Repeating is never easy for championship teams. Michigan State's task should be less daunting however, thanks to hometown hero Jason Richardson.
By all accounts, Richardson, who won the state of Michigan's 1998-99 Mr. Basketball Award after leading Saginaw Arthur Hill to a berth in Michigan's Class A title game, is on the verge of a breakout season. He is expected to be inserted into the Spartans' starting lineup this season.
The 19-year-old gave everyone a glimpse of what to expect this upcoming season earlier this summer when he put on a dazzling display against the world's best basketball players. As one of 12 collegians chosen to play on the U.S. Select Team that took on the U.S. Olympic team, a.k.a. "The Dream Team," in an exhibition in Honolulu, Richardson scored 20 points, grabbed five rebounds and dished out four assists -- all team highs.
"I had no idea how good he was," says St. John's coach Mike Jarvis, who coached the Select Team. "I wish I had him at St. John's -- he'd be starting for me next year for sure."
Richardson also led the U.S. team to a silver medal at the Young Men's World Championships in Brazil, averaging 15.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.6 steals in the games.
Last year, the swingman averaged 5.1 points and 4.1 rebounds per game while coming off the bench for the national champions. Against Florida in the title game, he showed the flashes of brilliance that has everyone at Michigan State so excited, scoring nine points in 15 minutes of play.
-- Jimmy Traina