Despite year after year of success, Michigan State doesn't have the wealth of current NBA talent one might expect. Gary Harris and Adreian Payne are both expected to be first round draft picks this yea, but until June 28, the Spartans program boasts just four alumni active in the NBA.
With Payne, a four-year Izzo vet, one expects his maturity and well-developed skill set will allow him to carve out a long-lasting place in the pros.
While Harris spent just two years as a Spartan, he carries the same maturity and polish expected of all Izzo pupils. The 19-year-old is currently projected as a lottery pick and may find himself right back in Michigan, albeit this time suiting up for a floundering franchise in the Motor City.
But, before the young bucks get their well-deserved time in the sun, let's give the current crop of Spartans their due.
Ranked from best to worst, here is how Izzo's former students measure up.
1. Zach Randolph, PF -- Drafted 19th overall by the Portland Trailblazers in 2001
Z-Bo spent just one season at Michigan State. He helped the Spartans to a Final Four appearance, decided the money was too great to pass up, and left East Lansing behind.
Randolph spent two unremarkable seasons on the bench for the infamous "Jail Blazers." But when finally given the chance to produce, produce he did.
Z-Bo leads the league in "awwwws"
In his first full season as a starter Z-Bo averaged 20.1 points and 10.5 rebounds. He was named Most Improved Player for his breakthrough campaign and secured more than enough money to feed his family (see: Sprewell, Latrell) after inking a 6 year, $85 million extension with the Blazers.
Since then Randolph has been as consistent as monthly bills, just in a less depressing way.
His move to Memphis in 2009 repaired a somewhat tarnished image. Since setting up shop in Bluff City, Z-Bo has earned two All-Star appearances and a spot on the All-NBA Third Team in 2011.
The Grizz have been a staple in the Western Conference playoffs since his arrival, routinely playing the role of spoiler or foil to perceived title contenders.
2. Draymond Green, SF -- Drafted 35th overall (Second Round) by the Golden State Warriors in 2012
It seems a little ludicrous to call a season in which a player averaged six points and five rebounds a breakout campaign, but Green proved his worth as a valuable NBA player this year. When someone needed to step up in the biggest spots, it was often Green whose foot came forward first.
In the playoffs the 24-year-old forward averaged over 32 minutes and put up 11.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 1.7 steals per game.
Green turned in the best game of his young career in Game 4 against the Clippers
His greatest asset is his defensive intensity and positional versatility. Green shows no reluctance in guarding Chris Paul or Blake Griffin or LeBron James. His lack of both athleticism and premium size are made up for by excellent footwork, attention to spacing and an immeasurable amount of grit.
Green is rapidly proving his worth as a jack-of-all-trades, and with each passing game the young forward looks more and more like a second round gem plucked from a sea of pebbles.
3. Alan Anderson, SF -- Signed as undrafted free agent by the Charlotte Bobcats in 2005
Anderson went undrafted after a solid, but unspectacular, four year career at Michigan State. He came off the Bobcats bench for two seasons before meandering around in the D-League and overseas for a number of years.
Anderson caught on with the Raptors in 2011 and actually produced two solid campaigns, establishing himself as a decent shooting specialist and solid defensive presence off the bench.
A guy who makes an Alan Anderson defensive breakdown video probably has a lot of time on his hands
He played last season with the Nets, starting 28 games due to various injuries. His role is pretty set as an end of the bench 'D and Three' guy. Anderson has a player option for next season that he is expected to accept.
4. Shannon Brown, SG -- Drafted 25th overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2006
So much talent. So much missed opportunity.
A man with springs in his calves and wings on his heels has just never been able to put it all together. Brown won two rings with the Lakers as a backup, averaging about 15 minutes per game in each run to the finals.
Since the Lakers' last title in 2010 Brown has turned into a drifter, floating on the outskirts of the NBA, hoping to find a true role and a permanent home.
It's no small consolation that, regardless of where Brown ends up, he'll always have the rings. And the dunks.
Keep your head up Shannon, keep your head up.