Watch a clip from Heathcote's 'Icons' show

Michigan State’s legendary Jud Heathcote, who led the Spartans to 339 wins in 19 seasons as the head men’s basketball coach, was profiled Saturday in a new episode of Big Ten Icons, presented by Discover. Hosted by Hall of Fame broadcaster Keith Jackson, the show included new one-on-one interviews with Heathcote; Michigan State coach Tom Izzo; award-winning journalists Jack Ebling and Dan Wetzel; former MSU All-American Greg Kelser and others.

Heathcote led Michigan State to three Big Ten championships and nine NCAA Tournaments, highlighted by four Sweet 16 appearances, two berths in the Elite 8 and the 1979 national title. After arriving in East Lansing in 1976, Heathcote quickly established a new basketball culture by adapting his team’s style to his players’ talent. This hallmark coaching philosophy was perhaps most evident when he recruited a 6’9 Lansing native to play point guard.

“Magic Johnson was not looking at Michigan State that hard until Jud Heathcote said, ‘You come play for me, you can be a point guard,'” Wetzel said. “That was the game changer. It didn’t just change Magic Johnson. It didn’t just change Michigan State. It changed basketball forever.”

Heathcote developed seven All-Americans before stepping away from the MSU sidelines in 1995. Before retiring, he left one final, indelible mark on the program by insisting that then-assistant coach Tom Izzo be named his successor.

“He helped me develop as a coach while he was still the coach, and most people wouldn’t do that,” Izzo said. “I really appreciated that. He helped me grow, and I think that’s why we had success when I got the job.”

1 Comment

Your Opinion?
Show Comments (1 Comment)
jim slavin on 5/5/2012 @ 11:00pm EDT Said:

dad and jud were best friends played hoops together at WSU. dad past away 2 years ago and Jud was the featured speaker at dads funeral. they played a ton of handball tourneys together. dad won several national handball titles. jud would usually take credit for dads successes. it was partly true. jud and bev are my parents best friends, wonderful folks one of the greatest coaches ever.