A family affair: Exhibition game highlights familiar faces for two Spartan families


Cassius Winston and Tom Izzo/Photo: MSU Athletic Communications

Henry Menigoz, General Assignment Reporter

EAST LANSING – Michigan State men’s basketball is back. After 207 days, and months of preseason hype, the No. 1-ranked Spartans finally returned to their home court at the Jack Breslin Student Events Center for a preseason matchup against Albion College. 

The contest would prove to be an easy 85-50 victory over the Britons, and a game in which all of the players could get involved. 

But for some Spartans, this preseason game was a little more personal than most. 

For the first time since his days playing high school basketball for University of Detroit Jesuit, senior All-American guard Cassius Winston was able to share the court with his younger brothers. Only this time, they wouldn’t be playing for the same team. 

Cassius Winston/Photo: MSU Athletic Communications

Growing up, the Winston brothers were always close, brought together by their shared love of basketball and playing pickup games in the backyard. Now for the first time in their collegiate careers, brothers Zach (sophomore) and Khy (freshman) would make the trip to East Lansing with their Albion team for an opportunity to show up their older brother. 

“It was great to have the whole family here enjoying this moment,” Cassius Winston said. “It was a lot of fun. Just great to be out there.” 

Zach wouldn’t see the floor due to a hamstring injury suffered earlier in the week, but the youngest Winston got some minutes in the second half. The two siblings, aged three years apart, could be seen trash talking throughout the game. 

When Cassius began pulling down at his brother’s shorts while playing defense, Khy would eventually respond by hitting a 3-pointer over the outstretched hand of his older brother. 

Cassius Winston/Photo: MSU Athletic Communications

“I dared him to shoot it,” Cassius said after the game. “He knocked it down. It was a good shot on his part.”

However, the reigning Big Ten Player of the Year isn’t too worried about his younger brothers getting too confident. 

“I think they know I pretty much dominate in the basketball area,” he joked. “They’re not going to say it, but I feel like they know.”

The family reunions of the night didn’t stop there however, as MSU head coach Tom Izzo and his son also got to share a special moment later in the game. When Steven Izzo checked into the game during the waning minutes of the second half, it marked the first time the freshman guard got to share the court with his dad as a coach. 

“I have to admit, it was cool,” coach Izzo said. 

Izzo had taken some criticism during the offseason for signing his son to the team as a walk on, after Steven averaged only five minutes of play per game during his senior year of basketball at Lansing Catholic High School. However, the coach was sure to make Steven’s role during the game beneficial to all the players. 

Tom Izzo/Photo: MSU Athletic Communications

“I made sure that I didn’t take anyone else’s minutes away. I asked [Foster Loyer], is it okay if I do this? He was great,” Izzo said. “That was his chance for the year, I think he’ll redshirt. He got in the books, I feel good about that for him.”

Steven was somewhat of a fan favorite amongst the members of the Izzone, as the crowd erupted when he made his only point during the front end of a one-and-one foul shot. All his dad remembers, however, is the missed 3-pointer that preceded it. 

“I can’t believe the kid shot an airball the first time in there” he joked. 

The night ended in grand fashion, as Steven dribbled out the clock to seal an 85-50 Michigan State victory. Coach Izzo and his Spartan team will now prepare to travel to Madison Square Garden in New York City for the Champions Classic next Tuesday, against the No. 2-ranked Kentucky Wildcats. You can catch the game live on Impact 89fm.

Contact Henry Menigoz at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @HMenigoz.