Michigan State Basketball: Projected 2014 Roles for Gavin Schilling, Alvin Ellis
Gavin Schilling and Alvin Ellis didn't join Michigan State to be wallflowers.
The pair of Spartans incoming freshman should have immediate chances to contribute to what could be coach Tom Izzo's seventh run to the Final Four. Already national favorites, the Spartans have enough star power to instill fear in any opponent.
If they can add in a pair of efficient first-year players to the arsenal, Izzo should have a comfortable ride into March.
This slideshow will examine exactly what Ellis, a 6'4", 190-pound shooting guard, and Schilling, a 6'9", 240-pound power forward, could do for Michigan State in 2013-14.
Introducing Alvin Ellis III
Ideal for the 2-guard position, Ellis brings an aggressive offensive skill set to a team that already has sophomore sharpshooter Gary Harris and senior point man Keith Appling
At 6'4" and 190 pounds, Ellis, a former 3-star rated recruit, should fit comfortably in the rotation, possibly challenging junior Travis Trice and sophomore Denzel Valentine for minutes. In August, Izzo told Spartan Nation Radio (via MLive.com's Diamond Leung) that Ellis was "kind of a complete player."
With that kind of endorsement, it's only natural to assume that Ellis will be less of a decoration on the bench and more of a contributor on the floor. As a junior at Chicago De La Salle, Ellis demonstrated takeover abilities with his 19-point fourth quarter during the 2012 Illinois 4A regional championship.
He doesn't come with the 5-star rating. He wasn't on national top-100 lists. He's a typical Izzo recruit, actually. Unheralded but with a high ceiling. Izzo's known for making more with less—you know, that old sports idiom that just makes complete sense when looking at the Spartans coach.
Introducing Gavin Schilling
How does Day 1 sound?
Maybe Izzo will even let Schilling bring the ball up the court, just to make a statement.
During a recent interview with Spartan Nation Radio, Izzo told host Hondo Carpenter that Schilling would immediately play this season. Izzo basically laid out Schilling's role as No. 2 to Adreian Payne, a 6'10" senior with national player of the year potential.
So what does one do when backing up one of the game's premier big men?
Schilling may not be as lanky and freakishly athletic as Payne, but he's more mobile than the average 6'9" guy running the floor. Far from clunky or slow, Schilling's speed can be seen in the accompanying video above (via YouTube).
The Chicago native has a blend of Windy City grit meets European finesse (due to his roots), which is a wonderful cocktail for a coach such as Izzo; he loves tough athletes.
Schilling will undoubtedly stretch the floor, creating opportunities for teammates to scoreand for himself. With his emerging post-game, Schilling, who attended four high schools, is en route to becoming a staple of the Spartans' offense.
The pair of 2013 recruits were teammates for a year at Chicago De La Salle as juniors in 2012. They've been apart, sure, but it's safe to assume that they have some sort of familiarity with one another. That could prompt Izzo to play them together, depending on personnel needs.
For a fast-paced scoring approach, Izzo could use shooters such as Ellis and Harris, along with Dawson, Payne and Schilling, who would man the front court. That would make for a quick and athletic lineup capable of striking from anywhere on the floor.
There is footage of Ellis that clearly shows his knack for running the point. He's a shooter/scorer by trade, but he could serve as an adequate 1 while Appling catches a breather. Playing both guard spots makes Ellis all the more valuable and versatile.
Like Ellis, Schilling is versatile; he can play both forward positions and sub in at center. Inside-outside with Ellis and Schilling could be a common theme for Spartans basketball within the next few years.
Let's say that Izzo changes his mind and hands out a smaller role to Schilling, somewhere in the range of single-digit minutes per game. Let's say Ellis gets shelved for longer than anticipated and barely sees action during his first year.
It's difficult to predict just how a coach will use a player. Guessing when is just as trying. At the very least, the Spartans will have two more talented players adding to an already strong bench.
Depth is always a plus. Recruiting is how depth is built, and Izzo landed two under-the-radar prospects who may help push the Spartans over the edge. As evidenced by the accompanying video, Izzo's intent is to build a strong program, which he's done. He's getting two "program" guys in Schilling and Ellis, both prime candidates for an Izzo 3-star-to-college star makeover.
Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan State Spartans basketball writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81