On Wednesday, former Michigan State star Keith Appling spoke to the media concerning his final season as a Spartan, and while he didn’t exactly say that he had any major misgivings about his last year, he did admit to one issue that won’t come as a surprise to many fans and analysts.
Early last season, Appling injured his wrist and spent most of the season playing through the nagging injury that he continually hoped would improve with time.
It never did.
Only after the season ended did a hand specialist finally give Appling the diagnosis: He’d chipped a bone at the base of his right palm, along with a sprained wrist. The injury could not heal on its own and abstinence from physical play was likely the best course of action.
Appling kept playing through the pain though, and during some stretches, he looked like his former self and was on top of his game; but for the most part, his injury kept him hampered down and noticeably affected his performance — something he now hopes did not hurt his potential NBA draft stock.
“If I could go back I probably would have taken some time off and not tried to rush and get back out there on the floor,” Appling said Wednesday. “At the same time, what’s done is done. There’s nothing I can do about that now. It’s something when I look back on it, I’ll use to help me become a stronger person.”
The NBA Draft starts tonight and Appling isn’t the only former MSU player who will learn his professional future. Ex-Spartan stars Gary Harris and Adreian Payne, who both left school early to enter the draft, are likely to be first-round picks tonight.
As for where both of the superstar athletes will end up, Payne has an inkling that he might be headed to a Midwest team.
“It’s like I hear a lot about Minnesota because of Kevin Love (possibly being traded), but who knows?” Adreian Payne said.
Harris, on the other hand, seems far less sure.
“Honestly, man,” said Gary Harris, Payne’s teammate at Michigan State, “I know just about as much as you know at this point. You just don’t know what’s going to happen, especially with all the crazy trade talk going around.”
Even their former coach in Tom Izzo can’t say for sure that he has any notion as to where his two top former players are headed.
“Everybody is posturing and nobody wants to give up anything – it’s getting more bizarre, it’s getting more secretive and crazy if you ask me,” Izzo said. “It’s been amazing. What I’ve found is everybody’s asking me, ‘Where do you think they’re going?’ Well, they’re asking me and they’re the GMs, which means really they’re just fishing for information. There’s so many different things going on with this draft.”
As for Appling and his NBA future after playing for nearly a whole season with an injured wrist, Izzo seemed hopeful, but realistic.
“I think there are a couple teams interested in him in the second round, which would be really good if that could happen for him,” Izzo said concerning Appling. “I have a sense that he’s feeling better, but I heard at a couple (workouts) he didn’t shoot it real well still, and that’s going to be the mental part of it to get over.
“But as one guy said to me (Monday), ‘I had him down as a late first-round pick in the middle of January.’ And I think we all agree with that to a certain extent. Not knowing what pick but definitely a draft pick then. So it all depends. The world is based on what did you do for me lately.”
You can follow MSU writer, Michael Ferro, at twitter.com/MichaelFerro.