EAST LANSING, Mich. – Top-ranked Michigan State is already dealing with a significant injury.
Guard Joshua Langford had a setback in his return from a foot injury, and coach Tom Izzo says the senior will be re-evaluated in January. Langford played only 13 games last season, averaging 15 points.
An emotional Izzo said Tuesday a problem has surfaced with the same foot. Izzo described the current issue as a stress reaction and said Langford has missed practice time.
“It's one of those weird things that breaks my heart,” Izzo said. “I love Josh Langford. He's one of those guys that has given me everything on the court, off the court, in the classroom, like almost nobody I've had. He's handled everything a lot better than I would have handled it.”
Izzo described Monday as a day of highs and lows. The Spartans were ranked No. 1 in the preseason AP poll for the first time, then Izzo found out about Langford later in the day.
“That kid has been the most selfless, greatest attitude, committed kid,” Izzo said. “Didn't miss a practice last year, didn't miss a trip.”
Izzo didn't sound ready to speculate on Langford's return, or whether he might redshirt.
“Josh is on draft boards. What I want for Josh is what's best for Josh,” Izzo said. “He's given me more than four years' worth of sacrificing.
Cassius Winston had a long list of accomplishments at Michigan State. The 6-foot-1 guard led the Spartans to Big Ten regular-season and tournament titles and into the Final Four. He was the Big Ten player of the year, an Associated Press All-American, one of the nation's best players.
No one would have blamed the gritty guard for bolting to the NBA. His place in Michigan State history was already secured.
But Winston wanted more, to add to his legacy in East Lansing, so he opted to return for his senior season.
Winston is the only consensus selection on The Associated Press preseason All-America team announced Tuesday.
He is joined by high-scoring Marquette senior guard Markus Howard, Louisville junior forward Jordan Nwora, Seton Hall senior guard Myles Powell and Memphis freshman James Wiseman.
“He is the straw that stirs the drink and I think deserves all the attention he's been getting because he is a special player,” Izzo said of his star player. “But I think he's handled it pretty well too with a lot of class and has worked hard.”
Smart and able to see things before they develop, Winston has a feel for the game that allows him to beat players with more size and athleticism.
Winston has steadily progressed during his time in East Lansing, going from a reliable backup as a freshman to one of the nation's best floor leaders. He averaged 18.8 points and 7.5 assists as a junior, leading the Spartans to the Final Four for the eighth time under Izzo.
Now Winston is back for more, hoping to take the Spartans even deeper.
“You've got little taste of it. That's never enough,” Winston said. “You want to take it another step further.”