Nick Ward, 6' 9, C, Columbus, Ohio, 2016 High School Class
Few players at Nike Global Challenge competed as hard as big man Nick Ward. All 240 pounds of the 6' 9 center could be seen sprinting the floor, attacking every shot around the rim on defense, and relentlessly chasing after his own misses on the offensive end.
The Columbus, Ohio native doesn't have the perfect frame or pogo stick leaping ability, but the thick lefty plays hard on pretty much every possession, and was very productive as a result. Ward averaged 26 points, 9.7 rebounds and 4.5 blocks per 40 minutes pace adjusted while posting a 24.0 PER and shooting 65.7% from the field. Ward got to the line 14.2 times per 40 minutes pace adjusted and absolutely made his presence felt with his physical style of play.
Although he measured a 7' 2 wingspan, Ward is without question an undersized center. He plays 15 feet and in, doesn't have a great feel for the game, and isn't the most skilled player out there. But with all that said, Ward's combination of strength, agility for his size, length and effort got it done for USA Midwest.
Despite carrying some extra weight, Ward is actually very mobile. He can really run the floor and shows quickness in tight spaces. He shows excellent balance on all of his spin moves and possesses very good body control for a player his size.
Ward was also getting out and hedging screens on defense while manning the paint on the interior. Ward has a shot-blocker mentality and very good timing and instincts rotating from the weak side. He's not super vertical, but Ward is quick off of his feet, and makes up for his lack of pop with effort. Ward's long-term potential remains to be seen, but Michigan State fans will quickly fall in love with his physicality and high-motor style of play.