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Michigan State's Ward to enter NBA draft but not hire an agent

Associated Press • Mar 30, 2018 at 12:19 AM

EAST LANSING — Nick Ward is putting his name into the 2018 NBA Draft but leaving the door open for his return.

The Spartans sophomore center announced will submit his name for the draft but will not hire an agent, Michigan State announced on Thursday.

That means Ward has until May 30 to withdraw his name and return to Michigan State, where he has two more years of eligibility. Submitting his name to the draft allows Ward to go through draft preparations, including team workouts and potentially the NBA combine, without sacrificing his college eligibility should he choose to return.

"I fully support Nick's decision to take the opportunity to explore his draft stock," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said in a statement. "He has continued to improve and worked very hard over the last two years to put himself in this position. The process will allow him to receive direct feedback and an assessment as to where he stands in his dream to play at the highest level."

The announcement comes a day after Miles Bridges announced that he will enter the draft and hire an agent, ending his college eligibility. Freshman forward Jaren Jackson Jr. is also expected to strongly consider entering the draft but has yet to make an announcement.

Unlike Jackson and Bridges, Ward has not been projected as a first-round pick in any published mock drafts, but over the last two years has been one of the better offensive big men in the Big Ten. Ward considered declaring for the draft after his freshman season before ultimately deciding not to.

As a sophomore, Ward averaged 12.4 points and 7.1 rebounds per game while shooting 64.8 percent from the field for the season.

He was at times dominant, shooting better than 90 percent from the field during a four-game stretch in December, and excelled at running the open floor on the fast break.

He also, though, saw limited minutes at times due to defensive concerns and foul trouble. Ward played18.9 minutes per game this past season.

Should Ward depart Michigan State's roster, the team would likely look to freshman forward Xavier Tillman in his starting spot. After playing sparingly for most of the season, Tillman came on strong at the end of the year, recording 12 or more minutes in the team's last five games of the year.

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