EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State freshman forward Miles Bridges is returning to East Lansing for his sophomore season.
Thursday afternoon, it was made official:
It's official: Miles Bridges will return for his sophomore season at MSU.
— Davey Segal (@DaveyCenter) April 13, 2017
Bridges held a public press conference Thursday evening at the Sparty statue on Michigan State’s campus to share the news: the freshman phenom is bypassing the NBA Draft to return to Breslin Center for at least one more year.
— Ryan Cole (@ryan_cole9) April 13, 2017
The news was first hinted at on Wednesday, when Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! tweeted that Bridges had cancelled agent meetings and was leaning toward staying at MSU.
Bridges then called for the public press conference in a tweet early Thursday afternoon.
— Miles Bridges (@MilesBridges01) April 13, 2017
Bridges averaged 16.9 points per game and 8.3 rebounds per game during his freshman campaign. His high-flying ability, stellar athleticism and smooth shooting helped him to become one of the most exciting players in the country, not to mention a highly coveted pro prospect.
Bridges was projected as a lottery pick throughout the season. Most mock drafts had Bridges slotted in between the No. 10 and No. 13 picks as recently as Tuesday. Those picks were worth about $2 million per year in the NBA’s 2016-17 rookie salary scale.
The Flint, Michigan native was the heart and soul of the Spartans in the 2016-17 season. He ranks as one of the top freshmen to ever don the green and white.
|Points||16.9||2nd (Magic Johnson)|
|Field Goals Made||177||2nd (Nick Ward)|
|3-Point Field Goals Made||56||4th (Chris Hill, Gary Harris, Shawn Respert)|
|Blocks||43||3rd (Deyonta Davis, Nick Ward)|
|Rebounds||232||3rd (Greg Kelser, Magic Johnson)|
Bridges scored a career-high 33 points in a home loss to Purdue on January 24. He tallied seven double-doubles, including grabbing a career-high 15 rebounds against St. John’s in the Bahamas on November 23.
At 6-foot-8 and 225 pounds, Bridges most likely projects as a small forward in the NBA. However, due to the lack of size on the Spartans’ roster this past season, he was forced to play the power forward position.
But with at least two incoming freshman forwards coming to East Lansing in the fall in Jaren Jackson and Xavier Tillman, along with the potential commitments of Brian Bowen and Brandon McCoy, Bridges is much more likely to shift to his natural small forward position for the 2017-18 version of the Spartans.
Although Bridges has had the pros calling his name since high school, his decision to return to school is not entirely shocking. Tom Izzo has referred to the forward as a “blue collar superstar” all season, crediting his work ethic that is so uncommon with highly rated basketball prospects. Izzo has also called Bridges “one of the humblest kids” he has worked with in his 22 years at the helm of MSU’s basketball program.
Impact Sports’ MSU basketball podcast, Impact Izzone, will continue to report on the latest updates regarding Bridges’ decision.