6 NBA stars who played for the Michigan State Spartans



As one of the most famous programs in college basketball, the Michigan State Spartans have produced several NBA stars. From current All-Stars to basketball Hall of Famers, Michigan State has been home to basketball icons.

The Michigan State Spartans haven’t won a championship since 2000. They are, however, one of only fifteen teams to win multiple titles. The Spartans’ two championship teams have also produced two of their best NBA players.

Even when the Michigan State Spartans weren’t winning championships, they were competing for them. All but one of the players on this list have participated in the NCAA Tournament. Four made the Final Four and two won titles.

More importantly, all six players had an impact or are having an impact on the NBA. With the continued success of the Michigan State Spartans program, there will likely be more NBA successes soon.

6. Jaren Jackson Jr.

Jaren Jackson Jr. played college basketball for a year before being drafted into the NBA.
Jaren Jackson Jr. played college basketball for a year before being drafted into the NBA.

Jaren Jackson Jr. is one of the most recent Spartans to find success in the NBA. The 2022 NBA block leader is making a name for himself as a defensive star and playoff contender.

Prior to playing in the NBA, Jackson Jr. showed his defensive prowess in college basketball. For perspective, Jaren Jackson Jr. broke the blocking record at Michigan State in his only season with the Spartans.

It was the number 100 block of the year for Jaren Jackson Jr. The previous school record was 72

Although the Michigan State Spartans did not have a hugely successful season under Jackson Jr., they still made it to the NCAA Tournament. He failed to win a college basketball championship, but he could still win one in the NBA.

5. Draymond Green

Draymond Green is Michigan State's second most successful NBA player.
Draymond Green is Michigan State’s second most successful NBA player.

Draymond Green is part of one of the greatest teams in NBA history, but his success started in college. Green was one of the greatest players in Michigan State basketball history before entering the NBA.

During his time with the Michigan State Spartans, Green helped his team to two Final Four appearances and a national championship loss. In Green’s final college basketball season, he established himself as a Michigan State Spartans legend.

He earned Conference Player of the Year honors during his senior season. It proved there was something to Draymond Green. Once he entered the NBA, he continued his development and helped build an NBA dynasty.

4. Zach Randolph

Before Jaren Jackson Jr. moved from Michigan State to the Memphis Grizzlies, Z-Bo did.
Before Jaren Jackson Jr. moved from Michigan State to the Memphis Grizzlies, Z-Bo did.

Zach Randolph established the prototype for what Jaren Jackson Jr. would eventually do. Z-Bo played a year with the Michigan State Spartans before becoming a first-round pick in the NBA Draft.

While Zach Randolph didn’t start his career with the Memphis Grizzlies like Jackson Jr., both had an impact on the team. Oddly enough, the Michigan State Spartans continue to head to Memphis and become stars.

Grizzlies love big Spartans, huh? Zach Randolph, Deyonta Davis, Jaren Jackson Jr and now Xavier Tillman

With the Michigan State Spartans, Randolph helped the team reach another Final Four, capping a three-year streak of dominance. Z-Bo played in one season of this run, but another NBA star played two seasons and won a championship.

3. Jason Richardson

Jason Richardson has gone from winning national championships to slam dunk contests.
Jason Richardson has gone from winning national championships to slam dunk contests.

Jason Richardson didn’t have NBA success like his college teammate Zach Randolph, but he became an all-time great dunker. Before winning two slam dunk contests, Richardson reached two Final Fours and won an NCAA championship.

Although Richardson did not have success in the NBA, his shooting and dunking earned him fan recognition. As the former Michigan State standout got older, he entertained fans with his dunking prowess.

Strangely, Richardson and fellow Spartan Draymond Green are from the same hometown, same college, and same NBA first team. The Memphis Grizzlies and Golden State Warriors seem to like Michigan State’s former Spartans.

2. Kevin Willis

Kevin Willis is the second oldest player in NBA history and the oldest since the NBA-ABA merger.
Kevin Willis is the second oldest player in NBA history and the oldest since the NBA-ABA merger.

Kevin Willis may have the most unique basketball career compared to other players who wore green and white. For perspective, Willis was drafted in 1984, made his first All-Star team in 1992 and won an NBA championship in 2003.

Before Willis joined the Michigan State Spartans, he played two years of high school basketball and one year at junior college. While Willis didn’t play much basketball before Michigan State, he played 21 seasons in the NBA after college.

Steve Kerr tells a story of his Spurs days with Kevin Willis😂 https://t.co/S5EWch64RQ

Joking aside, Kevin Willis managed to play twenty-one seasons in twenty-three years because he found roles to play. Despite his longevity, Willis’ lack of further success kept him out of the Basketball Hall of Fame.

1. Magic Johnson

Magic Johnson is one of the best players in the Michigan State Spartans and the NBA.
Magic Johnson is one of the best players in the Michigan State Spartans and the NBA.

Magic Johnson is one of the greatest basketball players in history. He proved it at all levels. Johnson won a high school championship, a college national championship with the Michigan State Spartans, and multiple NBA championships.

While victory alone would make him a basketball legend, he managed to be one of the best people in history. Despite everything that has happened to him in his life, Johnson has managed to maintain his smile and his love for basketball.

This moment between Bill Russell, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird will warm your heart 🥺 (via @NBA) https://t.co/BChzCowOXT

Johnson wanted to be one of the greatest players in NBA history, and he did a great job of achieving that status. Without his health issues, Johnson may have become the greatest basketball player of all time.


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