CBKB: Michigan State’s Summers & Lucas back next season
By LARRY LAGE
AP Sports Writer
DETROIT — Durrell Summers played well enough in the NCAA tournament to make entering the NBA draft a possibility.
He chose to put his hoop dreams on hold.
Summers and Kalin Lucas told The Associated Press on Friday they will return for their senior seasons to chase a championship and continue their education.
"I've got dreams of playing in the NBA, but I would rather win a national championship and graduate first," Summers said in a telephone interview. "I want to accomplish all those dreams instead of just one."
The 6-foot-4 shooting guard with 3-point range, a mid-range game and jaw-dropping hops averaged nearly 19 points a game during the NCAA tournament to help lead the Spartans to their sixth Final Four in a dozen years.
"Durrell could've left for sure," Lucas said. "But we both talked about coming back to win a national championship and to graduate."
Lucas ruptured his left Achilles' tendon last month, ending his second straight All-Big Ten season, and had surgery.
"I think my guys were good enough to go and could've put their names in like everybody else," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo told the AP. "Even though I offered to do some checking for them, they had their mind made up to come back. I think it's neat that they made educated, mature decisions."
Lucas' father told the Lansing State Journal on Tuesday his son was returning for his senior season.
A slew of underclassmen have entered the NBA draft in part because of fears there will be a lockout after the 2010-11 season.
"It's crazy," Lucas said. "With some of the guys, I've thought, 'Why are they putting their name in the draft?' But I wasn't tempted to do that."
The last time a pair of Michigan State standouts chose to stay in school instead of turning pro, the school won a national championship.
Mateen Cleaves and Morris Peterson returned for the 1999-2000 season and as seniors lifted the Spartans to their first NCAA title since Earvin "Magic" Johnson led them to their first in 1979.
"We want to follow the same path Mateen and Morris did," Summers said.
Michigan State started last season ranked No. 2 in the AP preseason poll and likely will have a similar ranking heading into the 2010-11 season, losing only departing senior Raymar Morgan from its 10-man rotation and welcoming a highly touted recruiting class.
"We have a great team, but we have to stay hungry," Lucas said.
The Spartans won the past two Big Ten titles and will be a favorite to repeat, especially if Purdue juniors JaJuan Johnson and guard E'Twaun Moore don't withdraw their names from consideration for the draft.
Michigan State will have three seniors leading the way next season: Lucas, Summers and Chris Allen.
Lucas scored a career-high 14.8 points a game and had his best shooting season, making 45 percent of his shots, while averaging four assists. He scored a career-high 25 points against New Mexico State in the first round of the NCAA tournament before being injured in the next game.
"If Kalin wouldn't have gotten hurt and kept playing like he was, he probably would've left," Izzo said.
Lucas said he had a cast removed recently, ahead of schedule, hopes to be jogging by June and doing drills with teammates by September.
"The doctors say I'm healing fast," he said.
The 6-1 guard from Detroit was the Big Ten player of the year as a sophomore when he averaged 14.7 points and 4.6 assists and made a career-high 39 percent of his 3-point shots. Lucas said he is on pace to graduate with a sociology degree at this time next year.
Summers averaged a career-high 11.3 points last season and was wildly inconsistent. He scored 20-plus points three times and was held scoreless twice.
He was focused enough in the NCAA tourney, though, to match a career high with 26 points in the second round against Maryland and to score 21 versus Tennessee in the regional finals. He averaged 10 points a game last year in the NCAAs, helping Michigan State to the national title game in his hometown of Detroit against North Carolina.
"This year in the tournament, I learned from my ups and downs from the season and put it all together," Summers said. "It made me a better player and person once I bought into everything."
The Spartans were blown out against the Tar Heels last year, and losing in the Final Four last month there's a feeling in East Lansing that 2010-11 could be the season they break through.
"I want to win a third Big Ten title, get to the Final Four for the third time and win a national championship," Summers said. "We can put our group down as one of the best in Michigan State history and make our own footprints in the sand."