Performance Review: Javon Bess

Impact Izzone will be handing out performance reviews for each Spartan in the following weeks. The series will start with the freshmen and move up the classes. Stay tuned for the rest of our grades! Check out Marvin Clark Jr.’s performance review here.

2015-16 stats: 11.4 mins, 3 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 43.1% FG, 11.1% 3-PT

Blake Froling

Hampered by injury his freshman year, Javon Bess looked poised to make a comeback and play a vital role in Tom Izzo’s rotation. And he did for the first 13 games of the season, getting the starting nod during the entire non-conference season. But when Big Ten play rolled around, Bess found himself increasingly on the bench. At 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, Bess simply could not hang with the bigger, stronger power forwards of the Big Ten.

Bess, like Marvin Clark Jr., saw the writing on the wall and decided to transfer after the season was over. He has some skill as a wing player, and could develop into a solid role player at Akron. He is too small to have any kind of post game and his jump shot is virtually non-existent. He reminds me of a less athletic and slightly smaller Branden Dawson. The difference between the two is that Dawson could jump out of the gym and finally developed a mid-range game, while Bess’ offensive game is still nascent.

Until he can stretch the floor, Bess will be a liability on the court. His defense also leaves something to be desired, and all MSU fans know if you can’t play defense, you can’t play for Tom Izzo.

Final Grade: D

Davey Segal

Contrary to popular belief, Javon Bess wasn’t actually the “Bess”t this past season. Anyways, moving on from that awful joke, Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo has been — and always will be — a huge fan of Bess and his defensive-minded mentality. It goes all the way back to the recruiting process, where Izzo wanted Bess for his defense. However, a season defined by a myriad of injuries, limited playing time, and subpar defensive performance led to his ultimate decision to transfer from East Lansing.

Averaging just shy of 12 minutes per game, Bess only averaged three points, 2.5 rebounds and shot under 50 percent from the floor. Remember: he actually started a handful of games early on in the Spartans’ season. But the aforementioned injuries were his downfall, and unfortunately for Bess, Kenny Goins’ emergence saw his minutes slowly dwindle.

His counterpart, Marvin Clark Jr., has already announced that he will transfer to St. John’s for the remainder of his college career. Bess is relatively strong, but is also undersized to play the power forward position. However, he also lacks the ball skills to play the 3 (small forward), size to play the 5 (center) and shooting to play guard. He will be a solid addition to Akron, but until the injuries leave him, Bess will always leave something to be desired.

Final Grade: D-

David Manion

Javon Bess was expected to make great strides after a subpar freshman year. After being severely hindered in his first year from agony, it seemed that the injury bug left him for good in the beginning of the 2015-2016 campaign. He had no excuses moving forward. Even though he was presented multiple opportunities to become an effective role player, the former Spartan forward failed to take advantage with his condensed 6-foot-5 frame. He struggled to perform at his potential in his short career at MSU. As new guys like Deyonta Davis and Kenny Goins emerged, the Columbus, Ohio product found himself falling in the depth chart and ultimately falling off the map.

Two main reasons sum up his limited playing time and inadequate stats: undersized and underachiever. He was featured in a deep roster of forwards led by Matt Costello and Gavin Schilling. Others soon followed with their steady improvement like Colby Wollenman, along with newcomers with a bold first impression in Davis and Goins. All of these guys were no shorter than 6-foot-6 and they were playing at their peak, which proved to be a huge disadvantage for Bess. He was only 6-foot-5 and the only thing that made him stand out was his lockdown defense. His biggest weaknesses are his free throw shooting and rebounding, as he lacked size and strength to maintain his ground on the interior.

Bess announced that he would be transferring on the same day Marvin Clark did. While Clark is attending St. John’s next year, Bess will join the Akron Zips. If he can remain consistent with his impressive defensive game and clean up his offensive game, he can make an immediate impact at Akron. His two biggest obstacles are his dribbling and range. He will have a higher rate of success if he can conquer both of these aspects. That’s the best starting place for Bess in his reconstruction process.

Final Grade: D

Ryan Cole

Javon Bess, unlike just about every Spartan in Tom Izzo’s 21 years in East Lansing, had two disappointing seasons in a row, and that’s the primary reason that he announced his transfer from MSU to the Akron Zips.

Some of Bess’s lack of production is not necessarily his fault. Most of his freshman year was lost to injury, and it appeared obvious that in the games he did play that season, Bess was still not playing at 100 percent.

Bess’s sophomore season was supposed to show glimpses of what Izzo saw when he recruited the Columbus product, but those glimpses were few and far between, even though he was awarded a starting spot for the beginning of the year. Bess’s size (or lack thereof) did him no favors in his years as a Spartan. At 6-foot-5, he is too small to play power forward, but he doesn’t have the jump shot required of a small forward. Add that on to the fact that Michigan State was so deep this year, and you get an unhappy athlete who never got the playing time he felt he was worthy of.

I never saw anything noteworthy in Bess’s game to make me believe Izzo didn’t just recruit him to fill a scholarship after missing out on higher-profile recruits in the 2014 recruiting cycle. The supposed strength in Bess’s game was his ability to drive to the basket, but that often backfired on him because he was a liability at the free throw line, only shooting 57 percent. Since he can’t really change his height, I would think Bess will spend much of his year off at Akron working on a jump shot and becoming a more well-rounded small forward.

Final Grade: D