LARRY LAGE, AP Sports Writer
Michigan State forward Branden Dawson is staying for his senior season.
Dawson made the choice after he and his mother met with coach Tom Izzo, who gathered information about the 6-foot-6 forward’s NBA stock, after the Gary, Ind., native planned to return to school.
“The three of us decided that as far as my basketball career, both present and future, and the chance to finish my degree, including possibly needing to take just one class during my final semester, that my initial decision was the correct one,” Dawson said in a statement released by the school. “I’m vowing to improve my consistency and am looking forward to a great final season.”
He averaged a career-high 11.2 points during the last regular season, and 16.3 points and 8.8 rebounds in the NCAA tournament.
The 6-foot-6 forward scored a career-high 26 points in an NCAA tournament win over Harvard and had 24 points in his next game, helping the fourth-seeded Spartans beat top-seeded Virginia in the round of 16.
After scoring in double digits for six straight games, Dawson scored just five points in the season-ending loss to the seventh-seeded and eventual champion Connecticut Huskies.
“I’m excited about his decision because he expressed to me his passion to be more consistent and perform at a high level each and every night,” Izzo said in a statement.
Dawson signed with the Spartans as a highly touted recruit, but has only shown flashes of his potential. His college career was stunted at the end of his freshman season when he tore a ligament in his left knee and needed major surgery that affected his sophomore season. He had another injury-related setback in the middle of last season because of his broken right hand.
Dawson hopes to have a healthy offseason to help him get better to help lead a team that will be without Gary Harris, who is entering the NBA draft as a sophomore, and graduating seniors Adreian Payne and Keith Appling.
“After not being able to work on my game between my freshman and sophomore seasons due to an injury, I saw what a difference a summer can make last year,” he said. “I’m ready to put in another summer of work and excited to see the results. I think I played some of the best basketball of my career over the last month, and I can’t wait to do that every game next season.”
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