Anyone dedicated enough to follow every twist and turn in the weird world of college basketball recruiting knows how tenuous speculation can be. When rumors start flying, it's easy enough for a fanbase to convince itself this is the year the stars align for their team and the recruiting class that changes the direction of the program is on its way. Pay attention for long enough and you realize things rarely work out that way.
That's why Tom Izzo deserves all the praise coming his way after what he tied up on Saturday. With the commitment of five-star forward Miles Bridges, Michigan State has put together one of the top recruiting classes in the country and possibly the best recruiting class of Izzo's illustrious career.
Bridges, the No. 7 player in the class of 2016 according to ESPN, chose MSU over Kentucky and Indiana during a ceremony in his hometown of Flint, Michigan Saturday afternoon.
Bridges is a special talent. Think of him as a combo forward. He's gone on record saying he wants to play the wing in college, but at 6'7 and 235 pounds, he has the ability to be dominant at the four as well. His strength, versatility and non-stop motor are his greatest assets. We're talking about a player who can bully mostly everyone else on the floor.
Bridges caps off a Michigan State class that was already loaded. It includes five-star wing Josh Langford (No. 17, per ESPN), four-star point guard Cassius Winston (No. 29) and four-star big man Nick Ward (No. 39). Duke will likely finish ahead of MSU in recruiting rankings if it lands No. 1 player Harry Giles (to go with fellow five-stars Jayson Tatum and Frank Jackson, as well as four-star big Javin DeLaurier), but it will be hard for any other team in America to match the incoming talent Izzo now has locked up.
How did Michigan State pull it off? The Flint connection that has been so vital to Izzo over the years certainly paid off. Bridges now follows in the footsteps of Mateen Cleaves, Morris Peterson and Charlie Bell, just to name a few, to jump from Flint to East Lansing. It also didn't hurt that Bridges developed a strong relationship with former Spartan and current NBA champion Draymond Green.
Green just gave MSU its biggest student-athlete donation in school history, and he was pictured with the Spartans' 2016 recruiting class during official visits at a September football game against Oregon. Green was even Facetiming with Bridges from the championship locker room, and got reigning MVP Steph Curry to say hello, too:
Michigan State made a run to the Final Four last season as a No. 7 seed in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year. It was Izzo's seventh Final Four in his 20th season. At this point, there's no question he's a living legend within the sport. Izzo has accomplished more with less so many times before. And now that he might be working with one of the most talented rosters in the country?
The Spartans are a team no one ever wants to see in March, and that will especially be the case in 2016-17. With Bridges in tow, MSU now has a roster where a Final Four run will be an expectation, not an exception.