MSU’s Miles Bridges declares for NBA Draft

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

East Lansing — There will be so surprise return this year for Miles Bridges.

Bridges, a Michigan State sophomore who took many off guard when he came back for a second season in East Lansing, announced on Wednesday morning that he is forgoing his final two seasons of eligibility and entering this summer’s NBA Draft.

“God couldn’t have placed me in a better place for these last two years,” Bridges said in a statement on Twitter. “I want to thank Coach Izzo and the rest of the coaching staff for giving a skinny kid from Flint a chance to play at such a legendary program. I would like to thank the academic support staff for helping me out every day. I also want to thank Spartan Nation for welcoming me with open arms into their community and school. And last but not least, I would like to thank my teammates for the bond and memories that we will share for a lifetime.”

Bridges, who also announced he was signing with Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, led Michigan State in scoring in each of his two seasons as the Spartans won the Big Ten regular-season championship in 2018 with a 30-5 overall record.

A projected lottery pick last year, Bridges announced in the spring he was returning to play his sophomore season with the hopes of winning a national championship. He was unable to reach that goal as Michigan State was knocked off by Syracuse in the second round of this year’s NCAA Tournament.

“Miles wanted to come back to school this year because he loved Michigan State, he loved his teammates and friends and he loved being part of this community,” coach Tom Izzo said in a statement. “I think I speak for all of Spartan Nation in thanking him for how he represented us and for all of the great things he helped us achieve. He’s given us everything we could ask for and so much more.

“Miles is a mature young man who has excelled on the court and has been an exemplary student. I think he’s ready to handle being a pro basketball player both on and off the court. More than anything, he conducted himself with the utmost class and humility. As his coach, it’s a thrill for me to see him getting the chance to live his dream and I look forward to following his career in the NBA.”

This season, Bridges was a unanimous All-Big Ten first-team selection and was named a second-team All-American by The Sporting News, the United States Basketball Writers Association, USA Today and the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC).

Bridges led Michigan State in scoring with 17 points per game, was second on the team with seven rebounds and third on the team with 2.8 assists per game. He ranked sixth in the Big Ten in scoring, 11th in rebounding and fourth in the league in free throw percentage (85.3 percent).

Bridges, a Flint native, was also selected to the National Ballot for the John R. Wooden Award, is one of five finalists for the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award and is one of 10 national semifinalists competing for the 50th Citizen Naismith Trophy for Men’s College Player of the Year.

Bridges is currently projected by most mock drafts to go in the top half of the first round of the NBA Draft, which is on June 21.

Teammate Jaren Jackson Jr. has yet to announce whether he’ll return to Michigan State. Jackson, a 6-foot-11 freshman, is projected as a top-10 pick if he enters the draft.