The quest for the No. 1 recruiting class in 2016 continues to come into fruition for Michigan State, as the Spartans landed a verbal commitment from five-star forward Miles Bridges. The third-ranked small forward per 247sports.com, Bridges is a monumental get for head coach Tom Izzo and his staff not only as a potential replacement for do-it-all senior Denzel Valentine, but he's also a local product.
Although Bridges is currently enrolled at Huntington Prep (W.Va.), he is a native of Flint, Michigan. All signs pointed towards Michigan State when Bridges listed Mott Community College - conveniently located in Flint -- as his announcement venue.
Bridges joins an already loaded class that features a who's who amongst the nation's top talent. Four-star point guard Cassius Winston, five-star guard Josh Langford and four-star forward Nick Ward make up the 2016 class so far. With the commitment of Bridges, Michigan State may become a favorite for consensus five-star guard Josh Jackson, as he and Bridges are good friends.
Bridges' commitment couldn't have come at a more crucial time. With the departure of Valentine, there is a gaping hole along the starting lineup. With a college ready body and physicality coveted by coach Izzo, look for Bridges to fill in nicely.
Tom Izzo has an eye for physicality, and Bridges complements that style of play perfectly. At 6'6 and a sturdy 218 pounds, there is no doubt he will be ready for college basketball in year one. Bridges will be most effective in year one by filling the lanes on fast breaks and using his physical tools to finish above the rim and in transition.
There is great potential for Bridges to mold himself into an excellent rebounder. At the Nike Global Challenge in July, the Michigan native posted a 14.5 rebound per game average to go along with 24.5 points and three assists.
Defensively, Bridges looks to excel as an on-ball defender, as his length and athleticism will allow him to easily alter shots. Sliding over as a weak side defender and chasing down block opportunities in transition should also be a factor in Bridges' defensive development.
Areas for Improvement
Although he has displayed the ability to make open three pointers, Bridges will need to continue working on developing his shooting mechanics. They have progressed throughout his high school career, but will still need some work heading into his freshman season.
His ball skills in a half court setting are still a work in progress. Bridges is lethal in transition, but can be limited in a slow, half court setting against quicker defenders.
A facet of the game that is not often critiqued is the mental approach and staying composed when plans venture off course. Bridges has a tendency to be a bit volatile at time and can display poor body language after shaky shooting and tumultuous times on the court.
The commitment of Bridges should vault the Spartans into the top spot nationally for the 2016 class. Bridges is a high-major, elite talent that will need to refine his offensive repertoire in order to fully reach his potential.
Bridges could be utilized more as a power forward to start out until he can get defenses to fully respect his shooting abilities. As an undersized power forward, Bridges will cause major matchup problems due to his quickness, athleticism and tenacity. With his current skill set, there is potential to start right away and be a productive player. With an even-keeled mindset and more polish to his offensive game, the sky is the limit.