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 Colby Wollenman’s performance review here.
2015-16 stats: 22.9 mins, 10.7 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 56.1% FG, 75.2% FT
Matt Costello made one of the biggest leaps on the Spartan roster last season. He spent the first three years of his career on the cusp of being a great player. Costello knew his role in the perimeter-oriented offense and distributed the ball, hardly looking at the basket. His senior year was different.
Costello was elected captain and took on a larger role off and on the court. He was the go-to scorer in the post, with Gavin Schilling battling injuries, Kenny Goins having a limited role and Deyonta Davis never fully developing a post game. Costello’s post game drastically improved and he tried to extend his range, with moderate success.
Conference play was when Costello went on an absolute tear, averaging 12.5 points and 10.1 rebounds in 18 games. He also became the emotional leader on the court, something he never embraced until this year. Costello was also was one of the only players that decided to show up in the NCAA tournament, posting 22 points and nine rebounds in the shocking loss.
His mentorship of the younger players such as Davis and Matt McQuaid made a difference that transcends the box score. That impact, which came to fruition under the bright lights against Maryland in the Breslin Center, is what will linger on this year’s squad more than anything.
Final Grade: A-
The big ole teddy bear, as I like to call him, had the best season of his career in the green and white, averaging a near double-double, and collecting 10 throughout the season, leading the team. In fact, he recorded three in a row against Penn State, Rutgers and Ohio State, respectively, towards the end of the season in Big Ten play. In a way, he was Michigan State’s MVP.
I know Denzel Valentine was by far the best player for the Spartans, but Costello was one of two proven senior leaders that could do it all. Score down low, shoot from the line, rebound, pass, defend, etc. As you can see above, his statistics were pretty solid. But what he may be remembered best for happened when MSU wore those neon green uniforms, and defeated Maryland at home. As the clock ticked down to 0:00, Costello and Tom Izzo got into a yelling match (the good kind), which ended with the 6’9” senior picking up the Hall of Famer. The moment went viral, and punctuated the biggest win of the Spartans’ season. Costello ended up with 15 points and 12 rebounds to boot, propelling MSU to the all important victory.
Costello’s passion, excitement, desire to lead, and win, ultimately proved dividends for him, as he now gets to pursue his dream: playing professional basketball in the NBA. The Atlanta Hawks gave Costello a contract after playing well during the summer league for them. That same passion, excitement, desire to lead, and win, also led Michigan State to their best start in school history, and one of the best seasons. And although it didn’t end like anyone wanted it to, on behalf of Spartan Nation everywhere, I have two words for Matt Costello: thank you.
Final Grade: A
I have made the argument that Matt Costello was the MVP for Michigan State basketball this season, once you factor out the obvious choice in Denzel Valentine. In Tom Izzo’s system, seniors are counted on to have their best seasons and lead the program both on and off the court. Costello certainly did not disappoint this year.
A highly touted prospect, the 6-foot-9 center’s first few years at Michigan State were a bit underwhelming while he looked up the depth chart at more athletic big men. Even Gavin Schilling held the everyday starting role at center as recently as the 2015 Final Four game against Duke. Although unfortunate, the greatest thing to happen to Costello this season was Schilling’s turf toe injury to begin the season. Costello stepped up and played more minutes than ever before, cementing his role as a difference maker on both ends of the floor. His mix of grit, intelligence, and drive powered him to become a second-team All-Big Ten center.
His two greatest games came under very different circumstances. His emotional play down the stretch against Maryland helped snap a three game losing streak and create the greatest GIF in Michigan State basketball history as he twirled Izzo around like a doll.
On the flip side, I was actually very impressed with Costello’s play in the infamous upset loss to Middle Tennessee State. When the team’s backs were to the wall, Costello was the only Spartan who played like he understood what was at stake. His 22 points on 9-of-10 shooting weren’t enough, but I saw the determination of a Spartan great on display in that contest.
All in all, Costello rounded out his game tremendously this season and was a massive reason for the team’s success. His pro career is in question due to his average athleticism, but there is no question Costello left it all on the court at Michigan State.
Final Grade: A
There are many things that come to mind when I hear the name Matt Costello. From giving Tom Izzo a bear hug in the Maryland game to the tongue wag following his huge dunk in transition against Michigan, those great moments always put a smile on my face. He was the main heart and soul of the team. Replacing that kind of emotion and passion for the next few years might be hard to come by.
The Linwood native has come a long way in terms of progress and growth. His statistics have gradually increased every year as a Spartan. Compared to his Sophomore year, the 6-foot-9 giant increased his margins in points per game (+6.7), rebounds (+4.9), and free throw percentage (+9%).
Costello has showcased a high basketball IQ and an aggressive defender on a consistent basis during his tenure at Michigan State. He was usually regarded as one of the best blockers on the team while dominating in the interior. Costello did a great job of keeping big boys in check down low, as he held his ground as well as anyone in the entire nation. Remember the game saving blocks in the Maryland and Purdue contests? That was Costello living up to his great reputation of delivering in crunch time. Sure, he hasn’t been the most reliable scorer as a forward, but he always found a way to get the job done. Sometimes his greatest contributions on the offensive end happened because of a big time swat or steal to pick up steam.
Costello usually found a way to keep the momentum alive by getting involved in different ways, thanks to his deep versatility. His post game moves were a thing of beauty, using deceiving tactics to his advantage. It often seemed like he favored the baseline.
The Spartans desired outcome was not achieved after their early exit in the 2016 NCAA tournament, but that didn’t stop Costello from closing out his career in style from an individual standpoint. His 22 points off of 9 of 10 shooting reflected his strong work ethic as well as his eagerness, determination and focus. It seemed like he was the only player that was not complacent, which he has displayed time and time again throughout his career. If MSU’s game plan was different by integrating Costello more on offense, then the result could have been different. He still gave Michigan State University more than anyone could ever ask for. And even though he may be looked upon as a secondary player in the future, he’ll always be a legend in my book.
Final Grade: A