When we think of the best college basketball programs of all-time, it’s amazing how often we forget the Michigan State Spartans. However, the Spartans are one of the winningest programs in the sport and have been a premier program for decades. Of course, outside of great coaching, Michigan State’s success has been fueled by incredible point guard play. Let’s take a look back at the very best point guards in Michigan State history.
5. Drew Neitzel
It wasn’t easy cracking the top-5 on this list, but Neitzel did just enough to elevate himself over some other outstanding MSU point guards. He was a key player for four seasons, and was the starting point guard when the Spartans reached the Final Four in 2005.
He left East Lansing among the program’s all-time leaders in games played, assists, and three-point field goals. Neitzel is also one of three Spartans with 1,500 career points and 500 assists, which is why he belongs among the top-5 point guards in program history.
4. Cassius Winston
Winston’s career is a little fresher in our minds, but he figures to stand the test of time. For his career, he averaged 6.4 assists per game and had two seasons in which he averaged over 18 points per game.
Few MSU point guards could score and set up their teammates at the same level that Winston did. He guided Michigan State to the Final Four as a junior and there’s no telling if he could have done it again in 2020.
3. Scott Skiles
Skiles had such a noteworthy NBA career as both a player and coach that we sometimes forget how big of a legend he was at Michigan State. He finished his career with the Spartans as the all-time leading scorer in school history.
As a senior, he averaged 27.4 points and 6.5 assists per game. That was enough to get Michigan State back to the Sweet 16 after a few down seasons. He remains one of the rare point guards to find the perfect balance between distributing the ball and finding his own offense.
2. Mateen Cleaves
If not for the guy at no. 1, Cleaves might be the best player in Michigan State history. He was instrumental in turning the program around. The Spartans reached the NIT in his freshman season, the Sweet 16 in his sophomore season, the Final Four in his junior season, and finally won the national championship when Cleaves was a senior.
Of course, Cleaves was Final Four MOP and twice the Big Ten Player of the Year. Along the way, he became the MSU all-time leader in steals and the Big Ten’s all-time assists leader. While his scoring numbers went up and down a little, he averaged 6.6 assists per game over four years and is arguably the most important player in Michigan State history.
1. Magic Johnson
Of course, there was no one quite like Magic. The fact that Magic could be considered a point guard at 6’9’’ is a little unfair, but that’s what he was. He stepped on the floor as a freshman and immediately averaged 17 points and 7.4 assists per game, not to mention 7.9 rebounds.
Of course, his encore was leading Michigan State to the national title the next season. While Magic only played two seasons for the Spartans, he left a legacy that has lasted for decades.