the Spartans also have freshmen Gary Harris and Denzel Valentine available on the wings.
Could Kearney’s move also mean some more time on the wing for Branden Dawson? That was another possibility broached by Izzo during his press conference, and given the sophomore’s athleticism the Spartans could benefit from him seeing time at the three in situations that have Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne on the floor at the same time.
Whatever Izzo decides to do will be on display Monday, as the Spartans open Big Ten play at No. 11 Minnesota.
Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.