Hoops or Blocks - Balkema Eyeing MSU for Both

When it comes to big, 16 & 17 year-old juniors, they don't usually come 6-foot-9 and they're usually not three-sport athletes. It's time to get familar with Warren Cousino lineman, center, first baseman and right-hander Matt Balkema

MSU Junior Day Produces Basketball Player in 6-foot-9 lineman/basketball center Matt Balkema of Warren Cousino.

Toledo, MI.- When it comes to big, 16 & 17 year-old juniors, usually they don't come 6-foot-9 and they're usually not three-sport athletes.

Warren Cousino tight end and two-way lineman, Matt Balkema, averaged a double-double for his high school team and is the man in the middle for the Adidas sponsored A.A.U. Michigan Mustangs.

Cousino has long been known for its oustanding football program. Matt's last two years on varsity have been very successful as the Patriots have driven deep into the state's tournament.

Lately, Balkema has started hitting the weights and is shedding unwanted pounds in exchange for muscle. Getting in shape is becoming a priority for the current junior. He hopes playing basketball will be one of the things that will help him improve his athleticism. Oh, the third sport? He also is a first baseman and pitcher for Cousino.

Cousino's head coach Mike Powell organized Matt's visit to Michigan State's Junior Day where the Spartan's top recruits are brought in to experience East Lansing and the direction the program is headed in. Balkema's trip to the camp solidified him on Coach Mark Dantonio's list of lineman from the 2009 class.

The big guy started his junior season at tight end and logged plenty of time as a down lineman. He played varsity football as a sophomore, too. He likes the offensive side of football more than the defense and he's a big target when given a route on offense.

When it comes to rating him as a prospect, it's hard to compare him with comparable players because their aren't many. Balkema's a unique individual who's improving in the two sports where college coaches are paying the most attention to his production, football and basketball.

Whichever sport he chooses, Balkema is a future scholarship player who is drawing strong interest from Big Ten schools for football and from Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, and Miami (OH.) in basketball.

Dantonio has made serious waves in the recruiting wars this spring and with players like Matt Balkema on the horizon, could he be another who joins the Green-and-White.

And as an extra benefit, who knows, maybe Coach Izzo could get another big banging body inside out of it as well.

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