Dawson returning for senior year

Michigan State forward decides to come back in lieu of heading to the NBA a day after Gary Harris made his announcement.

A day after Michigan State sophomore Gary Harris announced he would head for the NBA, junior Branden Dawson announced he would be returning to school.

The forward said he was always pretty sure he wanted to come back for his senior year in East Lansing.

From talks with his mom and coach Tom Izzo, it affirmed his choice.

"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," he said. "I'm vowing to improve my consistency and am looking forward to a great final season."

After coming back from breaking his hand and missing nine games, Dawson was key for the Spartans down the stretch as they won the Big Ten Tournament and went to the Elite Eight.

As he returns, he is aiming to do that more and get even better – with consistency the focus.

"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."

Dawson averaged 15 points and 7.3 rebounds in the Big Ten Tournament on his way to MVP honors. He then averaged 20 points and 9.0 rebounds per game in the first three game of the NCAA Tournament.

"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. "If you look at his numbers over the last seven or eight games, including averaging 16 points and nearly nine rebounds in the NCAA Tournament, I think the outlook is very promising for his senior season. As he continues to develop as a player and perform with greater consistency, he can position himself for a successful NBA career in the future."

Dawson averaged 11.2 points and 8.3 rebounds per game as a junior.

He figures to factor prominently into the mix next season as the Spartans have to replace Harris and graduated seniors Keith Appling and Adreian Payne.

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