At one time it was three, then, once Caleb Swanigan committed, it grew to four. Then Swanigan decommitted, and Tom Izzo’s 2015 recruiting class—perhaps one of his best and one that was going to complement another run to the Final Four—shrank back to three: Deyonta Davis, Matt McQuaid and Kyle Ahrens.
"It was kind of devastating for us, but we’re not going to let it affect us at all," said Ahrens, a 6’6", 200-pound 3-star shooting guard. "I mean, once we play him, we’re going to go at him just like anybody else. It’s his decision. We respect his decision. But we’re going to come together even better."
Despite the departure of the 6’8", 265-pound 5-star big, all is not lost for the Spartans’ 2015 class, which is ranked No. 18 nationally and No. 3 in the Big Ten, per 247Sports. If nothing else, Swanigan’s last-second switch will only intensify future Purdue-Michigan State matchups.
"Yeah, I can see that," Ahrens said with a laugh.
Team chemistry is important, especially for freshmen entering college. They’ve been texting for months, but now that they’re on campus, Ahrens, McQuaid and Davis can begin to take the next steps in team development. They’re intent on being a close-knit group.
"We’re just getting to know each other really well," Ahrens said. "We’re excited to see each other and excited to spend the next four years together."
The future has arrived in East Lansing, and Izzo has an upcoming class that's worthy of hype, with or without Swanigan. Ahrens said that winning the Big Ten and making a deep run into March, and maybe into April, are of the highest priorities.
His classmates feel the same way, and they'll join a join a Denzel Valentine-led team that's on the same page.
Kyle Ahrens: Versailles HS (Versailles, Ohio); 3-star rating, No. 47 SG, No. 159 overall
Analysis: At nearly 6’6" and 200 pounds, Ahrens has college-ready size. He’s sharpened just about every area of his game. From top to bottom, defensively, offensively and in everything between, those early-morning—and often two-hour long—workout sessions with his father have truly paid dividends.
"I give him credit for developing me," Ahrens said of his dad.
Ahrens, an excellent spot-shooter, will attack the rim. His lean frame throws off some analysts and onlookers who prefer to think otherwise, but it shouldn’t—he has an edge and continues to move further away from the broken leg he suffered this past year. The prior leg injury concerns some people. However, worrying about his willingness to play a physical brand would be a waste of time on your end, so don’t do it.
Potential: A very likely four-year staple for Izzo, Ahrens seems to be in line for a classically productive career in East Lansing—you know, the usual for guys who stick around: Final Four run, maybe an All-Big Ten selection, some big game-defining shots.
Poised, mature and focused, Ahrens should fit nicely into Izzo’s system and prove to be quality selection.
Matt McQuaid: Duncanville HS (Duncanville, Texas); 4-star rating, No. 21 SG, No. 68 overall
Analysis: Already compared to former Michigan star Nik Stauksas and Golden State Warriors star Klay Thompson, McQuaid is a great example of a run-and-gun shooting guard who can create his own opportunities with ease. At 6’5", he has the height. But at 175 pounds, he’s on the light side. Weight will come with age, training and diet. He certainly won’t be the only skinny kid hitting the collegiate ranks this year, nor will he be the last.
Potential: A lethal left hand and great ambidextrous passing make him excitement waiting to happen. Quick with respectable floor vision and decision-making skills, McQuaid should prove to be a No. 1 scoring option for Michigan State.
By virtue of circumstances, he’ll be needed sooner than later.
A tandem of McQuaid and Ahrens—factored in with existing players such as Tum-Tum Nairn, Eron Harris and Bryn Forbes—should become a regularly productive thing for Izzo, who has done wonders with several sets of guards.
Deyonta Davis: Muskegon HS (Muskegon, Mich); 4-star rating, No. 8 PF, No. 26 overall
Analysis: Adreian Payne. That’s the goal for Davis, who, at 6’8" and 205 pounds, somewhat physically resembles the freshman version of A.P.
As his four-year career progressed, Payne contributed much more than that of a traditional power forward. During his junior and senior years, Payne, who had three previous attempts, was given the green light to shoot from the perimeter. One-hundred and forty-nine 3-point attempts later, that proved to be a great idea. In this day and age, having a big who can pop from long range is always a plus.
Again, that’ll be the goal with Davis, who had a fruitful prep career as a dominant dump-in option. Blocking shots and owning the baseline were also trademarks of his game while at Muskegon. There is more to him than that, though, and he'll get the chance to show of his floor vision and raw instincts once he gets comfortable in college.
Potential: Maybe a three-year player? Two years if he just goes nuts from Day 1. Izzo took the slow approach with Payne, but pushing Davis from the start may be the best idea. Michigan State is thin up front, and Gavin Schilling and Matt Costello can’t do it all. Despite having Big Ten-leading rebounding numbers in 2014-15, the Spartans are far from robust on the boards. They lack athleticism and energy. Davis should replenish that well.
But they also lack power. Davis isn't yet that type of athlete.
Having Swanigan would have helped in that regard.
But an inside-outside Davis may compensate for the loss. There are roles to fill and a list of to-dos for the Spartans, but luckily for Izzo, he has a class—maybe one that’s more eager than usual—ready to get on the court and assist in winning games this season.
"I’m really excited. I’m ready to get to work with my new teammates and be coached non-stop. I’m just ready to get up and there and hoping to make a difference—getting everyone better," Ahrens said.
Follow Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81