Michigan State sophomore guard blew the roof off of the Breslin Center with 13 and a half minutes left during the Spartans' 73-71 win over Villanova on Friday night with a monstrous transition dunk.
Following a Wildcats' turnover, Akins came up with the loose ball and sprinted upcourt on a three-on-one break. Even with the numbers advantage, the thought of giving up the basketball never crossed the sophomore's mind as he rose up and slammed home a left-handed jam over Villanova's Brandon Slater.
The Breslin Center erupted after the slam, with every single fan in attendance jumping to their feet in celebration. The television view of the play doesn't even do the play justice — it was a monster dunk from Akins, and it had everybody talking on social media.
Akins left the game with six minutes left due to an undisclosed lower body injury, but head coach Tom Izzo said after the game that he doesn't expect the injury to be anything serious.
Michigan State's head coach did say that the sophomore guard wasn't quite back to 100 percent however, after missing two months due to foot surgery this offseason.
“He’s not back yet. Don’t kid yourself," Izzo said. Nine weeks off, he’s in his second week back and he’s played against Gonzaga, Kentucky and Villanova. That’s not fair to anybody."
That's a scary thought for Michigan State's future opponents, because even less than full strength, Akins has played pretty well for the Spartans through four games, and he showed off his leaping ability with that monster dunk.
"He probably didn’t do as good a job in some things like shot selection," Izzo said, "But, he probably did an unbelievable job when I think of what he’s trying to do without the practicing for the nine weeks. Jaden’s going to be fine. He’s going to be a special player before he’s done here.”
Against Villanova, Akins finished with nine points on 4-of-7 shooting, and added five rebounds and two assists in a little over 21 minutes of action.
“I thought early, I mean, he hits that big three, he lets the game come to him and then – I thought he forced a little bit," Izzo said. "I talked to him at halftime about it, and in the second half, to be honest with you, I thought he was playing great.
Akins brings an athleticism that Michigan State's other guards don't have, and that's why he's such a valuable piece for Izzo to bring in off the bench. Point guard A.J. Hoggard and shooting guard Tyson Walker are good on-ball defenders in their own right, and there's no defensive dropoff when Akins enters the game.
“We need him defensively. He’s our one athlete that’s above-level. Not Jason Richardson, but he’s in that discussion," Izzo said. “I think he was really playing well … I thought he did some really good things and made some good plays.”
Michigan State has a well-earned week off before traveling to the West Coast next Thursday to face No. 18 Alabama in the first round of the Phil Knight Invitational in Portland, Oregon.