Tom Izzo on His 2013-14 Squad, Returning Veterans & Playing in Spokane With Jud Heathcote

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KALAMAZOO — One might think spring is a perfect time for Michigan State head basketball coach Tom Izzo to slow down, but Izzo has been busy with appearances and events including Thursday night’s fundraiser for the Salvation Army in Kalamazoo.

Izzo was speaking under the platform, “Inspiring Youth to Dream,” where he talked about giving kids opportunities.

“We complain about the (youth) a lot and what they do but do they have the same opportunities as us? The answer is usually no,” said Izzo.

Of course Izzo couldn’t speak at the event without chatting a little about basketball. ESPN analyst Dick Vitale told FOX 17 last week that Izzo’s Spartans were going to be the “Best Tom Izzo-coached team ever.”

Izzo didn’t necessarily disagree, but is excited about what’s to come.

“We do have a good team coming back. We have something that most people have – we have veterans coming back,” said Izzo. “We should have a good team if I don’t screw it up.”

Izzo will return starters Adreian Payne, Gary Harris, Keith Appling and Branden Dawson next year.

“I got my knees fixed because I was down on them for a couple of weeks,” Izzo joked about his players foregoing the NBA. “I think in Adreian’s case he’s going to graduate on time. It’s the All-American story. If he can cap it off with maybe a trip to the Final Four but for sure graduating.”

“In Gary’s case he’s one of the youngest freshman I’ve ever had, but a very mature one. If he can stay healthy, he’s a heck of a player.”

MSU Athletic Director Mark Hollis has spoken about the possibility of playing a basketball game in Spokane, Washington next season – home of former MSU hoops coach Jud Heathcote. Izzo said on Thursday that the possibilities of that game happening is not likely this year, but he would like to honor Heathcote in some sort of game in the future.

“Right now I think it’s leaning to not being done this year because of the timing of everything,” said Izzo. “I love the concept, Mark Few is a good friend of mine and wherever Jud is there are some laughs but it might be put off for a year.”

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