Matt McQuaid

Associated Press

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


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.

Tom Izzo calls Denzel Valentine’s play during foreign tour ‘unbelievable’

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Michigan State wrapped up a 12-day tour of Italy on Monday.

The Spartans’ one-point loss to the senior national team from Georgia sent them back to East Lansing with three straight losses, but Tom Izzo is taking some positives away from the trip abroad.

“Denzel (Valentine), the first three games was unbelievable,” Izzo during an interview The Drive with Jack on WQTX, via Kyle of Austin of “He could have been the MVP of the whole tournament.”

Valentine began the trip with 16 points in a lopsided win over Basket Fiorentina. From there, the competition got much tougher, as the Spartans dropped their second game, 93-75, to the Russian National Team, a team ranked sixth in the FIBA world rankings. In a losing effort, Valentine had a game-high 21 points with five assists in 34 minutes of action.

He followed that performance up with 23 points in a 90-69 loss to the Italian National Team, ranked No. 36 in the world. In four games, the senior wing averaged 17.0 points per game.

The 6-foot-5 Valentine is coming off a junior campaign where he averaged 14.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.3 assits per game. His offseason also included a stint with USA Basketball in the 2015 Pan-Am Games.

Gavin Schilling and freshman Matt McQuaid were also praised by Izzo in the interview. Byrn Forbes scored in double figures three times on the trip, while Tum Tum Nairn recorded 16 assists to six turnovers in the three games against the senior national teams.

Michigan State’s impact transfer guard Eron Harris sat out the trip after his offseason arrest.

Former SMU commit picks Michigan State

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Matt McQuaid, a four-star shooting guard in the Class of 2015, committed to Michigan State on Thursday morning, according to a report from Evan Daniels of

The Duncanville High (Texas) sharpshooter was on the East Lansing campus this past weekend on an official visit. He took an unofficial visit to Michigan State last month, as well.

“I feel like I fit in really good in their system,” McQuaid told Daniels. “When I went down there I learned a lot from the other guys and they always have guys coming back trying to help. Draymond Green and Gary Harris came back. They always have people coming back. There’s tradition there. I liked that and they win.”

The 6-foot-5 sharpshooter had originally committed to SMU, though, that lasted roughly six weeks before he reopened his recruitment. McQuaid picked Michigan State over Creighton, the only other school to receive an official visit from him.

He joins a three-person recruiting class for Tom Izzo, as five-star power forward Deyonta Davis and three-star guard Kyle Aherns had both previously committed to the Spartans. This 2015 group will also include West Virginia transfer Eron Harris, who will sit out this season at Michigan State.

In the Nike EYBL, McQuaid averaged 15.6 points points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game for Team Texas. He also shot 45 percent (46-for-102) from beyond the 3-point line

McQuaid is listed as the No. 71 overall recruit in the Class of 2015 by Rivals.

Mixtape of elite 2015 shooter Matt McQuaid (VIDEO)

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Matt McQuaid is one of the top perimeter shooters in the country and the 6-foot-5 native of Texas is taking some official visits this fall after decommitting from SMU.

Regarded as the No. 71 player in the 2015 class, according to Rivals, McQuaid visited Creighton early in September while Michigan State gets an official visit this weekend.

In 16 EYBL games this spring, McQuaid averaged 15.6 points per game while shooting 49 percent from the field and 45 percent from beyond the arc.

Here’s a mixtape of McQuaid, courtesy of Ball is Life.

Report: 2015 shooting guard Matt McQuaid de-commits from SMU

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It’s been a tough week for the SMU basketball program.

Just days after it was announced that guard Emmanuel Mudiay, the crown jewel of the program’s 2014 recruiting class, would look for somewhere to play professionally (overseas) next season as opposed to attending SMU, head coach Larry Brown and his coaching staff have lost a verbal commitment in the 2015 class. Sunday afternoon four-star shooting guard Matt McQuaid made the decision to reopen his recruitment, with Evan Daniels of reporting the news.

McQuaid is considered by some to be the best perimeter shooter in the Class of 2015, and he performed well at the LeBron James Skills Academy last week in Las Vegas with Brown among the college coaches in attendance. McQuaid’s decision leaves SMU with one verbal commitment in the class, point guard Sedrick Barefield.

McQuaid, who committed to attend SMU back in early May, also held offers from programs such as Alabama, Creighton, Oklahoma and Texas at the time of his commitment. The good news for SMU is that they recently landed a commitment from Virginia Tech transfer Ben Emelogu, and while he isn’t the shooter that McQuaid is Emelogu will be an important addition to the perimeter rotation.

In 2015 the Mustangs will have starter Nic Moore (he’ll be a senior) to go along with Emelogu and Barefield, with Keith Frazier (he’d be a junior) also having eligibility remaining.