It amazes me how often we overlook the Michigan State Spartans when discussing the greatest teams in college basketball history. However, the Spartans have been a top program for decades and are one of the sport’s most successful teams.
Naturally, Michigan State’s success has not only been fueled by outstanding point guard play but also by excellent coaching. Let’s take a look back at Michigan State’s greatest point guards.
The following is a list of the five greatest Michigan State Spartans point guards ever:
Although it wasn’t easy to make it into the top five on this list, Neitzel managed to do just enough to put himself above other outstanding MSU point guards. He was a key player for the Spartans in 2005 when they reached the Final Four, and he was the starting point guard.
He was one of the program’s all-time leaders in games played, assists, and three-point field goals when he left East Lansing. Neitzel ranks among the top five point guards in program history because he is also one of three Spartans with 1,500 career points and 500 assists.
We think Winston’s career is a little newer, but we expect him to last. He had two seasons in which he averaged more than 18 points per game and had an overall career average of 6.4 assists per game.
Winston was one of the few MSU point guards who could score and set up their teammates at the same level. When he was a junior, he led Michigan State to the Final Four, and no one knows if he could have done it again in 2020.
We sometimes forget how big of a legend Scott Skiles was at Michigan State because of his notable NBA career as a player and coach. He was the school’s all-time leading scorer when he played for the Spartans.
He averaged 27.4 points and 6.5 assists per game as a senior. After a few down years, Michigan State was able to reach the Sweet 16 once more thanks to that. He is still one of the few point guards who can strike a balance between passing the ball around and creating his own offense.
Without the guy, no one would know. 1, Cleaves might be Michigan State’s greatest player ever. He was the driving force behind the program’s turnaround. In his freshman year, the Spartans made it to the National Invitation Tournament (NIT), the Sweet 16 in his sophomore year, and the Final Four in his junior year. When Cleaves was a senior, the Spartans won the national championship.
Naturally, Cleaves won MVP of the Final Four twice and was named Big Ten Player of the Year twice. He became the Big Ten’s all-time leader in assists and the all-time leader in steals at MSU.
Over the course of four seasons, he averaged 6.6 assists per game and is arguably the most significant Michigan State player, despite his scoring numbers fluctuating slightly.
Naturally, Magic Johnson was unlike anyone else. It may seem unfair that Magic, at 6’9,” could be considered a point guard, but that is exactly what he was. When he first started playing, he averaged 17.3 points, 7.4 assists, and 7.9 rebounds per game when he did.
Naturally, the following season, he led Michigan State to the national championship. Even though Magic only spent two seasons with the Spartans, he left behind a legacy that has been around for decades.
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