Michigan State recruiting: Tom Izzo on Thomas Kithier controversy, Spartans in Jordan Allen’s top 5

On the banks of the Red Cedar, recruiting never stops. We’re here every step of the way to keep you informed with our  daily notebook. Recruiting questions? Comment below or direct them to  lucas.srodulski@coxinc.com, and we’ll do our best to get them answered.

Tom Izzo sounds off on Thomas Kithier controversy

It’s been four days since the Michigan High School Athletic Association ruled Thomas Kithier ineligible for his senior basketball season at Clarkston (Mich.) High. The conversation continues.

On Monday it was Michigan State coach Tom Izzo who spoke up about the 6-foot-8 forward who is signed to play for him next season. A former Macomb (Mich.) Dakota student, Kithier moved to Clarkston, where he was expected to play alongside his future teammate, 4-star Spartans signee Foster Loyer.

The MHSAA instead ruled Kithier ineligible for the entire season after an appeal, citing public comments about playing with Loyer that indicated his move to Clarkston was athletically motivated. The two had played together in the summer for AAU powerhouse All-Ohio Red.

michigan state-recruiting-thomas kithier
Thomas Kithier (center) was flanked by his parents when he signed with Michigan State on Nov. 8 at Clarkston (Mich.) High School. (Luke Srodulski/Land of 10)

Izzo admittedly doesn’t know all the details of the controversy, but he certainly wasn’t thrilled about it.

“I’m trying to figure [it] out,” he said, adding that he has not spoken extensively with the Kithier family. “I am not crazy about the ruling that I’ve heard. I think we’re archaic in our thinking on this. I think one way or another, this is going to bring some changes to how we look at it from the Michigan High School Athletic Assocation part.”

Izzo has been outspoken in his displeasure with top prospects leaving Michigan to finish their high school careers. His team’s star sophomore, Miles Bridges, transferred from Flint (Mich.) Southwestern to Huntington (W.Va.) Prep after his freshman season. The state’s transfer rules, among other regulations, have pushed out top talent.

Kithier chose to transfer due to what Izzo called “extenuating circumstances.” And when he did, Izzo stepped in.

“I feel partly at blame because I think Thomas was gonna leave there,” he said. “I think he was gonna go to a prep school. I’m not as crazy about that. I hate when the kids from the state of Michigan are all leaving because of my love for the state.”

He asked Kithier whether the 3-star forward was certain about the move. Kithier eventually ended up at Clarkston, coached by Dan Fife, father of Michigan State assistant coach Dane Fife.

Izzo recruited (and missed on) both Dane and his brother Dugan and knows Dan well. While the MHSAA did not cite any wrongdoing by the eldest Fife in its decision, Izzo felt compelled to stand up for him anyway.

“Dan Fife had zero — zero — to do with this,” Izzo said. “And early on, his name was getting dragged through like he’s a recruit.”

Izzo added that he “can’t believe” that a high school student who moves to a new district wouldn’t be eligible to play. He brought up the possibility of Kithier enrolling early at Michigan State, but he called it a bad situation because the high school experiences that would eliminate. For that reason, he said, he doesn’t like the rules that allow college football recruits to enroll early.

It doesn’t seem like Kithier has many options, which leaves him in a difficult spot. For the first two games of the season, he could be seen on the Clarkston sideline in a jumpsuit, cheering on his teammates as they look to defend their state championship. But Izzo said it shouldn’t have to be that way.

“I think we have to find a way to do a better job with the rules to make it so there are rules, but there are also adjustments to the rules that will take place in the future,” he said. “I hope it doesn’t cost [Kithier], but I just don’t know enough about all of it because I didn’t think it would come to this.”

Jordan Allen puts Spartans in top 5 after visit

La’Darius Jefferson’s commitment to Michigan State on Saturday gave the Spartans 20 football pledges in their 2018 class. What’s next?

Only a few spots remain, and Michigan State seems intent on getting a defensive lineman, whether he’s an edge rusher or a stout tackle. Over the weekend, one of the Spartans’ official visitors was the former: City College of San Francisco defensive end Jordan Allen.

The 3-star prospect starred as a freshman for CCSF, finishing with 27 tackles and 4.5 sacks on the season. Michigan State took notice and extended an offer to the 6-5, 240-pound standout on Nov. 20. Just a few weeks later, the California native was taking in the sights on campus during a snowy weekend in December.

But that didn’t stop Allen from including Michigan State in his top five alongside Arizona State, Colorado, Nebraska and TCU. In doing so, he indicated he would not make an announcement until Dec. 20, the same day he plans to sign his letter of intent.

Arizona State’s offer came before the Sun Devils fired coach Todd Graham, which seems to make them a long shot. TCU is the favorite for Allen’s commitment in the 247Sports Crystal Ball, taking three of the four picks. The other went to Utah, which wasn’t included on the list.

Michigan State has three defensive linemen committed to its 2018 class: Parks Gissinger, Jacob Slade and Zach Slade. All three were on campus over the weekend.

Michigan State basketball signee stat tracker

These updates will be coming to you much more frequently than football stats did, as most prep basketball teams play multiple games each week. Several Spartans signees have been in action over the last few days. Here’s how they did.

  • Grand Rapids (Mich.) Catholic Central forward Marcus Bingham Jr. scored 33 points and grabbed 21 rebounds in a season-opening 90-84 win at Detroit Country Day on Saturday, per Prep Hoops Michigan.
  • Ben Davis (Indianapolis) wing Aaron Henry had a massive day on Saturday in games against Terre Haute (Ind.) North Vigo and South Vigo. He posted 24 points, 11 rebounds and 4 steals in a 63-50 win over North and 31 points, 10 rebounds and 4 steals in 52-42 win over South, per MaxPreps.
  • Clarkston (Mich.) point guard Foster Loyer scored 32 points to lead the Wolves to a hard-fought 72-67 win over Flint (Mich.) Carman-Ainsworth on Thursday, according to ESPN 100.9 FM. Carman-Ainsworth’s Michael Fletcher, who holds a Michigan State football offer, scored 17.
  • Belleville (Mich.) surprisingly fell to 0-2 with a 65-48 loss to Detroit Edison on Saturday, but Tigers wing Gabe Brown scored 17 points and grabbed 8 rebounds, per Michigan Preps reporter Branden Hunter.

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

The post Michigan State recruiting: Tom Izzo on Thomas Kithier controversy, Spartans in Jordan Allen’s top 5 appeared first on Land of 10.

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