LaPorte (IN) La Lumiere 2019 5-star forward Isaiah Stewart holds 41 offers, a list that includes a number of perennial NCAA championship contenders and Stewart is obviously considering a number of schools, including #11 Michigan State, and recently spoke to Spartan Nation about his recruitment and shared his thoughts on the Spartans.
Stewart said that he feels that he would fit in well with Michigan State because of his mindset and style of play and also added that he’s been able to develop a strong relationship with the entire Spartan coaching staff.
“It’s a great place, it’s a great fit, they value toughness, hard work and that’s something I value myself,” he said. “They’re really great at developing their guys, I have a great relationship with the whole coaching staff, coach Garland, Izzo and Fife and the rest of the staff as well – coach Stephens, that’s my guy, he was watching me the whole weekend and it was really great to see coach D.J. at the games and he was really at all, every game watching me, actually all of them were and coach Izzo was as well.”
La Lumiere head coach Pat Holmes, who also coached Jaren Jackson in high school, also said that he believes his star forward would be a fit with Michigan State, because of his relentless motor and attention to detail.
“I think when you think about Michigan State basketball, you think toughness, gritty, just doing all of the little things right, going after rebounds, winning every loose ball,” he said. “He kind of fits the mold of those little undersized big men even though he’s about 6-foot-9, 250 pounds. He’s just going to play hard, he’s going to defend, he’s going to talk, he’s tough. Just everything you think about when you think Michigan State basketball, he’s kind of does it. It’s Michigan State personified in that regard and he’s kind of embraced that. He’s not a finesse guy, he knows what he is and he knows right now, his strength is getting down in the low block and rebounding and rim-running, but his game is also evolving too because he wants to play high-level college basketball and eventually, hopefully, make it to the NBA. He knows he’s got to make jump shots, have a face-up game, be able to handle the basketball because that’s kind of where the game is going these days. But he’s, I think everything coach Izzo would dream of in a player in terms of his toughness and non-stop motor.”
Among the 41 offers Stewart has received throughout his recruitment are Duke, Georgetown, Florida, Kansas, Maryland, Indiana, Georgetown, Notre Dame, Syracuse, UCONN, Florida State, Iowa, Illinois, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Purdue, Tennessee, Texas, UCLA, Virginia and Michigan State. Michigan State extended an offer to Stewart back in January.
While he plays for La Lumiere, a prep school in Indiana, Stewart is from Rochester, New York, where his family still resides.
Something that stands out about the Spartan coaching staff to Stewart is the fact that head coach Tom Izzo and some assistants made the trip out to New York to spend time with Stewart’s father before heading to Indiana to visit with Stewart as well, a move that the 6-foot-9, 250-pound standout said he appreciates because it shows the importance of family to the Michigan State program.
“That means a lot, and the great thing about it was, that same day they came back to visit with me,” he said. “They’re actually the only school that went up there to visit my dad and that means a lot because I value family. The fact that they went up to meet my family, it was great because they got a chance to meet my brother, who lives at home with my dad, so that was great. To actually see them do that shows a lot and that they really, really want me at Michigan State and they think that I’m their guy. First class.”
Although Stewart still has another year of basketball at the high school level remaining, Holmes told Spartan Nation that he believes there are specific aspects of his games that are already ready for the next level.
“What he does the most college ready right now is just plays hard, rim-runs and rebounds not only in his area but outside of his area,” he said. “It’s going to be, hopefully, the second year in a row where he’s going to lead the EYBL in rebounding. He was our leading rebounder this year at just under 12 per game, he goes and does it at a high level and he’s already ready for the physicality of it (college basketball). The next level is being able to get back to his counter, his go-to move right now is his jump hook over his left shoulder and people are starting to take that away, so now he’s working on that left-hand counter or his drop step. He’s a great jump shooter, I don’t think many people realize that because he hasn’t had to use it and now he’s starting to use it on the EYBL scene. So he’s kind of showcasing his ability to have a nice touch from the outside on pick-and-pop situations and that’s what ultimately he’s going to need to be a consistently great player in college and beyond.”
Stewart plans on making his college decision before the start of his senior season.
Along with his relationship with his former high school teammate, Jaren Jackson, Stewart said he’s also had the chance to spend time and build a relationship with now-graduated Spartan point guard Tum Tum Nairn. Stewart noted that Izzo believes he can be the type of leader that Nairn was from day one if he were to join the Spartans.
“I actually got a chance to meet Tum not too long ago when I first went up to Michigan State,” he said. “Coach Izzo thinks of me as a big Tum Tum, a guy who can come in and lead right away, be a leader and be tough and someone he can depend on. That’s really great, because coach Izzo thinks really highly of Tum Tum, so I think he thinks really highly of me as well.”
When it comes to his relationship with Izzo, Stewart said that he’s been able to build a strong relationship with Izzo starting with the first time he met him.
“It’s him being honest,” he said. “When I first met Izzo, it was my first time talking to him and seeing him in person and his personality and my personality, we clicked. As soon as I saw him, he had a smile and I had a smile on my face and we talked for a little bit and we just clicked after that. He’s just a really good guy.”
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