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Michigan State commit Aaron Henry breaks down his game
Every time a basketball recruit makes his commitment, there’s a lot to say.
Whereas football programs will bring in around 20 players in a class, basketball teams sometimes sign as few as one or two. Michigan State brought in just Jaren Jackson Jr. and Xavier Tillman in 2017.
This cycle, things have been a bit different. When Ben Davis (Indianapolis) wing Aaron Henry committed to the Spartans on Monday, he became the fifth member of the Michigan State Class of 2018. That’s two more than any other Division I program in the nation.
There’s still plenty to say. On Monday, we shared Henry’s account of his official visit and his reasons for committing. We showed you some highlight film. We broke down the 3-star (per the 247Sports composite ratings) senior’s game with the help of his coach, Mark James.
But what about Henry’s evaluation of his own game? We’ve got that, too. In a phone interview on Monday, he shared — with confidence — what he feels makes him a Big Ten-caliber player.
“I’m extremely versatile,” he said. “They [the Spartans] like how I can guard multiple positions. Coach [Tom] Izzo really expressed that to me, and he said that’s going to determine how much playing time I can get: who I can guard on the court.”
With a 6-foot-11 wingspan to go with his 6-5 frame, Henry can protect the rim and be disruptive in passing lanes. He averaged 2.0 steals and 1.4 blocks in the July tournament after which Michigan State offered him.
Henry said the biggest knock on his game is shooting. But in the aforementioned tournament, the Adidas Summer Championships in Las Vegas, he shot 9 for 20 (45 percent) from 3-point range. The improvement, he said, is a product of his extra work in the gym.
On offense, he thrives on using his quick first step and strength to get by defenders. He feels his combination of size and athleticism makes him a nightmare to defend.
“I’m strong enough to finish with contact and get past any defender,” Henry said. “I’m too big for guards to guard me on the perimeter or in the post and too fast for the bigs who try to come out and guard me.”
Henry said Michigan State assistant Dane Fife initially had him pegged as a 4 because he plays bigger than his natural position in high school. But that’s no problem for Henry if that’s what it takes to repeat as Indiana state champions.
“[James] needs me to average a triple-double, and I feel like no goal is too high for me to achieve,” Henry said. “I can do that. As long as we get to hang another banner up, I’ll be fine.”
On the basketball recruiting trail: Time to talk 2019
Now that Henry is on board, the Michigan State coaches can increase their focus on the 2019 class during this evaluation period. It appears they’re doing just that.
MSU, UM, Baylor were at Southfield Christian workout this morning.
— Steve Bell (@BankHoops) September 12, 2017
Michigan prep recruiting analyst Steve Bell of Bank Hoops reported that Michigan State joined Michigan and Baylor at Southfield (Mich.) Christian on Monday morning.
Southfield Christian is alma mater of Spartans walk-on Brock Washington and the home of 4-star junior guard Harlond Beverly. Beverly holds offers from the Spartans, Baylor and Toledo. He told Land of 10 the Michigan State offer left him shocked.
The Athletic’s Brendan Quinn reported that Michigan State coaches would evaluate 4-star Villa Angela-St. Joseph (Cleveland) forward Alonzo Gaffney in person on Tuesday. Gaffney, the No. 50 player in 2019 per the 247Sports composite ratings, holds offers from Florida, Georgetown, Kansas, Louisville and Ohio State, among others.
Michigan State coaches will be in Cleveland today to watch 2019 4-star PF Alonzo Gaffney. Holds offers from Louisville, Ohio State, others.
— Brendan F. Quinn (@BFQuinn) September 12, 2017
Gaffney’s school has been a treasure trove of talented big men in recent years, having produced former Kansas forward Carlton Bragg and current Northwestern center Dererk Pardon.
Spartans assistant Dwayne Stephens made his way to Benton Harbor (Mich.) to check out open gym on Tuesday. There he saw 2020 forward Carlos Johnson, who holds an offer from Detroit Mercy.
— Corey Sterling (@coachcster) September 12, 2017
In focus: Michigan State commitment highlights
It’s time for our latest installment. Some commits have made their highlights private. Others haven’t posted theirs yet. But looking at what is available, here are the top highlights of the weekend from future Michigan State football players.
1. Four-star Dearborn (Mich.) Divine Child quarterback Theo Day served up this touchdown pass on a platter in the back of the end zone.
2. Saline (Mich.) offensive lineman Dimitri Douglas drove a hapless defender down the field and directly into another defender, putting both of them on the ground.
3. Olentangy (Lewis Center, Ohio) defensive lineman Jacob Slade quickly shed the lineman attempting to block him and stripped the ball carrier.
4. St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio) defensive back Michael Dowell got after the quarterback just like his brother, Michigan State linebacker Andrew Dowell, did on Friday. The youngest Dowell jarred the ball loose with a bruising hit.
5. Looking like he might be beaten, Lassiter (Marietta, Ga.) cornerback Chris Jackson recovered with a diving pass breakup to prevent a big gain.