Saturday, March 5, 2016

Farewell to four unforgettable seniors

Michigan State fans will say farewell today to one of the greatest group of seniors to ever come through East Lansing: Matt Costello, Bryn Forbes, Denzel Valentine, and Colby Wollenman.

I predicted a breakthrough year for Costello, and I'm happy to say he came through. His defense and rebounding in particular have been so outstanding that he may very well be selected by somebody in the NBA draft. But beyond that, Costello brings a childlike enthusiasm to the game that is infectious. People who don't follow MSU basketball may be put off by Costello's exuberant demonstrations, but I've never considered Costello a showuboat. He plays the game with the spirit of an oversized 10-year-old.

Bryn Forbes has blown most people away with his prolific 3-point scoring. Few players come off screens more brilliantly than Forbes, and his shot fakes have embarrassed many an opposing defender. I've been referring to him as "Stephen Curry, Junior" through most of the season. I don't know if Forbes will be drafted by the NBA, but I have no doubt he'll be playing professionally somewhere next season.

Stories of Denzel Valentine were legendary even when he was a prep player at Lansing Sexton and, along with Bryn Forbes, leading the Big Reds to a state title in their senior year. I still regret not watching Valentine and Forbes play Okemos High School when they were in my neck of the woods. (At least I've been able to see them many times in college). I thought Valentine would be an excellent college player, but I didn't foresee him becoming a potential first round draft pick and possible national player of the year. The kid has truly been a joy to watch grow as a player these four years.

Colby Wollenman is one of those wonderful, improbable stories that happens every once in awhile. A guy who didn't even intend on playing basketball, but walked on the team and is now a scholarship player who has made valuable contributions to the team. Wollenman's basketball career ends today, but he may have a bright future as a doctor.

It's hard for me to see the Spartans losing to Ohio State today. Even though the Buckeyes are playing for their NCAA tournament lives, and the Spartans will be dealing with the emotions of this big day, MSU should have enough to come away with a victory.

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