Last year, Aaron Henry declared for the 2020 NBA Draft, but decided to come back to school for another season. In a statement he made after his decision, he said, “This decision was based off wanting to maximize my opportunity to be coached by the best coach in the game in Tom Izzo and reach my dreams and full potential.” The decision paid off. Despite a down year for Michigan State, Henry showed his potential during what was a career year, averaging 15.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.3 blocks per game. His efforts earned the junior a third-team All-Big Ten selection and first-team Big Ten All-Defense honors.
Henry was an excellent two-way player for the Spartans, and he has proved it against elite competition. According to basketball-reference.com, a player’s average strength of schedule has a rating of zero; Henry’s average strength of schedule rating was 11.52 for his career, showing that he has played against some of the best competition in the country. Additionally, he was extremely durable, missing just one of 98 games, and he proved to be a team leader, who stayed fully engaged in games and kept his composure throughout.
|Position:||W||Team/Class:||Michigan State (Jr.)|
|Wingspan:||6’11”||Vertical:||29’’ standing, 35’’ max|
|Shot Hand:||Left||Stats:||Click here|
Henry is one of the elite defensive prospects in this year’s draft class. This past season, he averaged 1.3 steals and 1.3 blocks a game, and 3.2 combined blocks and steals per 40 minutes, putting him well above the average of all 2021 NBA Draft prospects. The junior ranked at the 85th percentile for points per possession (PPP) allowed as a defender, along with limiting opponents to a 30.6 field-goal percentage and a 37.5 adjusted field-goal percentage. Henry has great helpside anticipation and contests shots with excellent timing and length. He also has great recovery speed after getting beat off the dribble, and his 6-foot-11 wingspan certainly doesn’t hurt.
With the departures of NBA draft picks Xavier Tillman Sr. and Cassius Winston, Henry took up a much larger offensive role this season for the Spartans. He averaged 15.4 points per game on 44.9 percent shooting. He was effective on and off the ball, scored inside and out, and served as a primary ball handler.
Henry’s three-point percentage dropped from 34.4 percent his sophomore year to 29.6 percent his junior year, as did his overall offensive efficiency (75th percentile for points and assists per possession in 2019-20 down to the 63rd percentile in 2020-21). I would attribute his statistical drops to two things: higher shot volume and a lack of help. As previously noted, Henry took on a much larger offensive role as a junior, seeing that his field goal attempts increased from 254 his sophomore season to 363 his junior year. Secondly, Henry was depended on much more this season, and opposing defenses knew that he was the team’s only consistent scorer.
For his career, Henry made a modest 33.3 percent of his 3s. He doesn’t have the smoothest mechanics, doesn’t get great elevation off the floor, and short-arms his shots at times. The three-point shot is not the focal point of his game, but he’ll definitely want to improve on it if he wants to prosper at the next level.
Henry has the potential to be a secondary ball-handler at the next level. Michigan State did not have a true point guard on the roster this past season, and Henry was a beneficiary of that, getting plenty of reps as a primary ball-handler. He is a solid passer out of the pick and roll, whether it’s passing to players in the paint or on the perimeter. He even was the inbounds passer on numerous occasions, which is not something you normally see out of a team’s leading scorer.
Henry is an effective slasher; he has a great floater/runner game, and is very capable finishing with either hand. He does not have the quickest first step, but he manages to bully his way to the rim with his 6-foot-5, 210 pound frame. The one concern is that he heavily favors driving to the left.
As far as a career projection for Henry, I see him being a solid role player for any NBA team. His defensive skills alone might be enough to make an NBA roster, but if he wants to take the next step, his perimeter shooting will have to improve.
- Very good overall defender; this season, ranked at the 85th percentile of points per possession allowed (0.703) and allowed a 37.5 adjusted field-goal percentage
- Gets through screens well, and is especially good at guarding the pick and roll; ranked at the 83rd percentile vs. pick-and-roll ball handlers (0.548 PPP)
- Very good post defender for his size; ranked at the 82nd percentile with 0.692 points per possession allowed
- Shows great shot-blocking ability, featuring great length, excellent timing, and quickness off the floor
- Good rebounder for a wing; averaged 5.2 RPG a junior and 4.6 RPG for his career
- Physical rim-attacker, effectively using either hand to finish and featuring an excellent floater/runner game; ranked at the 93rd percentile of runners in the half-court (1.173 points per possession)
- Has secondary ball-handler potential; had a solid career assist-turnover ratio of 1.3, and ranked at the 74th percentile for PPP (including the results of passes) as a pick-and-roll handler this season
- Highly effective off-ball cutter, ranking above the 77th percentile for PPP for three straight seasons
- Excellent midrange shooter; between 17 feet and the three-point line, ranked at the 89th percentile with 1.029 points per possession
- Hustles and is very coachable, showing steady improvement over three years
- Durable, missing just one game in his three years at Michigan State
- A inefficient shooter from deep; made 29.6 percent of his 3s this season and 33.3 percent for his career
- Lacks explosive first step
- Heavily favors driving left and more effective in that direction; this season, drove left nearly three times as much as right
- Not effective in transition; ranked below the 38th percentile for two straight seasons, and as a junior, had a turnover rate of 24.1 percent
- Has good straight-line speed, but an average athlete overall
Sources, Credits, and Acknowledgements
Stats used in our scouting reports come from Synergy Sports Technology, RealGM.com, and Sports-Reference.com. Some background information and the photo were courtesy of Michigan State Athletics. Other outside sources are noted with links to the source.