Breslin Center

East Lansing, MI

As the #4/5 Michigan State Spartans take their #3 seed into action on Friday night against a very talented Bucknell team, there is a lot more on the line than just an NCAA title.  This Spartan team is loaded with talented players that have their eyes set on playing and reaching the next level.

For one Spartan star, the “Big Dance” may not really impact his future.  Jaren Jackson, Jr. (3J) has been featured many times by Spartan Nation and his play during the season has all but locked his spot as a top seven pick up.

The highly acclaimed Sports Betting Dime website accurately calls 3J nearly a sure lock in NBA Draft Prospects.  While they go on to pontificate about multiple players that “Have something to prove” they do not think that is the case for 3J.

For 3J the “Dream” of the NBA lays waiting whenever he leaves MSU, but it isn’t clouding his mind now.  He said recently when asked of the NBA, “That is a dream, for sure, but that is not now.  My total focus is on playing for Michigan State and that is where it will stay.”  That is where is should be right now.

The Michigan State Spartans Hall of Fame Coach Tom Izzo isn’t thinking NBA for his super freshman big man just yet.  In fact, he is locked in on the NCAA tournament and see how far his team can go.  Izzo like moving 3J to the five and being able to play mad scientist with three of his underclassmen that all have NBA dreams.

He said of using Nick Ward, Jaren Jackson, and Miles Bridges yesterday that, “We can do that, but this team is pretty physical inside. I think what we are looking to get back to a little bit more Nick (Ward) has had a great four, five days. Maybe the best since he’s been here. We’ve got to establish him in that low post. I think he got frustrated, I think we got a little frustrated when he was getting doubled. He may get doubled, now he’s been better the last two weeks at dealing with it, but I think he’s comfortable now. We’ve worked on it every single day, so when he gets doubled we can play out of it. But, you know, there’s no question that that double-teaming affected his offense and his defense, and then we’d pull him out. You know, we can play Jaren at the three on some things, Miles at the four, even keeping the same lineup in there. I think our size and offensive rebounding would be one of our strengths against them. But, you know, we’re not going to make wholesale changes but we can make some of those adjustments, yeah.”

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