Michigan State didn’t live up to its national title or bust hype this season, but individually, a few players had good seasons. Here are some grades for Jaren Jackson Jr. and Xavier Tillman.
Jaren Jackson Jr.: A-
Jackson was a top recruit coming out of high school and he showed why throughout the season. He was a very versatile scorer and an absolute monster defending the rim. The only reason Jackson gets an A- is because of foul trouble. He struggled to stay on the court throughout the year and that hurt the Spartans defensively. His presence in the paint made the team much better defensively and allowed the offense to space out. He finished his freshman season with 10.9 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3 blocks per game. Had he stayed out of foul trouble and played more in the paint, those averages would’ve been higher. Even without a ton of playing team, he still found ways to impact every game. He has declared for the draft and will not return to MSU for his sophomore season, but his only season in East Lansing was dominant.
Xavier Tillman: A-
Tillman has the look of a typical Tom Izzo recruit. He’s big, tough, rebounds and hustles for every loose ball. He’s a very gritty player that earned more playing time as the season went along. He finished the 2017-18 season averaging 2.8 points and 2.6 rebounds per game, but if you watched MSU play this year, you know those stats don’t show his impact. As he learned Izzo’s system, he became a better defender and more of a low post option the Spartans could go to. I’m giving him an A- because of his major improvement and incredible hustle. He did make some freshman mistakes, but that’s bound to happen. He is an exciting young player for the Spartans and could be in for a big sophomore year.