The Spartans junior announced on Instagram he was forgoing his final year of eligibility to turn pro:
"First off I want to thank God for giving me this opportunity. These last 3 seasons at Michigan State have been incredible for me. I have been able to become not only a better basketball player but also a better man. I want to thank Coach Izzo and the entire coaching staff for believing in me and pushing me to be better everyday. I want to thank all the fans for the love and support and I also want to thank my teammates for helping me each and everyday. After consulting with the coaching Staff and my family I have decided to take the next step to pursue my lifelong dream of playing in the NBA by declaring for the 2019 NBA Draft. I have also hired an agent. Thank Spartan nation for everything. I will forever be a spartan!"
There is some good news for Michigan State heading into next season. Cassius Winston, who was named Big Ten Player of the Year in 2018-19, announced Friday he will return to school, per Matt Charboneau of the Detroit News.
Ward has been a steady presence at Michigan State since he arrived on campus in 2016. The Ohio native averaged at least 12.4 points and 6.0 rebounds in each of his three seasons, and he led the team with a 59.2 field-goal percentage as a freshman in 2016-17.
B/R's Jonathan Wasserman didn't have Ward ranked among the top 75 prospects in this year's class on his most recent big board.
Ward previously put his name in the NBA draft pool last year but opted to return to school after going through predraft workouts. He could do the same this year, as he has until May 29 to remove his name from the pool and sever ties with his agent.
On the heels of averaging 12.9 points and 6.0 rebounds per game last season, Ward was named to the All-Big Ten third team.
Ward was limited down the stretch after fracturing his left hand during a Feb. 17 game against Ohio State. He didn't play more than 20 minutes in eight games upon returning to the lineup on March 15.