In last week's recruiting feature for the Michigan State Spartans we focused on the top recruit in the class, Lourawls "Tum Tum" Nairm. Now it is time to take a closer look at the perhaps the more crucial recruit in terms of impact next season, three star Javon Bess from Lincoln High School in Gahanna, Ohio. With Travis Trice's one more year of eligibility, Nairm has the benefit of waiting behind a veteran before being thrown into the fire. Bess has a little different situation as he will likely be asked to play major minutes at the 2 and 3 positions replacing the almost sure to depart Gary Harris. Tom Izzo did an interview back in November about the value of Bess to this program and after watching film here's what I see to look for when Bess steps on campus.
Strengths: Versatility is the word Izzo used to describe Bess. At 6'5" he has the height and length to play and perhaps more importantly, guard multiple positions. He has a strong frame with room to grow and get stronger. Looks very poised on the court and though he isn't an athletic freak, he uses his athleticism well to get into positions that allow him to be successful. Izzo always emphasized the quality of Bess's school basketball program and the coaching he received along with the sturdy family life he hails from. While these traits might not directly correlate to the box score, his leadership and basketball IQ are traits that are sure to excite Izzo. Bess was a late bloomer on the recruiting circle so a three star rating might not reflect the player he is going to become. His ceiling could be higher than scouts envisioned when setting the rankings a few years back.
Weaknesses: Given his size and build Spartan fans would love to see another player in the mold of Gary Harris step foot on the court next season. Unfortunately, Bess doesn't shoot the ball nearly as well as Harris did as a prep and Izzo has acknowledged he could play multiple positions for Michigan State. Like the saying two quarterbacks means no quarterback in football goes, two or three positions usually means no position at all, at least offensively. While his ability to defend and rebound will surely get Bess on the floor, he'll have to improve his consistency from the perimeter to be the full time shooting guard eventually. The other option is to put on more weight and play more of a big wing a la Branden Dawson. The bad news is he's a tweener entering college. The good news is he possesses the talent and is coachable enough to become a productive starter.
Fit: Javon Bess screams four year player and that is precisely what Coach Izzo covets. Two things you can't teach are height/length and raw athletic ability. While Bess isn't off the charts in either, he is more then adequate in both. I see him as more of a 3 as his career progresses. I think he will be a nice complement alongside current guard Alvin Ellis and fellow 2014 recruit Tum Tum Nairm. Should carve out his niche in the Spartan lineup by his sophomore season but never doubt Izzo's ability to get young players to play well earlier then expected in their careers. Especially those he feels confident will stick around for all four years.