Thursday, September 26, 2013
Scout's take: Spartans land speedy Nairn
By Paul Biancardi
One of the fastest point guards in the country, Lourawls Nairn (Bel Aire, Kan./Sunrise Christian Academy) committed to Michigan State on Thursday, choosing the Spartans over Indiana, Minnesota and Oklahoma. He is ranked No. 72 in the ESPN 100, No. 1 in the state of Kansas, and we have him as the nation's No. 16 point guard.
Why he committed: His visit to Michigan State couldn't have gone better," said Kyle Lindsted, Nairn's coach. "The team was very tight knit, and to a man they all made Lourawls feel wanted and needed. He and Coach Tom Izzo hit it off as people and will have a strong player-coach relationship. That was very important to 'Tum-Tum.' I can't think of a better coach or style of play than Coach Izzo and Michigan State."
Another big reason for his decision was need. Keith Appling will graduate, so the Spartans had a void to fill and time was running out on high-level point guards. Travis Trice will be going into his senior season as the only other point guard on the roster when Nairn enrolls.
What he brings: If you want to dictate tempo, it must come from your point guard, and Nairn brings exceptional transition speed and does it as well as anyone in his position. The strength of his game is to blow by his man with a low center of gravity, quickness and speed from a dribble drive. Once he gets a piece of the paint on his drive, the defense is at his mercy, as he will score or will find the open man. At the present time his jumper is not where it needs to be, and that's mostly because he can get past almost any defender and relies on that a little too much.
"His mechanics on his jumper are good; he just needs to continue to invest time and create confidence in his shot," Lindsted said.
Nairn is best when the game doesn't stop, and that is just fine with Tom Izzo, as he would prefer a fast pace with this guy at the controls. As important as his athletic ability and skill are, his true strength is leadership -- the kind you need not only to win games, but championships.
How he fits: Michigan State under Izzo runs a numbered fast break at every opportunity. The Spartans also set drag screens for their point guard, and this is ideal for Nairn, as he can turn the corner and attack to get into the lane, where he is best. In the half court, the Spartans run a ton of set plays and will set balls screens for the point guard. It plays right into the strength of Nairn's game, as he will look to distribute. If you don't give him respect, he will make you pay with a bucket. Defensively, Michigan State does not press but does pick up full court man-to-man and plays all man defense. Nairn will apply excellent pressure on the ball and take away his man's space.
Who he reminds us of: Former Michigan State standout point guard Travis Walton, who was the Big Ten defensive player of the year in 2009. Both point guards are blessed with strong athletic bodies and speed with dribble-penetration abilities as their calling card. Nairn has a chance to be a lockdown, in-your-face defender while running the show on the offensive end. Walton and Nairn are both fierce competitors and that is one of the first qualities Izzo and his staff look for in a recruit.
How the class is shaping up: The 5-foot-10 point guard is Michigan State's first commitment in the 2014 class. Nairn's commitment will take Michigan State out of the race for Tyus Jones and likely for Jahlil Okafor, as well, but the Spartans are involved with some other elite prospects, such as Kevon Looney and Devin Booker as they prepare to possibly lose Gary Harris to the NBA. Michigan State just secured the most important position with a player they can trust to lead them over the next four years.