Looking Ahead to Tom Izzo’s Michigan State 2016-2017 Junior Class

F Javon Bess 6’5” 220# (True Junior)Expectations for next season: key reserve.

Started several games early for MSU, but his minutes simply fell off when he couldn’t adjust to the position switch from G to forward. Bess finished the season averaging three points, two rebounds, one assist while playing 11 minutes. Frankly those minutes are inflated when you look at how much he played early. I like Bess, his teammate and coaches like him as well. He is a fine young man, but simply didn’t embrace going from guard to forward. If he does not transfer (and I think the probability of that is high) perhaps he would be better served red shirting to adjust to a new position or a very busy off season prepping for the change. He struggles when asked to be a shooter ruling out minutes on the wing, and making that move to forward never showed any tangible success.

G LouRawls “Tum Tum” Nairn 5’10” 175# (True Junior)Expectations for next season: starter.

Plagued by a horrible case of plantar fasciitis, the Bahamian star suffered playing injured this year. With Denzel Valentine gone, Tum is going to be the fan favorite on this team and he deserves it. One of the fastest players in all of college basketball teams didn’t have to guard him offensively this year because of the injury. If you had seen Tum last summer he wasn’t adequate on offense, he was a threat. The injury ended that. It is fitting that he is the team captain he is the best leader on the roster.

Nairn averaged three points, one rebound and three assists while playing 19 minutes per game as one of the best defenders in the nation. Stats don’t show his true value that comes on defense. I was asked on a radio show prior to the NCAA tournament on what player I could compare him to. I think he is a faster Travis Walton. Walton took some tough criticism from fans, but you saw his career zenith during his senior campaign. I expect on monster season next year from Nairn.

Izzo says of Nairn, “Marv (Marvin Clark) and Tum are good for Tom Izzo. They’re good for my family. They’re good for my kids. They’re good for my program. I mean, they … I can never say I know what you’re going through. I wasn’t brought up with a silver spoon. I didn’t worldly things up there but I can never say I know what you’re going through. I know what you’ve been through. And I think that’s good. I think that’s good, not for them, but it’s good to have people like that around you. Tum appreciates every day he’s even alive. I mean, I’ve never seen a guy happier. ‘Coach, you need me for three minutes. I’ll play three minutes.’ I said ‘What, you’re not worried about your scoring average getting screwed up?’ You can joke with him.”

F Marvin Clark 6’6” 230# (True Junior)Expectations for next season: compete for starter/key reserve.

Clark is a very good shooter and a good rebounder. He can struggle on defense, but not because of effort. I mentioned before when talking about Gavin Schilling the jump Matt Costello made from his junior to senior year. Despite his surly appearance, Clark is one of the kindest and most genuine people you have ever met. He is a warm, kind gentleman that any man would be proud to call his son.

I will not write him off and neither should you. This team is going to be loaded next year. If he puts in a big time summer of work, he should compete for a starter’s job or at least a key reserve role. If he has a bad summer minutes could be difficult to find next year.

Izzo says of Clark, “He’s almost been through more in some ways but not quite as level headed as, and so it was more frustrating for him. The injury, the coming back, picking things up was a little harder for him, but it’s been fun too, to you know, it started, we put him on the scout team. And every time I put a guy on the scout team, got him to play more in practice, maybe he got some confidence, maybe he had to learn things because you learn a new offense every two days, three days and it seemed to help him and then he got his break like everybody gets in the world. He got a break when Kenny (Goins) went down. And right now, he’s playing with a lot more energy. He’s getting some offensive rebounds. I feel he can guard people. We still have some issues with our guys, where if a team plays small or plays big, you know, we’ll miss Kenny a little bit because he was kind of in between. But Marvin Clark is good for any place to have. He’s an unbelievable kid. I wouldn’t say he was the best student coming in. He’s done an unbelievable job in school. He has done what you tell people. He has gotten a chance and he’s making the best of it. Whether that’s going to turn out to what kind of player he is, I don’t know, but I like his chances.”

G Greg Roy 6’3” 200# (True Junior)Expectations for next season: Role player.

Roy is a fan favorite. He is a sincere, genuine and wonderful young person. A guy that didn’t even get his name on a jersey early in the year and instead of a locker he had a cubby hole. He never complained, worked his butt off in practice and simply loved and appreciated the experience of being a Spartan. His jersey may never hang from the rafters, but he is the textbook definition of a Spartan and his teammates love him. I mentioned him because he earned it.