Last year, Michigan State trotted out a pair of lottery picks in Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson, prompting many to call it Tom Izzo’s most talented team in his over 20-year tenure in East Lansing. After an early exit last March, he took the offseason to refocus without Bridges or Jackson.
Without anyone currently on NBA Draft Net’s Top-100 prospects list (yes, even Cassius Winston), Izzo traded talent for experience to guide the Spartans back to the Final Four for the first time since 2015.
One of the key players, in fact, was former walk-on Kenny Goins. The 6-foot-7, 230-pounder nailed a pivotal 3-pointer in Zion Williamson’s face to clinch a 68-67 victory over Duke in the East Regional final last weekend.
The 5th-year senior hails from Troy (Mich.) and has slowly developed his game over his college career. He only attempted 15 triples in his first 4 seasons (including a redshirt year). In 2018-19, he’s connected on 56-of-159 for a rate of 35.2%.
Overall, he averages 8.1 points and 9 rebounds a contest. He’ll need the size on the interior and the range on the perimeter to help Izzo and company cope with the ferocious Texas Tech defense, which ranks No. 1 in efficiency per Ken Pomeroy.
As mentioned earlier, few Spartans are getting love in draft projections. We’re going to take a look at the latest on the Michigan State forward’s current draft stock and projections.
Kenny Goins NBA Draft Projections & Mock Draft
His overall production suggests Goins is more of a solid role player in a college program rather than a substantial piece in an NBA franchise. For what it’s worth, Izzo was not willing to talk about any of his players’ pro futures during press conferences this week. Per the Detroit Free Press:
Izzo was asked if any of his players might consider testing the NBA draft process, like Nick Ward did a year ago before deciding to return. That talk has not come up yet with the Final Four and a national title still on the line.
“I will say it in a non-insulating way that we’re playing in a Final Four. It’s probably the last thing from my mind,” Izzo said. “And I think what’s different about this team is the last thing in their mind. And I would just say I would be more than happy to answer that question a week and a couple days from now.”
Our own Jon Adams also left Goins off his draft board. Bryan Kalbrosky of Hoops Hype lists 83 players on his aggregate mock draft. None of them are from Michigan State. In fact, rival Michigan lists three Wolverines in Charles Matthews, Ignas Brazdeikis and Jordan Poole there.
The Spartans swept the season series this season.
Kenny Goins Scouting Report
Goins is a consumnate glue guy. Here are his statlines from the 3 wins over Michigan:
- Feb. 24 in Ann Arbor: 16 points (6-of-13) and 11 rebounds
- March 9 in East Lansing: 9 points (3-of-6) and 16 rebounds
- March 17 in Big Ten Tournament Final: 2 points (0-of-6), 6 rebounds
He’s able to get hot from outside, like in the first Michigan game or against Nebraska (24 points on 6 triples), but his bread-and-butter is grabbing rebounds, setting screens and doing the dirty work.
Pomeroy compares Goins to several players that saw solid careers in college, but either didn’t go to the NBA (like former West Virginia forward Wellington Smith) or are hanging around in the G-League (like former NC State forward Marcus Melvin).
On the more favorable side, Goins was compared to North Carolina’s Cameron Johnson (from last season). This year, Johnson has crept into the discussion for a late first-round selection.
That’s not saying Goins is even sniffing a draft choice. What it does mean is that he has the potential to grow into a bench player in the NBA, a decent G-Leaguer or a very good Euro-League prospect.