East Lansing, Mich. – Jaden Akins, a four-star point guard from Farmington, has spent the first three weeks in East Lansing adjusting to life on a college campus.
However, watching the NBA playoffs with teammates, experiencing team dinners at head coach Tom Izzo's house, and building chemistry in the weight room made it an easier transition.
"I feel like it was an easy adjustment just because of the people that I was around," Akins told reporters in a videoconference on Friday afternoon. "They made it easier for me ... I feel like I've been knowing these dudes for longer than I really have."
Michigan State's summer practices began on June 9, and like his fellow freshman Max Christie, Akins is noticing the differences between Sunrise Christian Academy and the next level.
"The pace is definitely faster, but I feel like the high school that I was at, Sunrise, got me prepared for this as best I could," said Akins. "It's an adjustment, but I'm learning quick ... It's the Big Ten, and it's just a different level than high school, so I'm just getting ready for that every day."
Akins, alongside Christie and Pierre Brooks II, represents the Spartans 2021 recruiting class which finished 10th in the nation. While pressure and lofty goals accompany them to Michigan State, the trio finds ways to bond on and off the court.
"Me and Max's relationship grew a lot. Before we were texting but being able to meet him in person; ever since we got here, we've been hanging out basically every day," Akins said. "We're working out and just really pushing each other on the court and in the weight room. We know we are the freshmen coming in, plus Pierre, so we just push each other.
"At the end of the day, it is basketball. That's what we've been doing for most of our life. So we feel like we can carry over this level. We just need to stay confident in ourselves."
The 6-foot-3, 170-pound point guard will battle for playing time with MSU's likely starter in Northeastern transfer Tyson Walker.
Official roles aren't carved out for either player, but after running on and off-ball sets at Sunrise with five-star guard Kennedy Chandler, Akins believes there is an opportunity for him and Walker to do the same.
"I feel like we could definitely play together," said Akins. "Our games complement each other ... You can see me on the ball and off the ball, just being versatile (and) somebody that can guard the other team's best player if needed to be."
Yet, none of the unknowns heading into this fall are deterring Akins at all; he knows precisely what he wants out of his first season.
"A successful freshman season for me is winning a Big Ten championship, getting to the Final Four, national championship, playing major minutes, and playing a major role on this team."
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