Nick Ward Is On Multiple Missions

Nick Ward Is On Multiple Missions

Basketball

Nick Ward Is On Multiple Missions

Michigan State improved to 9-2 with its 104-83 victory over Green Bay on Sunday night.  Nick Ward scored a career-high 28 points – and it was yet another stellar performances for the Spartan big man who is making the most of this season.

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Any time there is a Spartan who is considering entering the NBA Draft despite not being a “lock” for a high position in the draft, I can’t help but think of Marcus Taylor.

Marcus Taylor, of course, departed Michigan State after two good seasons in Green & White due, in large part, to all of the voices around him (none of which knew what they were talking about) who were saying it was time for Taylor to get paid.

Taylor was a Naismith All-American, a McDonald’s All-American, a two-time Parade All-American, and a USA Today 1st Team All-American as a high school star at Lansing’s Waverly.  Taylor was also named Mr. Basketball for the state of Michigan in 2000.

All of the stars were aligned for Taylor.

He was Michigan State’s point guard or two seasons before entering the NBA Draft.

In his sophomore season he became only the second player in Big Ten history to lead the conference in scoring and assists.

After that sophomore year, Taylor and his entire entourage believed he was ready to make the jump.

Marcus was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the second round of the NBA Draft (the 52nd overall pick) in 2002.

He played for the Timberwolves Pro Summer League in July of 2002 and a few NBA pre-season games for the T-Wolves.

Taylor never played in a regular season game for any team in the NBA.

From 2002 through 2011, the teams that Marcus Taylor played for included:

ASVEL Basketball.

Southern Crescent Lighning.

MENT Vaassilakis.

Albuquerque Thunderbirds.

Tulsa 66ers.

TBB Trier.

Anaheim Arsenal.

Taylor now owns a successful training business in Michigan and we’re happy that he’s found his way, that he’s adjusted to life after basketball, and that, by all accounts, he’s a happy man.

But Tom Izzo was pretty vocal back around the time Taylor’s future was being debated after his sophomore year at Michigan State.

Izzo thought he could use, at least, one more season at Michigan State for any number of reasons.

But Taylor made the decision to bolt and run for the money.

It didn’t go the way Taylor – and his entourage – thought it would go.

Which brings us to Nick Ward.

Nick Ward might end up going down as the best example of a guy making a smart, mature, and long term decision to stay in college rather than head off to the NBA too early.

Nick Ward flirted with the idea of entering the NBA Draft, as we all know, at the end of last season.

And the way he went about making his decision – talking with as many people as possible, talking with Izzo, listening to the critiques that might have been hard for him to hear – give us all plenty of reason to think that Nick Ward is going to be successful doing whatever he ends up doing with life over the long haul.

But, for right now, Ward is showing everyone that his decision to come back for another season at Michigan State is proving to be a great move.

On Sunday night, Ward was 12 for 13 from the floor, scored a career-high 28 points, and grabbed 9 rebounds.

That performance didn’t come out of nowhere.

How about a game-by-game look at his previous four games:

WIN At Florida, Michigan State 63 – Florida 59

  • Minutes played: 21
  • Field Goals: 6 of 8
  • Free Throws: 1 of 1
  • Rebounds: 5
  • Blocks: 1
  • Points: 13

WIN vs Iowa, Michigan State 90 – Iowa 68

  • Minutes: 23
  • Field Goals: 10 of 10
  • Free Throws: 6 of 11
  • Rebounds: 9
  • Blocks: 2
  • Points: 26

WIN at Rutgers, Michigan State 78 – Rutgers 67

  • Minutes: 24
  • Field Goals: 7 of 12
  • Free Throws: 6 of 11
  • Rebounds: 5
  • Blocks: 0
  • Points: 20

LOSS at Louisville, Louisville 82 – Michigan State 78

  • Minutes: 27
  • Field Goals: 5 of 8
  • Free Throws: 4 of 6
  • Rebounds: 3
  • Blocks: 0
  • Points: 14

Over the course of the last five games, Nick Ward is 40 of 51 from the floor.

That’s good for a field goal percentage of .784.

Should we state that again?

Ward is shooting 78% from the floor over five games.

Over the last five games, he’s averaging 20 points.

And while all of this offensive firepower is fantastic, Tom Izzo is probably happiest with Ward’s defense.

Even Nick Ward would say that he’s had a tendency to lose focus from possession to possession in the past.

He’s playing with focus, fire, and very real skill.

He’s developed (or, more specifically, improved on) terrific quick spin moves with the ball low in the post that have made people see him as a very real NBA prospect.

So far, Nick Ward is making the most of every minute of this season.

He’s already boosted his draft stock.

And it sure does look like he’s determined to make this a special season for Izzo and his teammates.

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