Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports reported on Monday afternoon that UNLV transfer forward Ben Carter would be considering six schools - including the Runnin' Rebels - and would be making visits to the other five. The Michigan State Spartans made the cut.
Ben Carter has cut his list to Arizona, ASU, Michigan State, UNLV, Miami, & NC State, sources told @CBSSports. Will visit all five schools.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) April 18, 2016
The 6-9 Carter is a graduate transfer who's immediately eligible to play his final year. The Las Vegas native spent his first two years at Oregon before transferring back to his hometown to play for UNLV. His freshman and sophomore years as a Duck were largely spent on the bench, as Carter averaged no more than 12.7 minutes per game and 2.5 points per game.
This past season at UNLV, Carter was much more productive. He averaged 8.6 points and 6.0 rebounds in his 24.0 minutes of playing time per contest. His field goal percentage of 55.6% was second-best on the Rebels. Carter was also one of the team's best defenders, averaging 1.4 blocks and 1.0 steals per game. This was further evidenced by the fact that UNLV gave up 67.0 points per game in games with Carter and a staggering 86.6 per game without him.
Therein lies the rub. Carter tore his ACL in a Jan. 30 game at home against San Diego State and was out for the remainder of the season. A torn ACL isn't quite what it used to be and - given the list of schools interested in Carter's services - doesn't appear to be a major concern for next season, it still has to be somewhat of a concern for schools recruiting him.
Michigan State doesn't have the option of being particularly choosy at the moment. The Spartans already lost big men Matt Costello and Colby Wollenman to graduation, Deyonta Davis to the NBA, and forwards Marvin Clark Jr. and Javon Bess to the transfer market. Of course, Gavin Schilling does return and Miles Bridges and Nick Ward are expected to be talented freshmen that contribute immediately, so there are some pieces, but MSU needs depth.
Carter would be a great addition for MSU's frontcourt depth. That's not to say he can't - or won't - play, but he's never been a star, often deferred to his more talented teammates at UNLV, and was viewed as a "glue guy". The Spartans could use some of that glue in 2016-17. With a team that will be forced to rely heavily on freshmen talent, a fifth-year man that scores easy buckets, rebounds, and defends would provide a steady hand.
Scholarships are not an issue for Michigan State. They have three open at the moment and adding Carter wouldn't affect the numbers past this upcoming season. Is he the flashiest addition in a transfer market that features hundreds and hundreds of names? No, but the Spartans could certainly do a lot worse and - outside of the injury - you know what to expect with Carter and that's a big guy that can and has competed at a high level.
It's tough to project Michigan State's chances at landing Carter. It's always difficult to understand exactly what a transfer is looking for in a new school. Carter received plenty of playing time at UNLV and would certainly be in line for even more after the Rebels roster was decimated this offseason. It seems highly unlikely that Carter will return to that situation.
Every school in the final six is in need of front court depth, NC State and Arizona State more desperately than the others. MSU and Arizona likely provide the best opportunity for Carter to advance the furthest in his last attempt an NCAA Tournament run. The Wildcats would seem to be the favorite for that reason and that they're close to home, but it's unwise to count out Tom Izzo in a recruiting battle.