WARREN — It’s a very difficult decision for anyone to turn down a free college education, but Warren Mott senior basketball player Ken Goins did just that when he decided to walk on at Michigan State University instead of taking one of the multiple scholarship offers he received.
Goins, a 6-foot-8-inch forward, will join the MSU program as a preferred walk on, a player who is promised a roster spot and who reports with the scholarship players for fall camp a few weeks before classes start. He is not on scholarship, but can earn scholarships as they become available.
“It’s been a dream of mine to play at MSU since I was about 5 years old,” said Goins, named MVP of the Macomb Area Conference White Division this season. “I just decided to chase my dreams and work for the best.”
Goins had an outstanding senior season, averaging 22.6 points, 17.1 rebounds and 4.8 blocks per game as a helped lead Mott to the program’s first district and regional championships. His play led to several scholarship offers from schools such as the University of Detroit-Mercy, Central Michigan University, Oakland University and Wayne State University.
Goins’ deep love for the green and white ultimately led him to spurn all other offers and walk on at Michigan State. He attends each MSU football game with family and even was on hand when the Spartans’ football team won the 2014 Rose Bowl.
“Kenny has bled green for as long as I’ve known him,” said Marauders coach Jeff Olind, who in two years has guided the team on the most successful stretch in its history. “He loves the campus.
“Having attended MSU and being a Spartan fan, myself, my wife and I also have season tickets for football, and whenever we’ve met up with (Goins) in East Lansing, he just always looked like he was in his element. He was already a part of the Michigan State family. Now, it’s just official.”
Goins said he sought out advice from Olind and members of his family. Whenever he couldn’t process something, Goins said, he would look to his coach and family for advice and help with making decisions.
Goins will see a contrast in coaching styles when he arrives in East Lansing. MSU coach Tom Izzo is known for his fiery personality. Olind admitted he told Goins he would get yelled at a lot more, once he got to college.
“Kenny is smart enough, listens and has been around the game enough now to know what to expect from Coach Izzo,” Olind said. “The Spartans coaches are intense, and they expect nothing but full dedication to the program.”
“(Izzo’s) prestige is unmatched,” Goins said. “After watching him as a fan for so long, I see the respect he gets, and I can’t wait to join a top-of-the-line program.”
Goins is the fourth member of MSU’s 2014 recruiting class. The Spartans have 12 players eligible to return next season, which means playing time as a walk on could be sparse.
Goins said he understands what he is walking into.
“It won’t be easy,” he said. “There will be very little playing time, if any, for me at first. But I have four years there, so hopefully, I can work my way up the roster.”
Goins knows there will be more to his collegiate life than basketball. He’s a strong student and also served as student class president in each of his four years at Mott. He plans to study business advertising or finance at MSU.
“I’m comfortable and know I’ll get a great education in East Lansing,” Goins said. “I’ve been around the campus so much that it feels like home to me.”
It’s often said that home is where the heart is. Olind said that’s how Goins ultimately made his decision.
“It’s always hard to turn down a free education,” Olind said. “Kenny’s parents must have raised him with the same advice my parents gave me: listen to your heart. That’s exactly what Kenny did. If he didn’t go to MSU, I think (Goins) would have always been living with ‘what if I went to (MSU)?’ hanging over him.
“Now, he has a chance to live out his dream, and we all wish him nothing but the best.”
“I just want to enjoy the experience overall,” Goins said. “I want to get a great education, leave with a degree and have a great career on the basketball court as a teammate, leader and player.”