There seems little doubt that Kentucky and Louisville will be 1-2 or vice versa when the first college basketball pre-season poll is released next season, but Michigan State is building a case for consideration.
Adreian Payne surprised many observers late Sunday night when the 6-foot-10 forward announced that he would return to East Lansing for his senior season.
“I like doing things the right way,” said Payne, according to the Associated Press. “With me graduating, I’m able to set a standard and be a role model for kids to look up to so I can give hope to another child that may have the same situation as me to let them know that it’s possible.”
He averaged 10.5 points and 7.6 rebounds a game last season.
Payne’s return means Michigan State will lose just one player, starting center Derrick Nix, from the team that won 27 games and lost to Duke in the semifinals of the Midwest Region.
Gary Harris, the Big 10’s Freshman of the Year, also decided to bypass the draft and play for Tom Izzo another year. Keith Appling returns as the starting point guard. Branden Dawson, a junior-to-be, is a returning starter at forward. Plus, Izzo will have a deep bench with holdovers Denzel Valentine, Travis Trice, Matt Costello and Alex Gauna.
MSU also picked up an unexpected addition when Alvin Ellis III, who had signed with Minnesota, was allowed out of his letter after Tubby Smith’s firing and subsequently signed with the Spartans.