On Wednesday morning, Miles Bridges officially announced that he would be departing Michigan State after two seasons and taking his talents to the 2018 NBA Draft. While this is unsurprising news, it is significant news for the program and Spartan fans.
Bridges arrived on campus in the fall of 2016 with immensely high expectations. He was rated as a five-star recruit by 247Sports and as the No. 12 prospect in the class. Bridges also had substantial interest from programs including Florida, Indiana, and Kentucky.
These scouting evaluations made Bridges one of the most highly projected players to join Tom Izzo’s program in his tenure. In fact, a brief review of the 247Sports database shows that Bridges was the highest rated commit for Michigan State in more than a decade.
Following his arrival on campus, Bridges put up monster numbers. He averaged 17.0 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 2.4 assists over his two-year career and earned All-Big Ten first-team honors as a sophomore. He also came up huge in a number of key games, including the team’s exciting home win over Purdue this season, where he finished with 20 points.
Obviously, the loss of Bridges will be significant for the Spartans heading into next season. Izzo and his staff continue to recruit and develop talent, but replacing a player like Bridges is nearly impossible. He’s the kind of player that doesn't’ come around often.
Michigan State will, realistically, have to hope it can replace Bridges’ contributions with a few different players. Expect players like Xavier Tillman and some of the team’s incoming freshmen to take many of these minutes.
For Bridges, he will now progress through workouts and scouting evaluations. NBADraft.net projects him as the 13th pick at the moment. This is roughly where he was projected after his freshman season, so this could be a nice opportunity to see whether his decision to return to school helped or hurt his draft stock.
Bridges may not have had the career in East Lansing that many hoped to see, but he will still go down as one of the better Spartans of the last decade and will likely have a long and productive NBA career in the years to come.