Tom Izzo: 'I feel sorry for the kids, I worry about what they're being told'

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Friday July 01, 2016

Photo credit: Getty Images

Coming off an NBA Draft full of surprises and featuring some early entrants who slipped or went undrafted, Tom Izzo says he’s worried about the pressures put on kids.

Back in April, Izzo said young players weren’t learning to handle adversity, noting people putting pressure on kids to transfer or leave. In this year’s draft, Izzo saw graduated senior Denzel Valentine become a lottery pick, but one-and-done Deyonta Davis slid to the second round after projections had him mid-first. Izzo was at the draft and worked the phones to help Davis as he slipped down.

Izzo said Davis didn’t enter Michigan State immediately planning to leave after one year, and he improved as the season went on. But the coach questioned some of the projections and other things players are told, and if they’re put in the best position for long-term success.

“We’re in a new era, the transfer era, the D-League era where that’s changing,” Izzo said on ESPN's college basketball podcast. “This is a critical time, if you ask me. Some people might think I’m overdoing it. I don’t feel sorry or Tom Izzo or Michigan State, we’ll be fine. I don’t feel sorry for the Knicks or Celtics, because they’re not folding. I still feel sorry for the kid. There’s pressure on these kids, and that’s the underlying thing. I hear so many people say, ‘Don’t stop them from working.’ How many are making it big? That’s the question I have. Those studies will be 10 years down the road.

I worry about the pressure. I worry about what these kids are being told. I worry about family pressure being put on these kids. It’s sad. If they’re there one or two years, didn’t they really get to enjoy it? For (Davis), it was great. He was getting better every day, but there was no thought coming in that he was one-and-done. Now in February, a couple media guys start it, and it changed a little bit. But for the most part, he had a good run.

“Some of these kids come in knowing they’re leaving. I don’t know if you have any fun in college. In that respect, maybe they should just come out right away. I’m struggling with it, too. I think everybody is, but it’s something nobody wants to talk about.”

The requirement to spend one year in college (or prep school or overseas) is an NBA rule, not an NCAA rule, and Jay Bilas says the NCAA should allow drafted and undrafted players to return to school. 

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News,, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to