How did Phoenix Suns' new owner Mat Ishbia fare at basketball in college? All you need to know

Mat Ishbia played for the Michigan State Spartans from 1999 to 2002
Mat Ishbia played for the Michigan State Spartans from 1999 to 2002

Arizona's professional basketball teams, the NBA's Phoenix Suns and the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury are getting a new owner in Mat Ishbia. The Detroit-based billionaire is purchasing the franchises for a record $4 billion, $700 million more than what Joe Tsai paid ($3.3bn) for the Brooklyn Nets in 2019.

Ishbia isn't just a rich businessman looking to make an investment in the growing sports industry, but is actually extremely passionate about basketball. He played for the Michigan State Spartans under Hall of Fame coach Tom Izzo and knows how to run a hoops franchise.

In 2021, he donated $32 million to his alma mater for a new football building and massive overhauls to the athletics facilities.

As the Phoenix Suns start a new chapter and try to forget the unruly tenure of Robert Sarver, let's take a look at Mat Ishbia's time on the university hardwood.

How was Mat Ishbia's college career at Michigan State?

Mat Ishbia (left) played for the Michigan State Spartans from 1999 to 2002 [Source: SB Nation]
Mat Ishbia (left) played for the Michigan State Spartans from 1999 to 2002 [Source: SB Nation]

Mat Ishbia didn't have a memorable college career, but he does know the ins and outs of basketball.

He was a walk-on for the Michigan State Spartans, the alma mater of Magic Johnson and Draymond Green. He barely played over two minutes per game and always laced up during garbage minutes. Ishbia played just one minute in the 2000 NCAA Final championship game and didn't record any statistics.

Overall, he played for the team from 1999 to 2002, winning the NCAA title in 2000. He went to the Final Four in three straight seasons and even though he warmed the bench, that experience was worthwhile.

Mat Ishbia averaged 0.6 points, 0.3 rebounds, 0.3 assists and 0.1 steals per game in his college career. He played 48 total games and started just one, averaging 2.4 minutes per game.

His best season was his junior year when he started one game out of 13. He shot 66% from downtown that season while averaging 1.1 points and 0.7 assists per game.

Ishbia's most significant performance on the NCAA stage was in the south regional first-round against Alabama State in 2001. The Spartans blew out the Hornets 69-35 and Ishbia played three minutes, grabbing two rebounds.

As reported by BBC Sport, he spoke about his connection to basketball after the Suns' purchase was announced and said:

"Basketball is at the core of my life, from my high school days as a player to the honor of playing for Coach Izzo and winning a national title at Michigan State University."

At 42 years of age, Ishbia is set to become the youngest team owner in the NBA. He is the CEO and chairman of United Wholesale Mortgage and is worth close to $5 billion. His brother Justin Ishbia will also make a significant investment and serve as an alternate governor of the two franchises.

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Edited by Anantaajith Raghuraman
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