GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — For most of the Michigan State Spartans, this trip to the Sweet 16 brought a rare opportunity to visit New York City. For Tyson Walker, it’s a trip home.

New York loves basketball and its boroughs boast some of the best competition in the country.

“Every single day, every single night, you’re playing against someone that’s trying to kill you,” Joe Arbitello, the longtime head coach at Christ the King High School in Queens, said.

Christ the King’s program is one of the most decorated in the city and New York state, with multiple championships and alumni in the NBA.

“We expect to win,” Arbitello said.

It’s the program that produced Tyson Walker, now a guard for Michigan State.

“Every day, you’ve got to play against somebody that you know that can embarrass you and put you on a poster, so he carries that into the NCAA Tournament and I think it’s helped him,” Arbitello said.

Despite graduating from a powerhouse, Walker was a three-star recruit out of high school and played at Northeastern before transferring to MSU.

“Beginning of the season last year, I was kind of struggling and kind of figured it out as the season went on, and now just getting back to my old self,” Walker said.

His numbers are better than ever and he has grown into the Spartans’ go-to guy.

Arbitello said he knew it all along.

“By his sophomore year, I was like, ‘That kid has big-time pro potential,’ and people laughed at me because he was a scrawny little kid,” he said. “I was high on him the day I saw him. And I’m a tough evaluator. I’m not high on a lot of people.”

In the second round of the NCAA Tournament, Walker shined as he led MSU on a second-half surge to beat Marquette. After that game, he was even endorsed by one of the best NBA point guards of all time, with former Spartan Magic Johnson tweeting that Walker will “play in the NBA for sure.”

Arbitello was courtside when the Spartans last played at Madison Square Garden against Rutgers and planned to be at Thursday’s game, too. He said he never gets tired of seeing his former players succeed.

“It still like raises the hair on my arms and sends chills down my back,” he said. “It never gets old and it never gets like, ‘Oh, I’ve been through this already.’ There’s a couple things in basketball that I’ve done that was really exciting the first time I did it and then it became annoying, but just thinking about it right now just makes me the happiest person.”

Tipoff for Michigan State’s matchup against Kansas is at 6:30 p.m.