« Men’s Basketball 2015-16

Denzel Valentine

Michigan State


Denzel Valentine is a communication major on pace to graduate in May 2016.


Valentine was a two-year tri-captain for the Spartans. Head Coach Tom Izzo ranks him among the top five leaders in his 21 years as head coach. Perhaps his best trait according to Izzo is that Valentine is a vocal leader who likes to drag others along, especially into the practice gym to work on their games.


Throughout his college career, Valentine was among the most active community volunteers on the Spartan basketball team. His events included a Cinderella Event (event to honor elementary students who raised money for Coaches vs. Cancer), arranging a meet and greet with a terminally ill patient whose lifetime wish was to meet the men’s basketball team, working with at-risk youth from the Lansing area, coordinating team visits to the Sparrow Hospital Pediatric Ward, and participating in National Walk to School Event with Lansing Public Schools. As a lifelong resident of Lansing, Valentine has an extra close connection to the local community and is always looking for ways to be a positive role model for local children.


As a senior, Valentine averaged 19.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and 7.8 assists in becoming the only player in NCAA history to average 19 points, seven rebounds and seven assists since the assist became an official statistic in 1983-84. He is the first player to lead the Big Ten in overall scoring and assists since Iowa’s Andre Woolridge in 1997. He ranked fourth in the nation in assists (7.8 apg), eighth in 3-point field goals per game (3.35) and 12th in 3-point field-goal percentage (.444).

His senior season began on a strong note, posting his first career triple-double in the second game of the season with 29 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists against Kansas. Nine days later, he posted another triple-double with 29 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists against Boston College. Valentine led the Big Ten with 12 double-doubles. In games which he started, Valentine made or assisted on 50.9 percent of Michigan State’s field goals. His 241 assists rank as the third-best single-season total at MSU and the most by a Spartan senior, while his 104 made 3-pointers are the fourth-best single-season total. His 19.2 ppg scoring average is the best at Michigan State since Maurice Ager averaged 19.3 in 2005-06.

Valentine finished his career with 1,645 points, 856 rebounds and 639 assists, becoming the first player in Big Ten history to record 1,300 points, 700 rebounds and 500 assists. In MSU history, he ranks third in career assists (639), third in career games played (144), fourth in career 3-point field goals made (265) and attempted (650), ninth in career rebounds (856), tied for ninth in career games started (117) and 11th in career scoring (1,645). He is the only player in Michigan State history to rank in the career top 10 in both assists and rebounds. 

Postseason awards are quickly accumulating for Valentine. As of March 29th, he’d won four National Player of the Year awards from the NABC, Basketball Times, Sports Illustrated, USA TODAY Sports and NBC Sports. He also had been named a first-team All-American by the USBWA, Sporting News, USA TODAY Sports and Sports Illustrated as well as being named a John R. Wooden Award All-American. He became the eighth Spartan to be named Big Ten Player of the Year, and he was a unanimous first-team All-Big Ten selection. He followed by leading MSU to a Big Ten Tournament championship and earning Most Outstanding Player honors. In addition, he was named the USBWA All-District V Player of the Year.