College basketball players like Miles Bridges only come along once in a great while. Most kids as talented as he would probably never even throw on a college jersey if given the option to go straight to the NBA from high school.
But thanks to the NBA’s age limit, Bridges ended up coming to MSU and as soon as he slipped into the green and white he became one of the best and most passionate basketball players Tom Izzo had ever coached.
Statistically, Bridges was the best freshman Michigan State had seen since Magic Johnson. He finished the 2017 season leading all conference freshmen in scoring (16.6 ppg) and rebounding (8.1 rpg) and was the first frosh since Shawn Respert (1991-92) to lead the Spartans in scoring. He ran away with the Big Ten Freshman of the Year award, becoming just the second Spartan to ever win it and was also the fourth MSU freshman to ever earn all conference honors, joining Gary Harris, Respert, and Magic.
On the court, there was very little separating him from surefire one-and-done’s like Malik Monk (Kentucky SG) and Lonzo Ball (UCLA PG) but Bridges is different. On top of all of those impressive numbers, he is outspoken in his love for his teammates and his school, and wants to bring a National Championship back to East Lansing more than anything.
The questions is, will all that be enough for him to put off his childhood dream of playing in the NBA for another year?
Any realistic person would say no, odds are he's gone and deservedly so.
There are arguments for Bridges staying for his sophomore year, however, such as improving his draft stock, winning a championship, and the opportunity to grow under the mentorship of a Hall of Fame coach in Izzo for another year. While these are all valid points, it’ll be tough for them to outweigh the financial opportunities that come with going to the next level.
One thing is for certain, whatever he chooses, Izzo will not hold him back. He has always been straight with players in the past when it comes to leaving early for the NBA and he knows as well as anyone that Miles could play with the big boys next season. Izzo has contacts everywhere, especially in the NBA, and won't pull any punches when talking with Miles about his potential draft stock.
Simply put, there are no guarantees. No guarantee he'll be healthy the entire 2018 season, no guarantee his draft stock will rise or even remain the same. As a Michigan State fan, I hope to the high heavens Bridges stays but the best decision Miles could make for himself would probably be to declare for the draft.
The kid deserves to fulfill his childhood dream of playing pro and it would be selfish of the fans to try and keep him here another year. As much as Spartan fans love him it might be time to accept the possibility that Miles Bridges will be calling an NBA city home in 2018, not East Lansing.