May 31, 2012

Izzo provides updates on Dawson, Nix

EAST LANSING - Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo brought Spartan fans up to speed on the recovery of Branden Dawson, the progress of Derrick Nix while also making a stand for in-state pro coaches during a guest radio appearance on The Huge Show, Thursday.

Izzo indicated that Dawson remains ahead of schedule in his recovery from a torn ACL knee injury sustained in early March on the last day of the regular season.

"Recovery is going great and that's exciting," Izzo told Bill "Huge" Simonson, host of the daily sports radio show, based in Grand Rapids. "He has recovered about as well as any athlete I've ever seen.

"If you looked at him right now, you would say, 'What's wrong with him? There's nothing wrong with him.' The problem is the rehab process is long. It is going to be a couple of months yet before he can really do anything in basketball. He is starting to shoot free throws now."

Dawson, a 6-foot-6 forward from Gary, Ind., ranked second on the team in rebounding (4.5), fourth in scoring (8.4 points per game) and first in field goal percentage (.577) while starting 31 of 31 games during his freshman year for the Big Ten champion Spartans.

"The other guys are getting stronger," Izzo said. "Weights (the weight room) is where they need to be and they are making progress there.

"It's been a good off-season so far. I'm looking forward to getting the freshmen in, in three weeks or see where that takes us."

Freshmen Set To Check In

Michigan State's incoming four-man freshman class is finishing up high school graduation, and planning to enroll early at MSU, Izzo said.

"They will be here for the second semester of summer school," Izzo said. "They come in at the end of June and we'll get a chance to see them a lot."

That includes Denzel Valentine, Michigan Mr. Basketball Matt Costello, Kenny Kaminsky and McDonald's All-American Gary Harris. The class is ranked No. 13 in the nation by, despite strong belief in East Lansing that No. 83-ranked Costello and No. 81-ranked Valentine are undervalued in the system. Time will tell on that one.

Time proved to be on Izzo's side in the signing of Draymond Green five years ago. Green was ranked the No. 122 player in the country in 2008, but became a first-team All-American, a Wooden Award finalist and is in line to possibly become a first-round NBA Draft choice later this month.

"I think he is going to be a first-round pick, but you don't ever know in this draft," Izzo said. "There are so many weird things. Trades happen. And he is a unique individual. He's not just a great athlete at 6-9 that they would pick for no reason. He is going to have to go to the right time. But I think he will and I think he will have a good pro career, I really do.

"I have heard (he could get drafted) anywhere from low 20s to 35, somewhere in that area.

"I just spend a half hour with him (Green) in my office. He just got back from Golden State where I guess he had a great workout. He is going to Cleveland, Chicago and Indianapolis. It will help because I have good friends in all of those places, I'll get a better idea of where he's at."

Izzo said former MSU assistant coach Jim Boylen will work Green out for the Pacers. Boylen is an assistant coach with Indianapolis.

  • ARCHIVE: Here is a look back at Green's recruiting page, including a video interview with Jim Comparoni while Green was at Saginaw High.

  • ARCHIVE: Comparoni forecasts Draymond as a mismatch power forward at the Big Ten level as Green goes for 21 and 19 in state championship game. (3/16/08):

    Nix Update

    Izzo was upbeat when asked about the progress of senior-to-be Derrick Nix, who pleaded guilty in April to a misdemeanor charge of impaired driving, and received 24 hours of community service and an $853 fine on May 11.

    When asked if Nix has been "on the straight and narrow" since the arrest and reinstatement into the MSU basketball program, Izzo said: "Yeah. He really has. He is doing pretty well. He's doing pretty well in school. But he has a lot of things he has to do, yet; some by the courts and some by me and hopefully he can be a better person for what he went through. That's what I'm hoping for, and we'll see what happens."

    Baseball Fever

    On Wednesday, Izzo paid a visit to Jenison Fieldhouse, the headquarters of Michigan State baseball, as the MSU baseball team departed for California and the NCAA Baseball Tournament.

    "I went over there to send his team off on Wednesday," Izzo said of MSU baseball coach Jake Boss Jr. "That was fun and exciting. It brought back memories to see a team make it for the first time in a long time. The coach and his dad. It's a pretty exciting time for us at Michigan State, to see somebody make us realize that it is a privilege to be in the tournament, even though it's expected it's fun when you get there the first time."

    More Baseball Fever

    Izzo admitted that he listens to The Huge Show occasionally, and had this question for Simonson: "Why are you guys so hard on Leland? Why do you think it's the coach if the guys don't hit?"

    Izzo is a fan and friend of Detroit Tigers coach Jim Leland, who is a frequent target of criticism of Simonson.

    "You know I say that cause I have to stick up for coaches," Izzo said. "When you're in the off-season and you're away from the media, I just thought I'd bring some controversy up so I'd feel back in the saddle.

    "But more importantly, I like Leland and (Lions coach Jim) Schwartz. I think they're going to be good. I'm pulling for all of these guys."

    The Rest Of It

  • Izzo said several former players have been on campus this spring making progress toward their degrees.

    "For some reason we have a slew of former players coming back and finishing their degrees or working on it," Izzo said. "Ray Weathers, Mateen Cleaves, Raymar Morgan. We have some old school guys and it has been kind of fun to have them around some."

  • Izzo said he expects a pro coach to be selected to succeed Mike Kryzewski as head coach of the United States Olympic Team, after Coach K relinquishes his position following the 2012 Games in London this summer. Izzo has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the job.

    "I think they will go with a pro guy but if some day I get a chance to be a part of it in any way, I would die to be a part of it," Izzo said. "I just think there is just something special about playing for your country that is as special as anything I've done and I've done some pretty neat things.

    "There are so many good coaches that deserve a chance to coach," Izzo said. "I've had a chance to coach in the Goodwill Games and Pan-American Games and I've said this and I mean this: I would be a water boy on the Olympic team. It's just one of the dreams I've had. It's not to be the head coach, it's just to be a part of the Olympics.

    "I think they will go with a pro guy. If a team like San Antonio won it and he kind of retired, I could see a guy like (Gregg) Popovich doing it. Or I really think a guy like Doc Rivers would be a great for that."

  • Izzo said he may attend Saturday's Western Conference Playoff Game on Saturday in Oklahoma City. Izzo has former MSU video managers working for the Oklahoma City Thunder (Paul Rivers) and San Antonio Spurs (Brian Pauga).

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