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Michigan State’s Aaron Henry declares for NBA Draft

Michigan State v Indiana Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

In an expected move, Michigan State guard/forward Aaron Henry has announced his intention to declare for the 2021 NBA Draft. This is the second consecutive season Henry will test the NBA waters, after he decided to enter his name in the 2020 NBA Draft, but withdrew it last August after getting feedback from league personnel, and ultimately returned to East Lansing for his junior season.

This time, though, it is almost certain that Henry will remain in this year’s draft, and he plans to hire an agent soon — although, hiring an agent no longer means a player automatically cannot return to college, as long as said agent is NCAA-certified.

Henry averaged 15.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.3 blocks and 1.3 steals, while playing 32.5 minutes, per game in the 2020-2021 season. He shot 44.9 percent overall from the field, 29.6 percent on three-pointers and 76.2 from the free-throw line. Henry was the leader and a team captain for the Spartans, and willed Michigan State to several wins this past season —helping MSU extend its NCAA Tournament streak to 23 consecutive appearances.

For his efforts this past season, Henry earned third-team All-Big Ten honors, and was also named to the Big Ten All-Defensive team.

Henry found his way into the starting lineup for Tom Izzo right away, starting 22 games as a freshman, and playing in all 39 contests, in the 2018-2019 campaign — when the Spartans eventually made a Final Four run. Throughout his career, Henry played in 97 games, including 77 starts, while averaging 10.0 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists and nearly one steal per game. He shot 45.7 percent overall, including 33.3 percent from three-point distance, while shooting about 73 percent from the free-throw line in that span.

Currently, the majority of mock drafts have Henry slated as a second-round pick. With an impressive showing throughout the pre-draft process, Henry can certainly improve his stock and work his way up to the first round. He is an excellent defender and quite athletic — two traits the NBA values. If he can work on consistently making shots from deep, and his overall ability to finish at the rim in traffic, Henry could have a solid NBA career.

As for how Henry’s departure affects Michigan State’s scholarship limit, the Spartans are now back to the maximum allotment of 13 scholarships. It’s possible there may still be some attrition to come this offseason, and if Emoni Bates were to reclassify and join MSU for the 2021-2022 season, another player would need to leave the program.

The NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, July 29 at 8 p.m. Prior to that, the NBA Combine is set to begin on June 21 and run through June 27.

Best of luck in all of your future endeavors, Aaron! We will always be rooting for you.

Update: Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo on Aaron Henry’s decision to enter the NBA Draft:

“Aaron Henry making the decision to put his name in for the NBA Draft this year is not surprising and is something I fully support. He and his family went through the exploration process last year and came away with a much better understanding of what he’d need to do in order to make the next step for his basketball career.

Like every college player, Aaron had to go through many adjustments in his workout and practice schedule because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the hurdles he had to go through, Aaron led our team in virtually every statistical category and, in my mind, was one of the best players in the Big Ten Conference. I know Aaron is determined to make this next step in his career and I’m going to give him all the help that I can so that he can achieve his dreams.

Aaron made great contributions to our team over the last three years, from a tremendous run in the NCAA Tournament on the way to the Final Four in 2019 to doing just about everything for us this year as we won some big games down the stretch and reached the postseason for the 23rd-straight year. We will miss him, but can’t wait to see his future.” - Coach Izzo