Michigan State Basketball: What Izzo did to Land Top-10 Class

In a year with many challenges, Tom Izzo managed to bring in one of the best-recruiting classes he's ever had.
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East Lansing, MI – The Michigan State Spartans have had tremendous talent pass through its program over the years, in large part due to Tom Izzo.

The guy never stops; he has a solid work ethic; it's part of why he became inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016.

But he's never had to do it using technology – it's no secret Izzo pushes back against smartphones, social media, and even computers.

The 65-year old had cause for concern when the coronavirus pandemic nearly shut down the entire sports world, causing him and his staff to recruit solely using things he would usually choose to avoid.

Yet somehow, Izzo managed to sign a three-player 2021 recruiting class that ranks sixth in the country and second in the Big Ten.

So, how did he do it?

"Well, it was strange," said Izzo.

And according to the longtime Spartan, all the credit goes to his first verbal commit, Pierre Brooks, who turned out to be a proficient recruiter and led the charge in landing other prospects.

"He got involved with some of the other players; he's an energetic kind of guy that I absolutely think started the whole thing," Izzo said.

But eventually, he found himself in an enjoyable position, once he figured out how to set up a Zoom call, of course. 

"I think it helped because a lot of these families were involved. We had a lot of calls with mom and dad and son. There weren't a lot of other people involved," said Izzo. "It was really kind of cool how they all did it. I think it's going to be more meaningful as we move forward."

In 2018, the Spartans hired Doug Wojcik as Michigan State's recruiting coordinator who helped lay the groundwork for landing the star of Izzo's recent class, Max Christie.

Wojcik's two sons played AAU basketball with the Illinois native, allowing MSU to pursue the shooting guard early in the process.

But ultimately, Michigan State's final game of the season against Ohio State sealed the deal with more than another Big Ten title on senior night.

"He (Christie) told me that day riding home, 'This is where I wanna be' and I really didn't believe him then … I give my staff – DJ (Dwayne Stephens), Mike (Garland), Dane (Fife) – I give Doug (Wojcik) a lot of credit," Izzo told reporters last week. "I give a lot of credit to our fans and our players because that was a magical night."

Michigan State wouldn't stop there; Izzo said they "turned up the heat" on Jaden Akins as he saw him continuously improve before finally landing 6-foot-3 point guard late in the summer; finishing off one of the best classes he's ever put together.

"There's been a uniqueness to it that I think will build a bond that will be with us for the years to come," he said.

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