Long Time Friends A.J. Hoggard, Tyson Walker Compete For Michigan State Basketball PG Job

EAST LANSING — Tom Izzo quickly quipped that his point guard battle between A.J. Hoggard and Tyson Walker was a “quarterback controversy.” Even jokingly compared them to Oklahoma football’s Spencer Rattler and Caleb Williams.

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In reality, one of the biggest salesmen for Walker to transfer from Northeastern to Michigan State basketball during the offseason happened to be his chief competitor for minutes: Hoggard.

“I just told him it's a real family,” Hoggard, a sophomore, said after practice Wednesday. “A lot of schools preach it, I've been through it. … It's truly a family, truly a brotherhood here. I just told him if he comes here, he's gonna be locked in from Day 1, and everybody's gonna show him love.”

Michigan State's Tyson Walker, right, moves past A.J. Hoggard, center, and Marcus Bingham Jr. during open practice on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, at the Breslin Center in East Lansing. © Nick King/Lansing State Journal Michigan State's Tyson Walker, right, moves past A.J. Hoggard, center, and Marcus Bingham Jr. during open practice on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.

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And after a 2020-21 season in which Izzo blamed himself for persistent problems at point guard that almost led to his NCAA tournament streak ending, the Spartans feel Hoggard and Walker present advantages running the offense as they battle for the starting job.

“They're both like New York City cab drivers,” Izzo said Wednesday. “They get along well together, they both work very hard. They're a little different — one shoots it better than the other, one's bigger and stronger; one defends on the ball a little bit better, one rebounds a little better. So I think it's gonna be a good combination. And if we run like I want to run, we're gonna have to put more guys in.”

MSU, which went 15-13 while being eliminated in the NCAA tournament's First Four by UCLA, struggled to find an answer at point guard. Foster Loyer opened as the starter, followed by Rocket Watts took over, but both struggled for various reasons and left the program. Loyer transferred to Davidson and Watts to Mississippi State.


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