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Branden Dawson Returning to Michigan State for Senior Season

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Branden Dawson officially announced on Tuesday that he will return to Michigan State for his senior season in 2014-2015.

The junior’s strong play in the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments had increased his stock as a potential NBA draft pick, but Dawson said he wants to continue his development and finish college.

“I was always pretty sure that I wanted to return for my senior season, but Coach Izzo said he would do what he does for all his players and gather some information,” Dawson said in a news release issued by MSU. “As he started making calls, my mom came up and we met with Coach. 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. I’m vowing to improve my consistency and am looking forward to a great final season.

“This last year, I made some big improvements in my game as I’ve worked on my shooting and ball handling. I know that with another offseason of hard work that I can make even more improvement and become more consistent. 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. 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.”

It’s good news for the Spartans, who are losing Adreian Payne and Keith Appling to graduation, and Gary Harris to an early-departure for the NBA.

More from the MSU release:

A 6-foot-6 guard/forward from Gary, Ind., Dawson averaged 11.2 points and a team-best 8.3 rebounds for the Spartans in 2013-14. He missed 10 games due to injury, including nine straight with a broken hand from Jan. 25 to Feb. 23. Upon his return in March, Dawson elevated his level of play. In seven postseason games, he averaged 15.7 points, ranking second on the squad, and posted a team-best .681 field-goal percentage, while being named Most Outstanding Player of the Big Ten Tournament, leading the Spartans to a tournament crown. In four NCAA Tournament games, he averaged 16.3 points and 8.8 rebounds, shooting .634 from the field.

Due to the number of games he missed due to injury, Dawson was not eligible to be ranked in the Big Ten statistics. Had he played in enough games, he would have ranked second in the Big Ten in rebounding (8.3 rpg) and first in field-goal percentage (.613). At MSU’s Awards Banquet, he was co-recipient of the Best Defensive Player and Antonio Smith Glue and Guts Award, and a tri-recipient of the Chairman of the Boards Award.

RELATED: Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III leaving Michigan for NBA draft

Quote from Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo:

“As I always do for players with NBA prospects, I did my due diligence of gathering information regarding Branden Dawson’s draft status. But before I could get deep into the process, B.J. and his mom came to me and expressed his desire to return for his senior season. 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. 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.”

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