The Michigan State Spartans top recruit in the 2021 class, guard Max Christie, is early on this season showing tantalizing talent that lives up to the top-20 ranking. Christie is quickly cementing himself as one of the top freshman on the court so far this season rather than just in the rankings and Big Ten opponents should take note.
Christie has started in all four games for the Spartans thus far. He has been averaging 30.75 minutes per game and 11.5 points. For a freshman at Michigan State, those numbers are nothing to scoff at. Christie had an arguably quiet debut against Kansas on the stat line and did not feature a game icing three-pointer like former freshman shooter Matt McQuaid did in 2015. However, Christie has shown a consistency that McQuaid lacked.
The biggest point to this argument was Christie’s performance at Butler last week. He scored a career high 18-points in his first true road game of his career, coming at Hinkle Fieldhouse of all places. While Butler may not be contending for a Big East title this year, the Bulldogs home court is still an impressive and historic venue many freshman players might struggle in for a true road debut. However, Christie excelled in this matchup.
Christie lit it up from the floor, going 2-for-4 from deep and 4-for-5 from inside the arc. He even got himself to the free throw line, going 4-for-5 from the charity stripe. Christie even added an assist and a steal to go with his two rebounds against his lone turnover on the game.
Not just his stat line, however, it was also some of Christie’s key plays that helped show he has poise as a freshman. Just inside of two minutes into the second half, Butler’s Ty Groce drained a three that energized a lackluster home crowd silenced by the shooting struggles of the first half. You could see the student section behind MSU’s basket come to life after that shot as the Spartans set up the ensuing offensive possession. Just like that, right in front of the now energized student section, Christie caught the ball open from deep and sunk a three pointer in response. Down sit the students, immediately out of the game once again.
Not long thereafter around the 14-minute mark, Christie again received the ball from a teammate. This time, however, it was no such crowd momentum moment. Instead, this was when Christie had to show he can make his own shot when the Spartans need it. Christie responded by attacking two Butler defenders blocking his way as he drove down the side of the lane and drew contact while forcing up a shot. Christie hit it and pushed the Spartans further into the lead, up 44-28. Again, Butler may not be the strongest teams MSU will face this year, but the assertiveness of its freshman star should not go unnoticed.
Christie kept the scoring alive against Eastern Michigan on Saturday when he again hit double figures. Christie managed 13 points while hitting a career high in field goal attempts (12), assists (3), and steals (2) while also tying his career high in blocks (1) and minutes played (32).
Inside the locker room at Michigan State, it likely doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone on the roster, however. Coach Izzo has sung Christie’s praises since he arrived on campus, even going so far as to compare him to past greats like Gary Harris. Izzo has noted that Christie is a hard worker who makes few mistakes. If that continues into the season and Christie continues to find his footing at the college level, opponents better watch out.