As the end of the 2015 calendar year approaches, the coaching staff of the Michigan State Spartans has already secured four top prospects for their 2016 recruiting class. Michigan State currently boasts what is widely considered to be the top 2016 class in the Big Ten Conference and a top three class nationally, but the recruiting work for this class of Spartans is not yet complete.
In fact, Tom Izzo hopes to add the fifth and perhaps what would be the highest impact recruit in 6'7" small forward Josh Jackson. The consensus 5-star recruit is rated as the number one target nationally by multiple recruiting services. Jackson grew up in the Detroit area and currently attends Prolific Prep in Napa, California.
Jackson was in attendance for Michigan State's 99-93 overtime victory over Oakland at the Palace of Auburn Hills on Tuesday. Oakland surged to an early lead over a Spartans team missing Denzel Valentine because of injury, but Michigan State was able to bounce back and take the game in overtime, denying the Golden Grizzlies their first ever win in the series between the two schools.
Following the game, there were rumors that Jackson had narrowed his college list to two schools, Michigan State and Arizona. Jackson's AAU team quickly took to Twitter to dispel those rumors. Jackson is currently scheduled to take an official visit to Kansas on January 22nd. Maryland was in the mix earlier in the recruiting process, but it appears Jackson has narrowed his list to the trio of Michigan State, Arizona, and Kansas.
Jackson is friends with two current members of Michigan State's 2016 recruiting class, Miles Bridges and Cassius Winston. Bridges is a rated as a 5-star combo forward and Winston is a 4-star point guard. Also heading to East Lansing next season are 4-star center Nick Ward and 5-star shooting guard Josh Langford. If Jackson decides to stay in his home state and pick the Spartans, Michigan State's recruiting class would rise to the quantity and quality of talent typically only achieved by Kentucky and Duke.
Michigan State is harvesting the benefits of another Final Four run under Coach Izzo on the recruiting trail, and East Lansing is becoming one of the most desirable destinations in the country for high school basketball recruits. Michigan State's yearly inclusion in the early season Champions Classic event has also been incredibly beneficial to the Spartans' national recruiting profile, giving the team a guaranteed high-profile game versus either Kentucky, Kansas, or Duke.
The 2016-17 season is potentially shaping up to be a very special one for the Tom Izzo era at Michigan State. The 2015-16 edition of the Spartans is still undefeated and currently the top ranked school in the nation. Senior leaders Valentine, Bryn Forbes, and Matt Costello will be moving on after this season, and NBA Draft early entry may account for another departure or two.
Nonetheless, all signs point to a stacked roster in East Lansing next season, especially if Josh Jackson chooses the green hat with a white S in 2016.