There are a lot of interesting things to say about a basketball coach by the name of Carlton Valentine.
For starters, throughout the mid to late 1980s, Valentine was a key player for the Michigan State basketball team. During his college career, the athletic 6’5″ player from Washington D.C. was one of the team leaders in both points and rebounds.
After his playing days were over, Valentine’s basketball career would continue to transfer well into his adulthood. Today, he is the head boy’s basketball coach over at Lansing Sexton High School, just 5 miles away from where he went to college in East Lansing.
Last season, Valentine coached his team to a 28-1 record, leading them to their second straight Class B state championship and third straight finals appearance.
Another interesting fact about Carlton Valentine would be that he also just happens to have two Division 1 college basketball players as sons.
The first of these sons is Drew. Drew is a 6’5” senior for the Oakland Golden Grizzlies. Last year, he averaged 11 points and 7 rebounds for his team, doing so in 35 minutes a game. Drew has developed into quite the leader over at Oakland University, where he has played in 108 games over the course of the past four years.
The second of Carlton’s sons is Denzel. Denzel is a 6’5” freshman at Michigan State who displays a crafty passing touch and started his first game for the Spartans Tuesday against Boise State. So far on the season, he is averaging 6 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists per game.
And on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, Oakland will make the small trek from Rochester to East Lansing where the brothers will square off against each for the first time in an organized setting. For a little bit, it looked like Drew might not be able to play in this game after tweaking a knee on Tuesday against Texas Southern, but according to a team spokesman, he is probable for Friday’s game.
Tip off for the game is scheduled for 8:15 PM at the Breslin Center, where Michigan State (3-1) will hope to keep the ball rolling against Oakland (2-3) as the Izzone is away on Thanksgiving break.
The last time these two teams met was in 2010 at the Palace. In that game, Michigan State narrowly avoided upset, beating Oakland in a close one 77-76.
For this game, Michigan State will be likely be without the aid of two of their star guards as freshman Gary Harris suffered a shoulder strain in the first minute of the game against Boise Tuesday night, putting him out for the next 2-3 weeks. Along with Harris, sophomore Travis Trice is still recovering from a concussion and broken nose he suffered against the season opener against Connecticut and is expected to sit one more game before he returns wearing a mask.
As a result of these two injuries, junior guard Keith Appling will likely once again carry the load at point guard for the Spartans, as he did last game, where he played the entire 40 minutes, putting up 22 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds against a pesky Boise team.
Nevertheless, despite their injury problems, Michigan State should still be able to come out on top in this one.
But there is something unique going on here in this game. Two brothers, playing for separate programs in the same state, one just starting his collegiate career, the other towards the end of his, will be squaring off in an early season college basketball game. Now that is something to be thankful for.
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