EAST LANSING, Mich. — Just a day after his sophomore counterpart announced his intentions to enter the NBA Draft, MSU center Nick Ward is joining the ranks in taking a look at the pros–for now.
Michigan State announced Thursday afternooon that Ward would enter the NBA Draft process without signing with an agent. That allows him to partake in the draft process by working out with teams and attending the combine with the option to return to the Spartans.
“The process will allow him to receive direct feedback and an assessment as to where he stands in his dream to play at the highest level,” MSU coach Tom Izzo said in a statement.
The announcement came just a day after Miles Bridges tweeted his intentions to enter the NBA Draft while signing with an agent.
Ward’s entry makes him eligible at this point to be selected in the draft on June 21. After April 24, he can work out with NBA teams and attend the NBA Draft Combine, which will be held May 16-20 in Chicago. Following that experience, Ward will have until May 30 to decide if he will go forward to the NBA Draft or return to East Lansing for his junior season.
“I fully support Nick’s decision to take the opportunity to explore his draft stock,” Izzo said. “He has continued to improve and worked very hard over the last two years to put himself in this position.”
Ward’s improvement since stepping on campus in the fall of 2016 is no small story. The 6-foot-8 big man led the team in rebounds this season, averaging 7.1 boards per game to go along with his 12.4 points per game, good for third on the Big Ten champion Spartans. He earned an All-Big Ten Third Team selection from the media while receiving honorable mention honors from the coaches.
Those stats came after a breakout freshman season where his play far surpassed expectations set on the former four-star recruit from Gahanna, Ohio. He was second on the team in scoring, averaging 13.9 points per game. His post-up moves make his offensive game tough to defend, even as a smaller center in the physical Big Ten.
Spartan fans now cautiously await the decision for one final underclassman with an NBA future: freshman forward Jaren Jackson Jr. The 6-foot-11 projected lottery pick has yet to announce his plans for next season.