Basketball

East Lansing grad McCutcheon aims to contribute for MSU women

Freshman guard Taryn McCutcheon poses for a portrait on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016 during MSU's women's basketball media day at the Breslin Center.

Freshman guard Taryn McCutcheon poses for a portrait on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016 during MSU’s women’s basketball media day at the Breslin Center.

EAST LANSING – Taryn McCutcheon helped transform the East Lansing girls basketball team into a state title contender after her arrival to Michigan last winter.

Now she’s trying to make an impact for the Michigan State women’s basketball team.

The 5-foot-5 freshman point guard is among a group of new faces trying to help the Spartans to another successful season under coach Suzy Merchant.

And this is a moment McCutcheon has been waiting several years for.

McCutcheon was the first recruit in MSU’s 2016 class and has been committed to the Spartans since early in her sophomore year at Parkersburg South High School in West Virginia.

“It’s always like a joke with everybody that I’ve been committed here since I was like 7 years old,” McCutcheon said Wednesday during MSU’s media day.

“It feels like I’ve been waiting forever just to like be actually a part of this team. It’s going to be a great experience and like pretty much a dream come true when I get to play that first time.”

McCutcheon, who scored more than 1,500 points during a successful prep career that ended by leading East Lansing to a deep state tournament run in March, has visions of using her skill set to make an impact during her time as a Spartan. She is part of what Merchant described Wednesday as a versatile roster that can help the Spartans compensate for the loss of Aerial Powers to the WNBA.

McCutcheon is also part of the Spartans’ point guard depth and could see time at the position with junior Morgan Green, senior Tori Jankoska and transfer Shay Colley, who could be eligible in the second semester depending on an NCAA decision.

Merchant believes McCutcheon, as well as classmates Nia Hollie and Mardrekia Cook, have a chance to transition well to the college level and make an impact because of their high IQ’s and ability to pick things up quickly.

“(Taryn is) a highly competitive and driven kid,” Merchant said. “She can really shoot it up to 26, 28 feet. When you can do that, you can do a lot of things. She really to me has a nice poise and flow about her between scoring the ball and setting people up. Sometimes you struggle with young point guards where all they want to do is pass it and sometimes they are too ball dominant and all they want to do is score it.

“For her, what I’ve been impressed with between August and our time over in Europe as well as now is that she really understands to take what the defense gives her. She doesn’t make something out of nothing. When someone is playing off her, she’ll shoot it and it’s always in the flow of what we’re trying to do and never forced.”

Contact Brian Calloway at bcalloway@lsj.com. Follow him on Twitter @brian_calloway.

Freshman guard Taryn McCutcheon poses for a portrait on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016 during MSU's women's basketball media day at the Breslin Center.

Freshman guard Taryn McCutcheon poses for a portrait on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016 during MSU’s women’s basketball media day at the Breslin Center.

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