Valentine on UM: "I couldn’t go there"

Spartans junior guard was heavily recruited by the Wolverines, but wound up picking Michigan State.

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo has said junior Denzel Valentine might care the most about the Spartans program of anyone on his team.

With parents that attended Michigan State – and a father, Carlton, who played basketball for the Spartans – and having grown up in Lansing, it is little wonder why.

But Monday, Valentine admitted he had a lot of fondness for the Michigan program during his recruitment.

“They treated me well and they attacked me in the recruiting process,” Valentine said. “They were probably one of my top three, but I couldn’t go there.”

Valentine and the Spartans head to Ann Arbor on Tuesday night to meet Michigan for the second time this season – the other being a 76-66 overtime win for MSU on Feb. 1.

He still says he has a lot of respect for Michigan coach John Beilein as the Spartans prepare for another rivalry game.

“He is a great coach and I respect their program, but it’s a Michigan-Michigan State game. It is what it is.”

Valentine committed to Michigan State in August 2010 over offers from Michigan, Georgetown and others. Back at that time, despite the ties to Michigan State, he said his father – also his coach at Lansing Sexton – supported his recruitment wherever he wanted to go.

“He actually liked how they treated me and he pretty much said it was up to me,” Valentine said. “It was pretty much my choice really.”

Valentine arrived on campus in the summer of 2012 and now is a standout for MSU, averaging 14.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists this season, while shooting 43.3 percent from 3. Including the Spartans’ first win against Michigan, he is averaging 18 points, 5.5 assists and 5.3 rebounds in the past four games.

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