Michigan State shooting guard Aaron Henry will withdraw from the NBA draft and return to school, he told ESPN Sunday.
"This decision was based off wanting to maximize my opportunity to be coached by the best coach in the game in Tom Izzo and reach my dreams and full potential," Henry told ESPN. "I wanted to put myself in the best situation possible and not rush anything to make sure I start my career on the right foot. This was a tough decision, but Year 3 will be the year."
The NCAA deadline for players to withdraw from the NBA draft and maintain college eligibility is Monday.
Henry, a 6-foot-6 sophomore, was ranked the No. 55 prospect in the ESPN 100. A long, athletic wing with strong two-way potential, Henry will be asked to shoulder a bigger load next season on a Spartans squad that relied heavily on now-departed All-America senior point guard Cassius Winston.
"Cassius leaves big shoes to fill. He was asked to do everything for Michigan State," Henry said. "I'm hoping to step into a bigger role with the ball in my hands. Things will definitely look different. Everyone is going to need to step up and be a piece to the puzzle. NBA teams want to see me in a bigger role. They want to see me be the man on a team. I'm not afraid of that. Let's get to it."
Michigan State forward Xavier Tillman is keeping his name in the NBA draft, ending his college career after three seasons with the Spartans.
As a junior, Tillman averaged 13.7 points, 10.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.1 blocks, while shooting 55.0% from the field.
The NBA draft, originally scheduled for June 25, is now postponed to Oct. 16.
NBA front offices have been preparing to make decisions about prospects without a traditional pre-draft process -- which typically includes access to private workouts, a draft combine or pro days -- due to the limitations likely to be in place because of the risks associated with the coronavirus pandemic, particularly commercial travel.
"That played a big part, not being able to work out for teams," Henry said. "Not be able to get up close and show them specific things they had question marks about. I think a lot of those questions would have been answered if the pandemic wasn't going on. The virus played a huge part in people's decision. Players like me who depend on things like workouts or the NBA combine to raise my stock. We needed that. It is what it is. I'm not mad or pressed about it."
Henry's return is a major boon to a Michigan State team that is projected to be a top-10 team in college basketball. Izzo has been on a major roll on the recruiting front as of late, reeling in three five star prospects in the 2021 and 2022 classes, including Emoni Bates, considered arguably the most talented player all of in high school basketball. Henry says there's a reason why Michigan State has been able to recruit and retain so much talent.
"It's a family atmosphere here. We're extremely close nit," he said. "The coaching staff is honest and keeps it real with us at all times. Everybody feels that from our group. It's the best place to play in the country, why wouldn't you want to play here?"
Jonathan Givony is an NBA Draft expert and the founder and co-owner of DraftExpress.com, a private scouting and analytics service utilized by NBA, NCAA and International teams.