The Michigan State Spartans are primed to showcase what could be a stellar follow-up season to last year's surprise run. With do-it-all senior Denzel Valentine leading the way along with senior Matt Costello, sophomores Lourawls Nair Jr. and Marvin Clark Jr., West Virginia transfer Eron Harris and two top-100 freshmen, the Spartans are in good position to replicate their success from a season ago.
Freshmen Deyonta Davis and Matt McQuaid are the two heralded recruits for the 2015 class - and rightfully so. Davis is the perfect fit for head coach Tom Izzo's physical approach, and McQuaid should bring an impressive shooting stroke off the bench. The two aforementioned freshmen look to impact East Lansing in their own respective ways, but Versailles High School (OH) product Kyle Ahrens has the ability to make an impact as a reserve in year one.
Ahrens, like McQuaid, comes into East Lansing as a decorated high school shooter. Ahrens can stroke it from well beyond the college three point line and has the ability to shoot in multiple positions. The 6'5", 205-pound shooting guard shoots most of his threes in a spot up stance. Ahrens is dangerous in fast breaks, as he does a good job at trailing the ball-handler and spotting up along the three point line.
The Ohio native can also shoot off screens and off a couple of power dribbles with either hand. Ahrens does a great job at setting his feet and squaring his shoulders when setting up for a three point attempt. Make no mistake about Ahrens' game - he's not just a three point specialist. Ahrens has the ability to drive and finish with either hand. For a right hander, he's very good at finishing with his off hand in traffic and has the vertical explosiveness to finish above the rim. An underrated facet of Ahrens' skill set is his passing. He has the ability to see over double teams and get the ball to an open man, and even has a knack for hitting the open man in a fast break.
Areas for Improvement
The biggest area for concern is Ahren's foot speed and quickness on the defensive end. Ahrens will be facing a plethora of talented scoring guards in the Big Ten and will need to show the ability to contain them in reserve minutes. Ahrens is capable of finishing with his left hand, but will need to further develop his dribbling ability with his off hand. The ball comes up too high on occasion when driving to his left, and will need to tighten up in order to diversify his offensive abilities.
Ahrens is a very talented shooter and has the ability to produce right away in a reserve role. Minutes could be hard to come by in year one, with Eron Harris expected to dominate the shooting guard spot. Fellow freshman Matt McQuaid could see more time early on off the bench, but there is a chance Ahrens also plays in the back court or even slides over to the small forward position off the bench. He may not come in with as much hype, but look for Kyle Ahrens to develop into a quality role player over time for the Spartans due to his three point shooting prowess and ability to attack the rim.