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Thursday, February 9, 2012


Hard to believe that Valentine's Day is just around the corner, as the basketball season turns the corner to head for the home stretch. Beginning next year, Spartans will be able to enjoy a Valentine every day of the season. But back to football for just a moment.

Spartan fans have just completed watching a player recruitment process in which player-ratings services rank the players based on talent levels shown in high school. Most of the attention to these rankings goes to the composite class rankings by school. The sport that just held signing day was Football.

Weasel Nation is thrilled with their incoming football recruits. Many of their players have top ratings, and the class as a whole was ranked by most in the top five nationally. Meanwhile, ourMSU class was ranked outside of the Top 25. While the chUMp class has "more better players" according to the ratings, it also simply has MORE PLAYERS, and that fact plays a key role in the overall class ranking in football recruiting.

Now let's turn back to Basketball. MSU finished with a higher class ranking in basketball recruiting on signing day, but now one service (Scout) has moved the UM class slightly ahead ofSparty. Let's not debate the player rankings, and let's also not get overly excited about class rankings, but let's take a look at one aspect of the class ranking system.

In basketball, the chUMps have one five-star recruit, and two four-star recruits, for a total of three players. The Spartans also have one five-star recruit, but we have three four-star recruits for a total of FOUR highly-ranked players.

In football, the advantage of having 33% more players in the class would vault any team ahead of almost any other team, regardless of individual player ratings. This is similar to MSU signing about 18 players while UM signed about 24 players. The football class ranking system would give a huge rankings edge to a class of 24 over almost any class of 18.

But Scout has moved UM ahead of MSU in the basketball class rankings, despite the presence of 33% more quality players in the group. Let's look a little closer.

ESPN posts a Top 100 Player list throughout every class for every year. All three of the UM recruits are on that list, and three of the MSU recruits are also on the list. The top-ranked player out of those seven will play at the Breslin Center.

So it appears as if Scout is saying that the presence of one player outside of their Top 100 makes our MSU class a little less valuable. That player is Denzel Valentine.

Valentine is the son of former MSU player Carlton Valentine. He was born shortly after his Dad's playing career finished, but he's lived in Spartan Country all of his life. His older brother narrowly missed a scholarship with MSU, instead having a fine college career with Oakland University.

The Valentines took Sexton High School to the State Championship last year, with Carlton as the Coach and Denzel playing point guard as a Junior. Their team is currently 11-1 and ranked #1 in Class B in the State of Michigan.

Coach Valentine has been teaching basketball privately in the area for many years. I watched one of his 10-year-old students finish second out of 400 campers in the free-throw shooting contest at the MSU Basketball camp last year.

I saw Denzel at the Breslin Center for a game in December. He's been attending MSU games all of his life.

Denzel Valentine is a state-champion point-guard with a Coach and former division one player for a Dad, and he's lived in the Breslin-area all of his life dreaming of the chance to wear green and white in college. I don't think there are enough "stars" to put on that player going into that situation.

Just as we watch the chUMps win their "September Heismans", we can also let them have their recruiting glories in the off-season. As for me, I will take a Denzel Valentine playing at his Dad's school for a man he has known all of his life over any 20-year-old high school flunkie.


  1. Great insight that we would never get anywhere else, SM82. It's almost like you grew up in your folks house a block from campus or something.

    C Mann 1979


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