Michigan State recruiting: Tom Izzo sounds off on corruption in college basketball recruiting

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Tom Izzo laments state of basketball recruiting

The college basketball world has been sitting on edge waiting for the next domino to fall in the recent FBI investigation into corruption in recruiting.

Five people arrested in the investigation appeared in court on Tuesday:  Auburn assistant Chuck Person, USC assistant Tony Bland, Arizona assistant Emanuel “Book” Richardson, adidas executive Merl Code, and alleged Person accomplice Rashan Michel. Several cryptic reports have indicted that more surprises will come.

If Michigan State coach Tom Izzo is nervous about what’s to come, he didn’t show it. And he doesn’t suspect any other coaches in the state are sweating it out, either.

“To compliment my other coaches in this state, I think our state is sleeping fine,” he said Wednesday. “I think they’re sleeping fine in Ann Arbor [Michigan] and sleeping fine in Detroit [Detroit Mercy and Oakland] and sleeping fine in Mount Pleasant [Central Michigan], over at Western Michigan. I think they’re all sleeping fine.”

Regardless, problems remain. Legendary coach Rick Pitino, who won national championships at Kentucky and Louisville, lost his job at the latter because of allegations of bribes to Louisville recruits and their handlers. Longtime Michigan State target Brian Bowen, who eventually enrolled at Louisville, allegedly took a $100,000 from an adidas executive.

In describing the hubbub in college basketball, Izzo brought up a situation in 2010 where he was suspended for a game after employing someone for a summer camp who was connected with a recruit. He called the violation unintentional.

“It’s a little scary because I don’t think we know what else is going on, you know,” Izzo said. “Hey, I’ve been suspended for a game for — I don’t know. I’m still trying to figure that out. Anyway, I was. Everybody makes mistakes. Everybody does something wrong.”

Izzo pointed to the AAU system as a big part of the problem. Most top prospects play for teams on circuits sponsored by adidas, Nike or Under Armour. That allows representatives of those companies to take an active and often overreaching role in their recruitment.

“When you have a bunch more people touching you, you got a lot more chance for a bunch more problems,” he said. “I think that’s what has disappointed me. I tell every recruit that comes here as a freshman and sophomore, when they come here with their family, my only piece of advice: Don’t let the process ruin you, because we will. I blame myself.

“And keep your group small. Whatever that is, keep it small. You’ve been raised by mom and dad for 17 years, and things are OK. You’ve been raised by mom and grandma, whoever it is. For the most part that’s who is your group. They’ve done a pretty good job because you’re eligible in school and you can become a big-time basketball player. Why all of a sudden do we need 20 other people coming into your world?”

Izzo lamented the amount of pressure put on recruits at a young age. The expectation is so often that they will give up all other sports to focus on basketball.

And it’s starting earlier and earlier. Heck, DePaul gained a commitment from an eighth-grader in August. He will likely enroll in college in five years. Five years.

“I think we’re beating people up at a young age,” Izzo said. “I think the process has to slow down a little bit. I don’t think it’s going to change how good you are. Some of the summer things, in my humble opinion, have to change. Does that mean it’s got to be blown up or not? I don’t know.”

Speaking of basketball recruiting…

Michigan State finds itself in a good spot with the top junior in the 247Sports composite rankings — 5-star University School (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) forward Vernon Carey Jr.

Sure, 2019 prospects won’t sign until more than a year from now, but Carey gave the Spartans an encouraging shoutout in an interview with Scout’s Brian Snow. Asked which teams have been prioritizing him, he named just one.

“Michigan State and that’s pretty much it,” he responded.

The interview came a week after Carey visited Michigan State for the weekend. The 6-foot-9 star has offers from Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, UCLA and more, but the Spartans have stuck out.

In-state football star not far from decision

Four-star Detroit Cass Tech cornerback Kalon Gervin has been on Michigan State’s radar as long as just about anyone in the 2018 class. The Spartans kept up their relationship through his commitment to and de-commitment from Notre Dame. Now they’re in good shape as his recruitment enters the final stretch.

“Decision date coming soon,” Gervin said while listing Michigan State, Florida, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon and Virginia Tech among his finalists. Virginia Tech holds a convincing advantage in the 247Sports Crystal Ball.

Gervin ranks as the 22nd-best cornerback in the nation and the No. 3 prospect in Michigan. His former teammate, freshman offensive lineman Jordan Reid, plays for the Spartans.

Miss any of The Green Room? Check out our archive here.

The post Michigan State recruiting: Tom Izzo sounds off on corruption in college basketball recruiting appeared first on Land of 10.

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