With the 2015-16 season quickly looming, Michigan State fans - and perhaps its coaching staff - probably didn't expect freshman shooting guard Matt McQuaid to work himself into the conversation for early playing time by the end of October. The first game for the Spartans is now less than two weeks away, and due to the offensive acumen of McQuaid, the chance for early playing time conversation has shifted to how many minutes the freshman will obtain.
The Duncanville, TX native comes to East Lansing as a four-star recruit by majority of scouting services, bringing a prolific shooting stroke that is a key reason as to why he's a candidate to see playing time even with a logjam on the wing.
McQuaid was originally a verbal commit to SMU, but after reopening his recruitment in July 2014, he chose the Spartans in September over offers from SMU, Creighton, Alabama, Gonzaga, Oklahoma, Texas, Wichita State and others. After de-committing from SMU, Creighton was rumored to be the leader for his services. After visiting campus and building a solid rapport with head coach Tom Izzo, the decision was clear to commit to the Spartans.
In the article from The Only Colors, ESPN's college basketball analyst Jeff Goodman labeled McQuaid as "arguably the best shooter in the country." In a 2015 recruiting class that features Kentucky's Jamal Murray, Duke's Luke Kennard and Ohio State's Austin Grandstaff, McQuaid can certainly hold his own in a discussion amongst the top shooters in his senior class.
The argument for McQuaid is compelling, as he possesses the ability to shoot effectively from multiple angles and styles. For one, McQuaid is an excellent catch-and-shoot guard. With the now eligible guard Eron Harris in the fold, defenses will have to respect his dribble drive abilities, which could cause for defenders to crash down on Harris and leave McQuaid open on the perimeter. Those opportunities could be limited at the collegiate level, as he was such a decorated shooter in high school.
Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports had been hearing positive feedback regarding McQuaid's overall offensive capabilities as practices began for the Spartans. His ball-handling abilities make him capable enough to run point if called upon. With the ball in his hands, he can be an effective shooter off the bounce. McQuaid could be an excellent triple threat player.
Perhaps the best facet of McQuaid's shooting abilities is his propensity for coming off screens. The 6'5", 185-pound guard will have plenty of help to get clean looks. Fellow freshman Deyonta Davis, junior Gavin Schilling and senior Matt Costello will provide solid screens and allow for open looks for McQuaid on the perimeter.
The debate going into the season for Michigan State circles was to redshirt either McQuaid or Kyle Ahrens, a freshman from Ohio. Ahrens comes into East Lansing with a more physical profile, but McQuaid's specialty is too hard to ignore. Guards Eron Harris and Lourawls "Tum Tum" Nairn Jr. should love having McQuaid on the floor with them, as it could open up driving lanes and create more isolation possibilities.
The perimeter is crowded for Michigan State, but with an impressive shooting stroke and solid offensive abilities, look for Matt McQuaid to become a valuable asset for the Spartans off the bench in 2015.