The weeks Miles Bridges spent deciding whether to enter the 2017 NBA Draft were “more nerve-wracking than difficult,” because there never really was a decision to make. Bridges knew all along what he wanted: another year of college, another year of college basketball, another year with his Michigan State teammates. The challenge was in convincing so many others who insisted his choice was reckless or foolish or ludicrous. That included his coach, Tom Izzo. How many times did Izzo insist to Bridges that he ought to leave — that he had to leave? When Bridges told Izzo he wished to return to Michigan State because he wanted to win an NCAA championship, you know what Izzo said? Sorry, can’t tell you — but it was along the lines of “I told him he’s full of it.” Izzo worried what the consequences would be for Bridges if he passed on the opportunity to become a lottery pick after his freshman season. He worried about the consequences for the MSU basketball program if an elite recruit such as Bridges did not become a “one-and-done.” Bridges is 6-7, 230 pounds. There are hints of Kawhi Leonard (toughness, length), Gordon Hayward (shooting), Terrence Ross (athleticism) and Trevor Booker (rebounding) in his game. Enough of all of that — and enough weaknesses, as well — that Bridges was told he would likely be picked anywhere from No. 8 to No. 14 in the 2017 NBA Draft. “I’ve got people telling me. 'Well, you know, you’ve got to push him out,'” Izzo told Sporting News. This was not a typical player-coach circumstance. Coaches generally don’t cajole elite players to leave their teams, and players generally don’t look at the promise of becoming a multi-millionaire and decide it can wait. This curiosity percolated for several weeks following the end of the Spartans’ 2016-17 season in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, with Bridges trying very hard not to take Izzo’s position personally and with Izzo questioning his own intelligence. Then came the evening of April 12, when Michigan State held its annual Academic Excellence Gala: one of the coach’s favorite events each year, only he wasn’t able to enjoy this one quite as much. Because when it was over, and after Bridges left a church service in which teammate Lourawls "Tum Tum" Nairn addressed the congregation, Izzo picked up his freshman star for a come-to-Jesus meeting as they drove through the Michigan State campus late into the night.
Why Miles Bridges dodged the NBA draft to stay at Michigan State
Sporting News - NCAAB | Jul 27