In the months leading up to the 2016-’17 college basketball season, BTPowerhouse will be releasing a new series called the 'BTPowerhouse 25,' which features the Top 25 players in the Big Ten as voted by members of the staff. All players set to be on Big Ten rosters for next season were eligible during the staff vote with their top selection receiving 25 points and their 25th and final selection receiving 1 point.
Today's edition will take a brief look at Miles Bridges of Michigan State, who came in at No. 12 in the rankings. The Spartans are hoping that he can provide immediate impact to help the team’s massive offseason losses.
'BTPowerhouse 25' - #12 Miles Bridges:
- Eligibility: Freshman
- Career Totals: N/A
- 2014-15 Averages: N/A
- Positional Role: Small Forward
No one has any idea what to expect from Bridges, the 11th ranked freshman in the country and the lynchpin of Michigan State’s historic recruiting class. Tom Izzo hasn’t had a player this highly-touted since Shannon Brown, or a wing this explosive since Jason Richardson.
Do you like jumping? Dunking? What about fast breaks that end with an alley-oop off the glass? If not, I’m assuming you don’t like basketball and are just hate-reading this right now. For the rest of you, get ready.
Clips have been circling the internet of the Flint native’s high-flying antics, including his first vertical test at the end of June, wherein he casually (and in glorious slo-mo) touched the top of the backboard. NBD.
It’s not just the dunks and eye-popping athleticism. Bridges already figures to be an elite passer and rebounder, tall, big, and fast enough to slide around the floor, shifting positions on offense and defense.
Two winters ago, at the Cancer Research Classic in West Virginia, he became the first player to record a triple double: 15 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists, playing in the same tournament as Ben Simmons, Indiana’s Thomas Bryant, Villanova’s Jalen Brunson, and fellow super freshman Duke’s Jayson Tatum.
Areas For Improvement
Shooting. Last season, Michigan State was the number one 3-point shooting team in the nation. Denzel Valentine and Bryn Forbes, and their 460+ attempts, are gone. While fellow frosh Josh Langford, along with senior Eron Harris and sophomore Matt McQuaid, will help pick up the slack, Izzo is going to need his star recruit to improve his shooting consistency as the season progresses.
If Bridges can keep defenses honest, that should open up more lanes for Bridges to thrown down his already-patented thunderous jams.
Historically speaking, Coach Izzo has been wary about playing his incoming freshmen big minutes in their first season. But Bridges, like Deyonta Davis last year and Zach Randolph going back fifteen, is simply too good and fills such an immediate need for Michigan State to not see sizable playing time. It’s not hyperbolic to suggest that he’s already the best player on the team and he hasn’t even suited up for one single game.
The conference is full of fine players who will test Miles Bridges in their match-ups, but he’s the odds-on favorite for Big Ten Freshman of the Year. If all goes according to plan (i.e. he improves his talent as the season progresses), he’s got an outside shot at conference POY honors too.
'BTPowerhouse 25' Rankings:
- #26-31 - Players That Just Missed The Cut
- #24 - Josh Langford (Michigan State)
- #24 - Kam Williams (Ohio State)
- #23 - Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman (Michigan)
- #22 - Jalen Coleman-Lands (Illinois)
- #21 - Keita Bates-Diop (Ohio State)
- #20 - Jae’Sean Tate (Ohio State)
- #19 - James Blackmon (Indiana)
- #18 - Eron Harris (Michigan State)
- #17 - Corey Sanders (Rutgers)
- #16 - Derrick Walton, Jr. (Michigan)
- #15 - Isaac Haas (Purdue)
- #14 - JaQuan Lyle (Ohio State)
- #13 - Bryant McIntosh (Northwestern)
- #12 - Miles Bridges (Michigan State)
- #11 - to be continued ...