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Branden Dawson to Return for Senior Season

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Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Press release from MSU here.

via that release, quotes from Dawson:

"I was always pretty sure that I wanted to return for my senior season, but Coach Izzo said he would do what he does for all his players and gather some information. As he started making calls, my mom came up and we met with Coach. The three of us decided that as far as my basketball career, both present and future, and the chance to finish my degree, including possibly needing to take just one class during my final semester, that my initial decision was the correct one. I'm vowing to improve my consistency and am looking forward to a great final season.

"This last year, I made some big improvements in my game as I've worked on my shooting and ball handling. I know that with another offseason of hard work that I can make even more improvement and become more consistent. After not being able to work on my game between my freshman and sophomore seasons due to an injury, I saw what a difference a summer can make last year. I'm ready to put in another summer of work and excited to see the results. I think I played some of the best basketball of my career over the last month, and I can't wait to do that every game next season."

And Izzo:
"As I always do for players with NBA prospects, I did my due diligence of gathering information regarding Branden Dawson's draft status. But before I could get deep into the process, B.J. and his mom came to me and expressed his desire to return for his senior season. I'm excited about his decision because he expressed to me his passion to be more consistent and perform at a high level each and every night. If you look at his numbers over the last seven or eight games, including averaging 16 points and nearly nine rebounds in the NCAA Tournament, I think the outlook is very promising for his senior season. As he continues to develop as a player and perform with greater consistency, he can position himself for a successful NBA career in the future."
Personally, throughout the season, I had always held the opinion that Dawson was likely to jump to professional basketball after this year, particularly when he really picked his level up upon returning from his mid-season injury. But after the team was knocked out of the NCAAs and the dust settled, the chatter was more likely that he'd return to MSU than leave, and that chatter turned out to be correct (I imagine seeing what Payne was able to do by returning for one more year couldn't have hurt).

Obviously, this is huge for MSU's prospects next season, as Dawson provides much needed offensive usage, rebounding, and defense to a team that would've looked a bit undermanned on paper in all three areas without him. He locks down either the starting 3 or 4 spot, which also would've been filled by less proven commodities in his absence.

Simply put, something like Trice-Ellis-Valentine-Dawson-Costello feels like much more of a sure thing than Trice-Ellis-Valentine-Kaminski-Costello or Nairn-Trice-Valentine-Bess-Schilling. Minutes for freshmen wings like Bess and Clark can be given based on merit instead of necessity now, Valentine doesn't have to be forced into time at the 4, and Costello, Schilling, and Kaminski can each continue in more of a rotation that might best feature their current skills (defense, offensive rebounding, and 3 point shooting) while minimizing their current flaws (usage rate, fouls, defense).

Good news is good.