We found out in late March that Michigan State Spartans forward/center Nick Ward was testing the waters on his NBA draft stock, and would declare for the NBA Draft without signing an agent (which means he could still return to school).
When most heard of Ward’s plan, many speculated (including myself) he would test at the NBA Combine, and based off of his performance and what he was hearing about his potential to get drafted, he would make a decision from there.
There is a problem with this thought process, however. The NBA Combine invitees list was recently released, and Ward’s name was not on there.
The event takes place from May 16 through May 20. Both Jaren Jackson Jr. and Miles Bridges have accepted their invites to participate in the combine. Ward will more than likely not have the opportunity.
So, now what? As the Detroit Free Press points out, all hope is not lost for Ward just yet. He could end up as an alternate invitee if other players opt-out. He could also work out privately for teams and scouts and hope to impress them, or even decide to play overseas.
Ward has until May 30, 10 days after the combine closes, to decide on whether or not he is returning to Michigan State.
By all accounts, it looks like Ward will still be a Spartan for the 2018-2019 season. He would return as MSU’s leading rebounder (7.1), and his 12.4 points per game last season was barely behind Cassius Winston’s 12.6 PPG, so the duo would return as MSU’s top-two leading scorers from last season.
Of course, much has been made about Ward’s perceived relationship with Tom Izzo as well. Ward struggled against double teams, passing the ball and with foul trouble at times, which often landed him on the bench and/or in the doghouse. He also had a hard time keeping his emotions in check from time to time. But perhaps more was made of this than was actually there.
It seems that Ward returning for his junior season would benefit both him as a player looking to develop, as well as the basketball program as a whole. I would expect to see Ward back, but that decision is obviously on him. We’ll see what happens.