Very similar to what Rob White did for that team in Ann Arbor, I will be assembling a series of lists that comprise of the top 10 players at each position in Michigan State basketball history. First, I put together a list of the top 10 point guards in the history of MSU. Some of these players could be considered at another position, but I placed them in the position I felt they were best remembered as. Stay tuned for the shooting guard list coming very soon, but for now, here is the list of top 10 point guards:
10. Marcus Taylor
This one may be a little eyebrow-raising, but Marcus Taylor could play (even though he didn’t do that much in a Spartans uniform)! The point guard from Lansing, Mich. put together some terrific numbers in his second of only two seasons at Michigan State University. Taylor averaged 16.8 ppg, 5.3 apg, and 2.9 rpg during his sophomore campaign in East Lansing. He was the second player in Big Ten history to lead the Big Ten in both scoring and assists, and the first in MSU history. He won a gold medal as apart of the FIBA Under-21 World Championship team, and he was drafted by the Timberwolves in the second-round of the NBA Draft after leaving MSU early.
9. Travis Walton
Walton was one of the greatest leaders and defenders in the history of MSU basketball. Walton is only one of three three-year captains in Michigan State history, and in his senior season, he was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, the third Spartan to ever win the award. Walton has played in more games than anyone in MSU history with 143 games played, and ranks fourth in MSU history with 167 steals. In the 2008-2009 season Walton won the MSU Inspirational Player Award, and earned a spot on the Big Ten All-Defensive Team for the third straight season. He ranks sixth in career assists in MSU with 555.
8. Eric Snow
Better known for his career in the NBA alongside Allen Iverson, Eric Snow was also apart of the “fire and ice” back-court along with Shawn Respert during his time at MSU. Snow is currently third on the all-time assist list in MSU history with 599, and led the Big Ten in assists in both his junior and senior seasons. In 1995, Snow won the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year award. Unfortunately, for Snow his last game as a Spartan came in the 1995 NCAA Tournament when the #3 Spartans were upset in the first-round by Weber State.
7. Kalin Lucas
The latest of Michigan State great point guards, Lucas put together one hell of a career during his four-years at MSU. He is currently fifth in career scoring with 1,996 points and career games started with 119. Lucas is sixth in career assists with 558, and eighth in 3-point field-goals made with 149. Only eight players in MSU history made more shots than Lucas, as he is ninth in career field-goals made with 670. He is just one of just four Spartans to total 1,500 career points and 500 career assists, and is the all-time leader in free-throws made and attempted. During his junior season he was named to the First-Team All-Big Ten Team, and during his senior season, Lucas started every game for the Spartans.
6. Drew Neitzel
Before there was the Spartan legend that is Kalin Lucas there was this bad man above, Drew Neitzel. The former Mr.Basketball in Michigan left MSU as the all-time leader in career free-throw percentage shooting 86 percent, and he ranks fourth all-time in career assists with 582, which is also the tenth most in Big Ten history. Neitzel is third all-time with career 3’s made with 273, and one of just three players in Michigan State history, and 12 players in Big Ten history, with 1,500 points and 500 assists. In his junior and senior season Neitzel was awarded a spot on the All-Big Ten Fist-Team, which makes him the first Spartan to do that since 2000.
5. Mark Montgomery
The former Spartan assistant coach, and current Northern Illinois head coach, was one of the better defensive players and “pure” point guards in MSU history. Montgomery is third in steals with 168 in MSU history, and fifth in assists with 561. In 1990 the point guard led the Spartans to a Big Ten title.
4. Scott Skiles
Before his time in the NBA, Skiles was one of not only the best point guards in MSU history, but best players as well. Skiles put together an amazing career at MSU averaging 18.2 ppg and 5.5 apg in his four years. During the 1985-1986 season, his senior year, Skiles averaged a ridiculous 27.4 ppg. He is currently third in scoring in MSU history with 2,145 points, and second in both assists and steals with 645 and 175.
3. Mateen Cleaves
Outside of Magic Johnson, there has not been a player more worshiped on the hardwood than this man right here. The leader of the “Flintstones,” Cleaves had one of the best careers in college basketball history. Cleaves led the Spartans to their second National Championship in 2000, and was the only three time All-American in the history of the program. Cleaves is MSU’s and Big Ten’s all-time leader in assists with 816, and MSU’s all-time leader in steals with 195. The year the Spartans won the title, Cleaves received numerous accolades such as: Final Four Most Outstanding Player, Wooden All-American, Sporting News All-American, Associated Press second-team All-American, NABC third-team All-American, First-Team All-Big Ten, All-Big Ten Tournament Team, and All-Midwest Regional Team. Cleaves leadership and determination has not yet been matched even 12 years later.
2. Steve Smith
When Smitty was one the floor there was no point in playing defense because every shot that this man put up was going to hit the bottom of the net. While I could have put Steve Smith in the shooting guards list, I felt that he was better suited, for this conversation, as a point guard. Smith is the second all-time leading scorer in MSU history with2,263 career points, which was first all-time when he left East Lansing. Smith won the Big Ten scoring champion in 1991, and won the Big Ten MVP in 1990. Smitty was a two-time All-American in 1990 and 1991, and Smith is currently sixth on the MSU rebounding list with 740 rebounds.
1. Magic Johnson
If you honestly had no idea who would be #1 on this list before you even read it then you need help… immediately. Magic Johnson is not only the best player in MSU history, or college history, or NBA history, but he is arguably one of the best ever. Magic led the Spartans to their first title in 1979, and… well I could hit you with a bunch of stats like the nine inferiors above Magic, but instead of reading about Magic’s game, I’ll let you watch for yourself… HERE