When Aaron Henry committed to #11 Michigan State back in September 2017, many knew the type of talent, work ethic and competitive nature that Henry would bring to the Spartans, but those in and around the Indianapolis (IN) Ben Davis program were confident that the 6-foot-5, 210 pound star would be even better by the time he stepped on campus in East Lansing.
And since he became the Spartans’ fifth and final commitment of the 2018 class, Henry has improved his all-around game and now that he’s enrolled at Michigan State, the 4-star recruit has high expectations for the team and himself heading into the 2018-19 season.
Spartan Nation caught up with Henry earlier in the spring to talk about his mindset as he prepares for his freshman season and Henry said that he’s prepared himself through hard work and also took advice from former Spartan and current Denver Nugget Gary Harris on how to approach the upcoming season.
“Just go in and be the hardest worker, nobody else should outwork you,” he said. “Of course they’re my teammates, but I’m competing every day for a spot, I’m competing every day to win. Obviously, we were predicted to win a National Championship last year and that didn’t happen, so I’m going in right away to pick that up, pick the same energy up and at least be projected again and actually fulfill that achievement.”
In his senior season at the high school level, Henry led Ben Davis in most, if not all, statistical categories and was regularly tasked with defending opposing teams’ top players.
Ben Davis head coach Mark James said that he feels Henry took his game to another level in his senior season where he shot well over 50-percent from the field and also handled the ball despite his future likely being as a wing player in college.
“I think he’s a more rounded player,” he said. “He led our team in just about every category, he averaged nine rebounds, 16-17 points, shot about 56-percent from the field. He was our best defender, shared the ball real well. I think he’s a much more well-rounded player than he was going into the season because of the responsibilities on our team. He handled the ball for us, defended the best players on the other team, a lot of things I think he’ll eventually be able to do up at Michigan State.”
One thing that stands out about Henry is his competitiveness and drive to win, which is something that Henry said explains why he and Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo get along so well.
“That’s why we see eye-to-eye so much,” he said. “Off the court, one of the nicest guys you could meet, but on the court, I don’t have any friends. If you’re not the other four people on my team, I don’t know you, I don’t like you. Off the court, I know you, I like you, I’m going to get to know you, but I have no friends on the basketball court.”
James also cited Henry’s work ethic and leadership qualities as areas that stood out to him during his high school career and expects both parts to transition to the college game as well.
“We always tell all of our kids all of the time that they lead by example, for each other, and he was one that when they looked at him on the court, they knew he was pretty serious,” he said. “That’s always good for younger kids, if they can look up to older kids that work hard and have that type of seriousness about the game and it makes my job a lot easier.”
Henry is a key member of Michigan State’s 2018 recruiting class, which is going to be asked to help fill the void of several key losses from last year’s Spartans’ team which lost Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson Jr. to this year’s NBA draft and Tum Tum Nairn and Ben Carter to graduation.
After officially joining the Spartans, Henry said that he and the rest of Michigan State’s 2018 class immediately began developing a strong bond and noted that it has only gotten stronger since.
“When I committed, we all created a little group chat together and started socializing with each other and we’ve just become closer ever since,” he said. “We have each other on all social media, we just chit chat with each other and see how we’re doing, when I get up there on May 14th, we just can’t wait to get to work. We talk about it all of the time, getting better consistently and achieving our goal. I just want to win, I’m here to win and the rest is going to take care of itself. I’m going to do whatever it takes to just win.”
Now that he is enrolled and preparing for next season, Henry has high hopes for his Michigan State career and hopes to be remembered with some of the Spartans’ all-time greats.
“It’s everything, there’s a long line of Spartans, there’s a long line and hopefully I can be one of the greatest,” he said. “I hope I can be labeled as a winner, someone who cared the most and someone who’s loving and will speak to everybody.”
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