{{featured_button_text}}

EAST LANSING, Mich. - Kenny Goins flashed back to the start of his second year at Michigan State.

The day Tom Izzo offered the walk-on a scholarship, Goins remembered staying cool and collected. Or at least trying to.

"It wasn't like a huge reveal in front of the team. I think it was just me and our four coaches and coach Izzo's office they called me in," Goins recalled Tuesday. "I didn't know what it was about, but they told me, 'We're giving you this scholarship, the last one we have.' And I remember kind of remaining calm. I couldn't stop smiling, that was one thing."

It didn't last.

Goins walked out of Breslin Center that fall day, took a few steps and broke down, pausing a few feet from Izzo's office windows. His previous year's gamble, of giving up a chance to play college basketball for free to chase his dream of playing for his beloved Spartans, paid off.

"As soon as I got out, it was right outside by the Magic Johnson statue, I just sat down and started crying," Goins said. "Once I regained myself, I called my parents, and (they were) the first people I told. And just their reaction, my dad's reaction, just seemed like it was relief. It had a full effect on my family, really."

So did Goins' 3-pointer that came with 34.3 seconds left to help the Spartans defeat Duke 68-67 and send them back to the Final Four, where they will face Texas Tech on Saturday in Minneapolis.

The 6-foot-7 senior, who delivered the biggest shot of his life and over the long reach of Zion Williamson, gave himself and his teammates one more weekend of basketball. Goins is the lone remaining member of the Spartans' 2015 Final Four team, capping the year his parents paid for before he went on scholarship.

"Kenny doesn't have a lot of (Final Four experience) since he didn't play in the game," MSU coach Tom Izzo said, "but he had a lot because he was just around it."

Goins scored 10 points and had nine rebounds against Duke, pushing through achy knees to again play 38 minutes and forgetting about his shooting struggles - he was 3 of 11 before hitting the game-winner - to make one of the biggest shots in MSU history.

"He's locked in you know what I'm saying? You know it's different when you know it's your last go-around, your last chance," MSU junior Cassius Winston said. "And he's just every day in practice, film, he's holding guys accountable, bringing that energy, just bringing that flame, just especially for these younger guys they don't know how short it can happen. And luckily they won't know until some other time.

"But he knows that any game could be his last. That's how he's been approaching everything."

That's a big reason why Goins is savoring every moment, every interview, every timeout, even when Izzo yells at him. He made the first basket against Duke, a breakaway dunk, and the last to extend his college career.

He broke away from on-court interviews to visit with his parents. They embraced and posed for pictures on the confetti-covered Capital One Arena floor, the loan they took out to fund Kenny's first year in college paying dividends with a moment that will live in MSU history and their family's memories forever.

Along with a few more tears of joy.

"My parents were the best you could ask for when it came to my recruiting visits and everything. And I kind of made it harder on myself when it came down to actually choosing a place for the financial reasons," Goins said Tuesday. "But just everything they've done for me throughout my entire life, really once I got to finally see them on the court after the game was when I finally started crying. And it was just real emotional to have them along for the ride this entire time.

"They are going to be there in Minneapolis too. Family is a big part of my life and they always will be."

Visit the Detroit Free Press at www.freep.com

0
0
0
0
0

Load comments