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Jeff Eisenberg

It's up to Tom Izzo whether Chris Allen returns next season

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Amid rampant speculation that Chris Allen won't return to Michigan State next season, both the senior guard and his head coach addressed the situation last weekend.

On the one hand, Allen told WILX-TV, "Everything's fine. All this stuff is just rumors. You heard it here from me." On the other hand, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo reiterated to WLNS-TV that nothing has changed since he last addressed the topic last month and that Allen "still has some things to prove both on and off the court."

So what can we take from those two brief snippets? Well, two things.

1. Allen has no intention of leaving Michigan State of his own volition. 2. The decision whether Allen will return next season is entirely up to Izzo.

The rift between Izzo and Allen first became public before the Big Ten tournament last March when the coach suspended the 6-foot-3 guard for an accumulation of team rules violations. Exactly what Allen did to draw Izzo's ire remains unclear, but it did not prevent him from playing during Michigan State's Final Four run.

What's no mystery is how much Allen's presence would enhance Michigan State's national title hopes next season. He averaged 8.2 points, shot 39.8 percent from 3-point range and played stellar perimeter defense last year, making him the favorite to start alongside Kalin Lucas on a team that will be a favorite to win the Big Ten championship and perhaps a national title.

If Izzo doesn't invite Allen back, depth becomes an issue for Michigan State, but it's not as though there isn't plenty of talent. NCAA tournament hero Korie Lucious would likely move into the starting lineup alongside Kalin Lucas and Durrell Summers, with 6-foot-3 incoming freshman Keith Appling, Michigan's Mr. Basketball, in position to play a bigger role than previously expected.

Allen has been playing in the Lansing Moneyball pro-am league this summer and appears determined to get out of Izzo's dog house. We'll find out as the new season approaches whether he's successful.

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