As one of the most athletic college basketball players in the nation, Branden Dawson has been a huge piece to the Michigan State Spartans‘ Big Ten title runs for the past few seasons. However, the junior forward suffered a broken hand after slamming his hand on a table during a team film session just over a month ago and is now set to return for the first time in nine games.
What does this mean for the Spartans? Well, the team is an astounding 18-1 when Dawson is in the lineup, but a mediocre 4-5 since his injury struck the team’s confidence.
Well, the athletically-gifted junior is set to return to the lineup this week against the Illinois Fighting Illini at home, per Matt Charboneau of the Detroit News.
Hollis said the basketball team practiced today for first time with everyone on the court … so Branden Dawson is back
— Matt Charboneau (@mattcharboneau) February 26, 2014
Yes, for the first time since January 21 against the Indiana Hoosiers in which he scored 13 points and grabbed nine rebounds, Dawson will be back on the court.
Michigan State has to become a serious Final Four threat now that everyone is healthy. Keith Appling was out a few games with a wrist injury, but is now back and getting his rhythm back as well. Adreian Payne was the other injured star, missing a handful of games, but returning to form and dominating opponents since his return.
Dawson could have been a difference-maker in both losses against the Michigan Wolverines by keying in on Caris LeVert as well as preventing a home loss to the Nebraska Cornhuskers by guarding Terran Petteway. Heck, they could have even beat the Wisconsin Badgers on the road if he was in there on defense and crashing the boards.
With Dawson’s athletic ability, defensive prowess and matchup assistance, the Spartans will be a much-feared team in March. Heck, when you get a guy back who averages over 10 points and nearly nine boards a game, things can only get better.
Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.