The Michigan State Spartans have one less thing to worry about next season, as freshman sensation Miles Bridges will be returning to school in 2017-18.
Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical first reported Bridges' decision to bypass this year's NBA draft:
Barring a late change of heart, (Bridges), a projected lottery pick in the 2017 NBA draft, plans to return for his sophomore season, sources told The Vertical.
Despite coach Tom Izzo, family and even Spartans NBA alumni and professional agents encouraging him to leave, Bridges is telling everyone that it’s his intention to bypass the draft, sources told The Vertical.
Bridges confirmed his decision to stay at Michigan State on Thursday.
"I want to finish business here," he said, per Brendan F. Quinn of MLive.com. "I want to stay."
Even though Michigan State had an up-and-down season, Bridges was a clear standout for the Spartans. He led the team with 16.9 points, 8.3 rebounds and tied for the team lead with 1.5 blocks per game, while also shooting 38.9 percent from three-point range.
For his efforts, Bridges was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year and voted to the second-team All-Big Ten.
Listed at 6'7" and 230 pounds on Michigan State's official athletic website, Bridges has the combination of size and athleticism to play guard or forward at the next level, but one more year of college will give him a chance to fully tap into his potential and be taken even higher.
Bleacher Report's NBA draft guru Jonathan Wasserman had Bridges going in the lottery at No. 11 overall to the Portland Trail Blazers in his mock draft on March 10:
One of the top athletes in the draft, Bridges has earned attention with his insane leaping ability and quickness for a 230-pounder. But he's flashed some intriguing skills to go with it, including a 40.8 percent three-point stroke, slashing and passing.
With foot speed and a strong, wide frame, Bridges could actually win coaches over with his defensive versatility.
Even with questions concerning his NBA fit, his ceiling reaches another level compared to Maurice Harkless' or Al-Farouq Aminu's.
Instead of trying to convince NBA scouts right now that his lack of a defined position is a detriment, Bridges will go back to Michigan State to prove it really doesn't matter where you put him on the floor. The numbers will always show up because he puts himself in the middle of everything.
The Spartans and head coach Tom Izzo will happily welcome Bridges back. They sputtered their way to a 19-14 record during the regular season, though they did get into the tournament as a No. 9 seed.
With Bridges back on the roster, the Spartans will likely start next season on the short list of favorites to win the Big Ten title. He will need more help for the team to achieve that goal, but this is a great surprise present for them.