Tom Izzo said something interesting this week, which is neither strange nor rare, but it caught my attention as it pertains to Michigan State and the end of this season. As teams around the country get set to play their final home games of the year and bid farewell to their seniors, the only Spartan to be honored on Sunday afternoon after the Northwestern game will be center Derrick Nix. This means two things. First, it means the Spartans will return plenty of talent next year, and should be a contender to reach the Final Four and fight for the Big Ten title after playing a bit better than most expected this year. (Granted, there’s a chance — albeit a small one — that it could be the last home game for junior Adreian Payne and/or freshman Gary Harris, but that’s a different conversation for a different time.) Second, it means Nix’s time in green and white is drawing to a close. “You realize you get to this point of time and for the first time think, ‘What am I gonna do?’” Izzo said of what his lone senior is going through as his college career ends. It was an eventful four years for Nix, from Shaq-like free throws to being suspended to being a captain his senior year and his postgame tweets. It was nothing if not colorful.
Nix arrived on campus fresh off a Class A state championship (alongside Keith Appling) and with Michigan Mr. Basketball honors. He also was not fit for the program he was entering. Nix topped out near 340 pounds in high school and arrived on campus with a body fat percentage of nearly 25 percent. He struggled to get up and down the floor, didn’t have much leaping ability and in watching his high school highlight tapes, you wondered how he would be able to run with the Spartans. At the time of Nix’s senior year at Detroit Pershing, Michigan State’s big men were far taller than they were wide — Tom Herzog and Idong Ibok made Goran Suton look like a bowling ball — and Delvon Roe was a freshman with plenty of athletic potential. Nix was set to be the odd man out. Read the rest of this entry »