LARRY LAGE,AP Sports Writer
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Tom Izzo spent more than hour talking and answering questions about Michigan State basketball, looking and sounding fired up about the upcoming season.
“I don’t know why I feel as good as I’ve felt in 10 years,” Izzo said Tuesday at media day. “I think we have a lot of things going for us.”
Jabari Parker might be one of them. The highly touted senior from Chicago recently decided Michigan State is among his final five schools. Parker plans to make official visits to Michigan State, Duke, Florida, Stanford and BYU.
Izzo said he hasn’t gotten any commitments from recruits for his next class, adding he and his assistant coaches have some work to do in the next few weeks.
“I think we’re in on the right guys,” Izzo said.
NCAA rules prohibit coaches from commenting on high school players until they sign a national letter of intent as seniors.
“I think that’s one of the good rule because otherwise, it would just open up Pandora’s box,” Izzo said. “It would be brutal because everybody would try to get an edge with everything they’re saying about recruits who already have too many people telling them how great they are.”
Izzo isn’t ready to say his program is one of the very best in the country despite winning a national championship, going to six Final Fours and earning a spot in 15 straight NCAA tournaments.
“This is a very good program, when it hits elite status, that’s when I’m going to hang up my whistle,” he said. “We’ve got a ways to go yet, and yet I think this year we’ve got a chance to take one more step in the right direction.”
Parker would help push the Spartans toward Izzo’s goal.
The 6-foot-8 forward, perhaps the best high school player since LeBron James, led his team to its third straight state championship last season while averaging 19.5 points and 8.9 rebounds as a junior.
His father, Sonny Parker, told The Associated Press last week that he’s considering five schools after as many as 10 — such as Kentucky, Kansas and North Carolina — were options.
“When he visits, he’ll probably get more of a feel for the campus,” said Sonny Parker, a former NBA player. “He’ll get a feel of the school and the players, the whole curriculum and everything.”
While Izzo waits for Parker to decide if he wants to be a Spartan, he’s got a good team to work with in his 18th season as head coach and 30th year in East Lansing.
Michigan State is without All-American forward Draymond Green, who graduated and was drafted by Golden State, but does have 10 of its top 13 scorers back from last year’s team that won a Big Ten title, 29 games, including two in the NCAA tournament.
Izzo announced center Derrick Nix was voted a captain by his teammates and he didn’t use his veto, and won’t suspended him for any games, because of the way he bounced back from pleading guilty to impaired driving that stemmed from an April traffic stop.
“He’s either going to be a huge, huge success story or egg on my face,” Izzo said. “I think it’s going to be a huge, huge success story or I wouldn’t put him in the position he’s in.”
Branden Dawson has put himself in a position to start in the opener — Nov. 9 against Connecticut in Germany — about eight months after major surgery on his left knee. He can already sprint and dunk in workouts as if was never injured.
“Coming off the injury like I did, it is crazy that I’ve recovered so well,” Dawson said.
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AP Sports Writer Andrew Seligman in Chicago contributed to this report.
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