Because of an academic issue, Michigan State freshman Branden Dawson didn’t make the trip to Arizona with his teammates Monday.
Dawson showed up to the Breslin Center on Monday evening to eat with the team and get on the bus to head to the airport. But he only made it across the parking lot before Tom Izzo asked him to get off the bus. It stopped near a grassy berm where fans had gathered to send the team off.
"He hadn't completed a class assignment,” Izzo said when he met with reporters today at US Airways Center. “We tried calling him (Monday), and he didn't return the call. I told him that we don't do that here. His stuff was already on the bus, and we didn't know (about the class assignment) until we were ready to leave. We thought it was best, at the last moment, that he stay behind on this trip.
There are some other things he needs to work on, but this decision was based on academics."
Dawson tore his ACL against Ohio State on March 4. He had surgery the following Tuesday. The freshman forward had little swelling and recovered so well after the procedure that he was able to join his team in Columbus, Ohio, last weekend for MSU’s first two games in the NCAA tournament. During one practice there, however, Dawson didn’t stick around, because it was too difficult for him to watch.
Despite being injured, his coaches are trying to teach him he still can help the team. They want him to show more enthusiasm, however difficult that is.
Before the team traveled to Columbus, Izzo had said it was crucial to Dawson’s development that the freshman experience the tournament. He thought it would be good if Dawson supported the team and good for Dawson to be around his teammates.