#41 RANKED PLAYER IN COUNTRY (CLASS OF 2016)
STAR RANKING: 4 STARS
WEIGHT: 240 POUNDS
AGE: 18 YEARS OLD
POSITION: POWER FORWARD/CENTER
HIGH SCHOOL: Lincoln High School in Ohio
CHOSE MICHIGAN STATE OVER: OHIO STATE, INDIANA,IOWA, PURDUE, AMONG MANY OTHERS
PLAYER SUMMARY: The Spartans were possibly the hottest team entering the NCAA tournament last season. They had All-American Denzel Valentine leading the way and had thoughts of cutting down the nets on the first Monday in April. Then their first round game came and a little known mid-major school called Middle Tennessee State stepped on the floor. 40 minutes later, one of the biggest upsets in NCAA tournament history occurred. The Spartans lost 90-82 and their great season ended in the blink of an eye.
While the stunning first round NCAA tournament loss still stings, head coach Tom Izzo’s job continues. That includes scouring the country for top high school players who fit into his system. Izzo went to Ohio and landed his type of player in power forward/center, Nick Ward. When we first evaluated game footage of Ward, we saw a lot of resemblance of Zach Randolph, himself a former Spartan star.
We firmly believe that Ward is a perfect fit for Michigan State’s style of play as he is very physical, which will serve him well in the Big 10 conference. We were very impressed with his array of offensive moves. He shows nice low-post moves, the ability to hit the mid-range jumper, and has a beautiful touch around the hoop. Being lefty works to his advantage as he is very crafty. His footwork is advanced for a player his age as that can be a problem for younger players to master. He already has it. This is an overlooked skill. His offensive skill-set belies his age.
While we wouldn’t consider the Ohio native an elite athlete, he makes up for it with his tenacity on the glass as he is a rebounding machine on both ends of the court. He will need to get into better shape we believe once he gets to Michigan State. MSU has a renowned strength and conditioning program and Izzo is known to have tough, physical, teams. Once Ward gets on a weight training program in college, it will only make him a better and more explosive player.
Ward will need to improve his passing and mobility for the college level. However his positives certainly outweigh his negatives. Nick Ward is a huge get for Tom Izzo and he fills a position of immediate need as the Spartans lost a lot of their front-court from last season. With his physical play, offensive arsenal, and rebounding ability, we firmly believe he has a chance to make an immediate impact for Michigan State next season. The more video we see of him the more we like him. We believe there isn’t a high school big-man in the class of 2016 who fits the Spartans system as well as Nick Ward.
BELOW ARE HIGHLIGHTS OF NICK WARD
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