2011 Watch: Brandan Kearney Talks Spartans

When coaches are on the road watching prep and AAU basketball games, they are always looking for surprises. So imagine Tom Izzo's surprise when watching the Detroit Pershing vs. Detroit Southeastern game. He eventually got two Spartan commitments and the third prospect could end up being the best of the bunch.

GSN editor Mike Fowler is in Ann Arbor in advance of the Michigan v. Michigan State football game

ANN ARBOR - When coaches are on the road watching prep and AAU basketball games, they are always looking for surprises.

Oftentimes, a coach will go to a gym to look at one prospect and another will catch his eye. For MSU coach Tom Izzo, he found not one future Spartans but two and perhaps three.

Izzo was at the Detroit Pershing vs. Detroit Southeastern game last year to see then Pershing junior guard Keith Appling, a future Spartan commit, but in the process he spotted another future Spartan commit in Pershing big man Derrick Nix.

But it was a little known freshman who created a buzz in the gym that night, a buzz that continues to follow him right into his sophomore season.

That night, a wirly young freshman scored 18 points against Pershing, distributing the ball with a court vision seldom seen in such a young player. In the process, he stamped himself as a major college prospect.

Brandan Kearney's rise has been so outstanding, that some say he is, without question, the top sophomore point guard in the state. Some will even go so far as to assert that he is the best point guard in the state regardless of class.

"Coach Izzo was in the gym that night," recalled Kearney. "I think he was there to see Appling, but I played really well that night."

Since that time, Michigan State has been recruiting the 2011 prospect and while they have not extended an offer - and aren't likely to do so until his junior season - MSU clearly is one of the early leaders for Kearney.

"They were one of the first teams to start recruiting me," said Kearney who does have an early list of favorites.

"That's kind of hard to say, but I've always liked Syracuse. Watching Carmelo Anthony play, I liked the way he played and his game."

Kearney said that Syracuse has been in touch and plans a visit to his school during the winter.

"I love Michigan State," said Kearney who visited this past weekend unofficially for MSU's midnight madness opening of 2008-09 basketball season. "I really like it up there, the facilities are great and I really like Coach Izzo."

Kearney made it clear though that he likes all the in-state schools. "I would say Syracuse, Michigan State, Michigan, University of [Detroit-Mercy] and Ohio State," he said are his early favorites.

Why Ohio State?

"My cousin is Braylon Edwards, (the former Michigan receiver now with the Cleveland Browns) and he told me that Ohio State is a really good school and if they approach me, I should check them out."

Kearney has a solid support system in place, starting with his father Derrick Kearney who starred at Detroit Kettering and Lousiana Techback in the 80's, his uncle former Michigan running back Stan Edwards and cousin Braylon.

All are working with the young star to make sure he stays on pace with his development. Already at nearly 6-foot-5, the young point guard could top out at 6-foot-8 or more.

We asked Kearney if he was familiar with a 6-foot-8 point guard who has a statue in front of the Breslin Center.

"No, I never got to see him play in college. I wasn't even born then," laughed Kearney, "but my dad tells me all about how he played and his game."

Kearney said he's since watched DVDs of Magic Johnson and the way he dominated the college game without scoring much.

"He used the mental game, he was so smart, he had that court vision," said Kearney in what he noticed from Johnson's game and said he tries to have that same court vision.

Right now, Kearney seems to be more similar in stature to current Lakers guard Kobe Bryant than to the bigger, more physical Johnson.

The sophomore star said he is using his off-season to get stronger, working on his conditioning so that he will be ready to finish off his high school career strong.

Don't look for him on the baseball diamond, football field or even the track, except to work on his stamina. Kearney says he's entirely committing to one thing, being the best he can be in basketball.

2011 figures to reveal some outstanding prospects in state; Lansing Everett's LaDontae Henton, Saginaw's Tommy McCune, Country Day's Amire Williams and thanks to being in the gym on a cold wintery night, Michigan State has a head start recruiting Southeastern's Brandan Kearney.

Coach Izzo bagged two he saw that night. Can he make it three-for-three?


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