MSU’s Bridges up to No. 15 on SI’s ‘Big Board’

The Detroit News

Miles Bridges’ NBA draft stock continues to climb, it seems.

Michigan State’s star freshman is up three spots to No. 15 on Sports Illustrated’s “Big Board 3.0,” released Thursday to coincide with the start of the NCAA Tournament’s Field of 64.

Bridges, who hasn’t announced his plans for next season, has seen his name move up similar “big boards” at Fox Sports and ESPN in recent weeks as MSU prepares for its 20th straight NCAA Tournament appearance Friday night against Miami (Fla.).

Bridges leads the Spartans in scoring (16.7) and rebounding (8.3) while hitting nearly 39 percent of his 3-point attempts.

“An explosive athlete first and foremost, Bridges has inched his way up this board by continuing to produce for Michigan State, particularly as a distance shooter,” writes Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated. “He’ll need the three-ball to translate in order to stay on the floor offensively as an undersized frontcourt player. If he can help with spacing, run the floor and contribute high energy on the glass and both sides of the ball, Bridges could be a uniquely impactful NBA player.

“He’s a miscast as the Spartans’ leading scorer (somewhat out of necessity), and with better shot selection and less pressure to carry the load could excel. If the offense doesn’t click against better competition — and those concerns are justifiable — it might be tough to keep him on the floor.”

Also on Sports Illustrated’s Big Board is Detroit native Josh Jackson, a freshman at Kansas, holding steady at No. 3. Woo calls Jackson “the most well-rounded wing in the draft.”

“He’s been an eye-popping college player and basically bullied his way around all season with his strength and explosiveness,” said Woo, who also noted Jackson’s off-court issues.

Bridges and Jackson could meet in the second round, if the Spartans can get past the No. 8 seed Hurricanes, and top-seeded Kansas can defeat No. 16 seed UC Davis.