On the heels of their Final Four appearance in the 2015 NCAA Tournament, the future keeps getting brighter for the Michigan State Spartans as the off-season progresses.
In the early portion of April, the Spartans got a massive, albeit surprising, commitment from big man Caleb Swanigan. Swanigan was rumoured to be heading to California to become a Golden Bear, but he caught everyone off guard by committing to Michigan State.
Just when it looked like things couldn’t get any better for Tom Izzo and the Spartans, they did.
On Wednesday evening, four-star big man Nick Ward committed to Michigan State for the 2016-17 season.
Ward is a 6’8”, 230-pound center out of Gahanna, Ohio and Lincoln High School. He is ranked 47th in ESPN’s Top 60 recruits for the class of 2016, and is the 7th-ranked center in the class.
In Ward, the Spartans are getting a lefty big man who is a strong presence in the paint because of his size and length (7′ wing span). He’s a powerful big man and is a force on the offensive glass, but he also has a soft touch around the rim which allows for him to get easy baskets on tip-ins and lay-ups.
One knock on Ward is his lack of vertical movement. He rarely will finish above the rim, and has some trouble when matched up against more athletic big men in the post. He seems to be better suited as a center in a smaller lineup for the Spartans, similar to what they ran sometimes this past year with Branden Dawson.
Landing a commitment like Ward is a big building block for the 2016-17 edition of the Spartans. The Ohio native has a ton of potential, and could develop into quite the player for Tom Izzo in East Lansing.