Despite losing Cassius Winston to graduation and potentially more talent to the NBA, Michigan State Basketball should still be a top contender for their fourth straight Big Ten title.
Michigan State Basketball fans were left with a feeling of what could have been as the 2019-2020 college basketball season was cut short to the coronavirus pandemic. While the Spartans (22-9 overall, 14-6 Big Ten) did not necessarily live up to their preseason #1 ranking, they ended the season strong, winning five in a row and were in great position for a top-three seed in the NCAA Tournament. In a wide-open season, Michigan State arguably had as good of a shot as anyone to take home the title.
Alas, that did not happen, and the Spartans must shift their focus to the upcoming 2020-2021 season. Cassius Winston, who will go down as one of the best Spartans of all time, is gone after a decorated four-year career in East Lansing. All-Big Ten big man Xavier Tillman may follow suit after two years in Spartan green. Tillman, who has been in East Lansing for team workouts, has a tough call to make, as he could very well be a first-round pick in this October’s draft.
Rising junior forward Aaron Henry is also testing the NBA Draft waters. After putting up a healthy line of 10 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game, Henry is rightfully gaining NBA interest. However, I do not expect him to be a first-round pick, and coming back to school would help improve his draft stock.
Holes in the roster will need to be filled for Michigan State, but if anyone can still continue a winning culture without a drop-off it is Tom Izzo. Coach Izzo brings back plenty of star power and experience from last season. Rocket Watts is a player I can see having a major breakout season after an All-Big Ten Freshman campaign. Malik Hall and Gabe Brown are also players who will need to take a big step for the Spartans to remain amongst the nation’s best.
It also appears that star guard Joshua Langford will be back for a fifth year in East Lansing after missing the entire 2019-2020 season with a foot injury. Langford is a huge piece of the puzzle and has been back for Michigan State’s voluntary summer workouts, per WLNS-TV 6 News.
All these returning pieces are huge for Michigan State’s outlook next season, but the athletes that will put on a Spartans jersey for the first time are arguably just as big. Two top-100 prospects and a star sit-out transfer from Marquette are among the newcomers looking to make an immediate impact for Michigan State next season.