MSU’s Bridges lands on Julius Erving Award watch list

The Detroit News

Miles Bridges says one reason he returned to Michigan State for his sophomore season was to win a national championship.

He could win some personal awards, too.

Bridges is one of 21 players named to the Julius Erving Award, given annually to the nation’s top small forward, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced Wednesday.

As a freshman, Bridges averaged 16.9 points and 8.3 rebounds per game to lead the Spartans, while also knocking down 39 percent of his 3-pointers. Bridges was the Big Ten’s Freshman of the Year, and earned Freshman All-American honors from the Sporting News.

After he opted to put the NBA on hold, MSU’s national title chances soared, and Bridges was projected to be one of the nation’s top players this season.

On Tuesday, he was chosen as the Big Ten preseason player of the year by media members, while the Spartans were the unanimous pick to finish atop the Big Ten. Bridges is NBC Sports’ Preseason Player of the Year.

Bridges will try to join former MSU star Denzel Valentine as past winners of the Julius Erving Award, which will be announced April 6. Valentine won it in 2015-16, following Arizona’s Stanley Johnson, who won it in 2014-15. Johnson is entering his third season with the Pistons.