Following the commitment of 5-star combo guard Josh Langford in June, coach Tom Izzo's 2016 recruiting class is off to a terrific start. Factor in center Nick Ward's commitment this April, and the Spartans already have two of the top 50 players in the class locked up. Although it's early and a lot can (and likely will) change, Michigan State's 2016 class is currently ranked fourth in 247Sports composite team ranking.
Langford chose the Spartans over offers from Indiana, Michigan, Duke, and Kentucky among several others. The 247Sports composite ranking lists him as the 15th best player in the country and No. 1 from his home state of Alabama. Langford has great size for a college wing and will be able to overpower a lot of guards. He's adept at driving to the basket and creating contact and has very good ball-handling and passing skills. His versatility and size are invaluable and will allow him to fill-in at the point-guard spot if needed, but he can work off the ball as well. He should be able to defend the 1, 2, or 3 positions with no problems.
His long-range shooting needs to continue to improve for him to take his game to the next level, though. He will mature under Izzo and learn what it takes to get the most out of his potential, but can provide instant offense as soon as he gets on campus.
Other targets on Izzo's 2016 wish list include high-flying small forward Miles Bridges and point guard Cassius Winston, teammates on Detroit's "The Family". They're ranked 18th and 28th respectively in the 247Sports composite, with the duo being a nearly unstoppable combination against top competition on the summer circuit. Bridges said that if he chooses Michigan State or Michigan Winston is going with him, but if he chooses Kentucky or somewhere else the package deal is off.
If MSU landed Cassius Winston & Miles Bridges to go w Josh Langford, that would have to be the most physical & mature perimeter trio ever.— Jerry Meyer (@jerrymeyer247) July 11, 2015
The long shot on the Spartans radar is small forward Josh Jackson, the No. 2 ranked player in the class of 2016. Most have Kansas as the front-runner to land Jackson's services, but Michigan State is still in the mix and he plans to visit East Lansing in early August.
There are limited spots available for all of these players, but anything can happen. The 2016 class may end up being one for the ages at State -- reminiscent of another group of talented freshmen that once played in the Great Lake State -- if you believe this wishful highlight video by Sparty_Designs and retweeted by both Ward and Bridges. In order, it shows Ward, Langford, Bridges, Winston, and Jackson:
— Spartan Designs (@sparty_designs) July 3, 2015
Ward followed up that retweet with:
MSU DREAM TEAM— Nick ward (@best_at_hoopin) July 4, 2015
Michigan State will have a senior-laden squad next season with Denzel Valentine, Bryn Forbes, and Matt Costello all playing out their final years of eligibility.
The losses of those players, along with Travis Trice and Branden Dawson this year, will hurt. That being said, though, the Spartans are loading up with several versatile wings to compete and help fill the void.
We'll assume Lourawls "Tum-Tum" Nairn, Jr. is your starter at PG next year, but there are a host of young players that will be competing to set themselves apart and gain playing time. Marvin Clark, Jr. and Alvin Ellis III will look to increase their roles as sophomores and hopefully we'll get a chance to see what a healthy Javon Bess can do for the Spartans throughout a full season. The Spartans also have two four-star shooting guards coming to East Lansing in the class of 2015: Matt McQuaid and Kyle Ahrens.
The last five players mentioned are all listed between 6'4" and 6'6", which means they could potentially be a nightmare for smaller opponents and have some options to play with different lineups. It'll be interesting to see how the team evolves and the battle for playing time next season. That could have a big impact on who decides to come to Michigan State...as well as help determine who may decide to leave. Regardless, the Spartans are setting themselves up to be in good shape for years to come.