There's no question that some major talent and leadership will be absent in East Lansing come this winter. After a spectacular run that led to a surprise appearance in the Final Four this past spring, Tom Izzo and the Spartans face the loss of ever important seniors Travis Trice and Branden Dawson to the NBA draft. While it remains without question that the Spartans will be competitive in the Big Ten this season, what type of compensations need to be made without these two on the floor? Here's what Michigan State will be missing this coming year.
Travis Trice, PG
Trice is the prototypical Izzo player. A little heralded recruit out of high school, Trice struggled in his early years, averaging just 4.5 and 4.8 PPG during his freshman and sophomore seasons. It wasn't until his senior year that he truly found his form. Starting at point guard, he led the Spartans in points per game with 15.3, and assists with 5.1. His consistency throughout the year earned him a third team All-Big Ten selection. It was Trice's stellar play in the NCAA tournament that drove MSU all the way to Indy as he averaged 19.0 PPG over the five game stretch.
Replacing Trice will be a tall task, but not one that Michigan State can't handle. Time and time again we've seen Izzo develop strong point guards; Kalin Lucas, Korie Lucious, Keith Appling are just a few. But this time, the Spartans turn to the transfer for help. After sitting out a year due to eligibility constraints, former West Virginia point guard Eron Harris Jr. will lead the Michigan State offense. A prolific scorer, Harris averaged 17.2 PPG while shooting 44.2% from three in 2013-14 with the Mountaineers. While Harris might not bring Trice's leadership, he still will be able to play productive basketball for the next two years.
Branden Dawson, F
Just like his counterpart Trice, Dawson got better and better each year in East Lansing. During his freshman season, he saw solid minutes (20.6 per game), and averaged 8.4 PPG. His sophomore season he upped those numbers to 26.9 minutes and 8.9 PPG playing all 36 contests for the Spartans that year. His junior season bumped him to 28.3 MPG and 11.2 PPG but it was his senior year that generated all the hype. Dawson averaged 11.9 PPG and 9.1 rebounds, leading the Big Ten. Despite being only 6-6, he was able to battle aggressively on the boards and against opposing players. He leaves MSU after being named to second team All-Big Ten and the All-Defensive team Big Ten. He also is the leading shot blocker in Spartans history with 142.
The loss of Dawson means the loss of a highly athletic forward with flexible mobility. MSU thrived off second chance shots in 2014-15, a product of the big man's tenacity on the boards. He was also an essential component to the Spartan fast break, one of the best in the nation. Izzo will likely look to Gavin Schilling and Javon Bess to fill the hole that Dawson leaves. But as we've seen with past losses of Zach Randolph, Draymond Green and Adreian Payne, there's always another big man to be found for the green and white.
Who do you think the biggest loss for the Spartans is this year? Leave a comment down below and I'm sure to respond!