EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Ward to sign with agent that will end his college career.

 

 

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – APRIL 06: Nick Ward #44 of the Michigan State Spartans shoots the ball against Jarrett Culver #23 and Norense Odiase #32 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders in the second half during the 2019 NCAA Final Four semifinal at U.S. Bank Stadium on April 6, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

 

 

All-America guard Cassius Winston wants to accomplish more at Michigan State. He is coming back for his senior season.

“It will always be my goal to play in the NBA, but that’s a dream that can wait a year,” Winston said Friday.

 

 

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – APRIL 06: Head coach Tom Izzo of the Michigan State Spartans talks with Cassius Winston #5 in the second half against the Texas Tech Red Raiders during the 2019 NCAA Final Four semifinal at U.S. Bank Stadium on April 6, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

 

 

Teammate Nick Ward said he is entering the draft and plans to sign with an agent and end his college career.

The decisions seem to solidify the Spartans as a contender for a national championship next season. While they will miss Ward’s low-post scoring and rebounding, 

 

 

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – APRIL 06: Matt McQuaid #20 and Nick Ward #44 of the Michigan State Spartans react on the bench in the second half against the Texas Tech Red Raiders during the 2019 NCAA Final Four semifinal at U.S. Bank Stadium on April 6, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

 

forward Xavier Tillman proved he could produce in his place last month. And, much of Tom Izzo’s team will return along with a pair of talented freshmen to join a deep and talented team.

Winston, the Big Ten player of the year, averaged nearly 19 points per game as a junior and broke a Big Ten single-season record with 291 assists. He led the Spartans to the Final Four after helping them win the Big Ten regular season and tournament titles.

 

 

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – APRIL 06: Cassius Winston #5 of the Michigan State Spartans handles the ball in the second half against the Texas Tech Red Raiders during the 2019 NCAA Final Four semifinal at U.S. Bank Stadium on April 6, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

 

“It was surreal to be compared to some of the all-time great Spartans during the tournament because in my mind I still have something left to prove,” Winston said. “Those goals will motivate me throughout the offseason I look forward to improving as a player, and continuing to get stronger.”

Izzo said his ultimate goal is to watch players live their dreams.

 

 

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – APRIL 06: The Michigan State Spartans mascot performs in the first half during the 2019 NCAA Final Four semifinal between the Texas Tech Red Raiders and the Michigan State Spartans at U.S. Bank Stadium on April 6, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

 

“So if Cassius dreams of becoming one of the best players in Spartan basketball history and leaving a legacy, I look forward to doing everything I can to help him make that a reality,” Izzo said.

Ward averaged nearly 13 points and six-plus rebounds per game in a season stunted by a broken left hand. He entered his name in the NBA draft last year after his sophomore season and chose to return to college.

 

 

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – APRIL 05: Nick Ward #44 of the Michigan State Spartans looks on during practice prior to the 2019 NCAA men’s Final Four at U.S. Bank Stadium on April 5, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

 

“Based on the feedback I got last year and discussions with coach Izzo, I’m ready for this challenge and look forward to this next chapter,” Ward said.

Izzo said he fully supports Ward’s decision.

“He has worked very hard over the last three years to put himself in this position and I look forward to helping him reach his dreams,” Izzo said.

 

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