With the 2020-2021 Michigan State men’s basketball season over, we will take individual looks at how each Spartan performed over the course of the season.
We will begin the series with arguably the most consistent player and (with not much argument) biggest star on Michigan State, junior guard/forward Aaron Henry.
Averages per game: 32.5 minutes, 15.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.3 blocks, 1.3 steals, 44.9% field goal percentage, 29.6% three-point percentage, 76.2% free throw percentage
Basically around the midseason mark, Aaron Henry decided that this was his team and that he needed a tremendous effort to put his mark not only on this year, but maybe also on his Michigan State career. The versatile forward with a tendency to take a backseat to others in the past finally demanded the ball and became the type of leader everyone envisioned him to be. He was vocal with teammates, became a much more prolific scorer and played his well known suffocating defense on top of that. While his outside shooting was spotty most of the year, he developed into an elite scorer on all three levels down the stretch. Plain and simple, without him the Spartans‘ tournament streak is over and it wouldn’t have been close.
Henry earned third-team All-Big Ten honors and also earned a spot on the Big Ten All-Defensive Team. If he would have played all year like he did during the second half of the season, there is no doubt more accolades would’ve come his way. He really learned how to become a strong isolation scorer and someone who could decide a game in crunch time. His effort down the stretch was impeccable, as he almost never left the floor and gave everything he had for the greater good of the team.
As good as Henry was in the late stages of the season, he left a lot to be desired early on. His effort, his defensive intensity and his concentration wavered too often and his three-point shot was almost nonexistent at the beginning of the year. He even had to come off the bench twice, something that should have never ever happened considering his role and his importance for this team. While his overall numbers are fine, you had to wonder if he couldn’t have been a little better rebounder with his elite level athleticism.
His overall play in the NCAA Tournament against UCLA was good, but unfortunately he could not make the plays when it counted in that game. Henry not boxing out a free throw shooter late in the game is an image that you want to forget, but basically it was kind of exemplary for the team’s entire year. In overtime you had to wonder if he didn’t run out of gas for once, something that would be more than understandable considering his tremendous effort the three-plus weeks prior.
It seems to be a foregone conclusion that Aaron Henry will enter the NBA Draft for good this year after already testing the waters last summer. You really have to applaud the sheer will with which Henry carried this squad into the NCAA Tournament and it cemented the fact that his legacy in East Lansing is a great one. He will truly leave a big void and if he somehow would return for a senior season, he would have a chance to go down as one of the best players in the entire Tom Izzo era.
OVERALL SEASON GRADE