Miles Bridges’ impending return to Michigan State is the game-changer of the offseason.
It’s not quite done yet.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski, who is as plugged in with agents as anyone, Bridges is expected to return to Michigan State for his sophomore season, bypassing the chance to, potentially, be a top ten pick despite being “encouraged” to leave by everyone from Tom Izzo to agents to former Spartans now playing in the NBA. He may take the weekend to think on it.
But if he does come back?
Michigan State goes from being a Big Ten title challenger to a team that could very well end up being the preseason No. 1 team in the country.
I don’t say that lightly, either. As it stands, we have the Spartans at No. 11 in our Preseason Top 25, but that’s assuming that Bridges, who averaged 16.9 points, 8.3 boards, 2.1 assists and 1.5 blocks — a stat-line that hasn’t been posted in 25 years, which is as far back as basketball reference’s database goes — playing predominantly as a small-ball four for a team that saw half their front line rotation miss the year with knee injuries. If Bridges returns, he won’t only be a sure-fire Preseason All-American, he might be the Preseason National Player of the Year.
With Bridges back, this is what Michigan State’s roster breakdown will look like:
- PG: Cassius Winston, So.
- SG: Joshua Langford, So.
- SF: Miles Bridges, So.
- PF: Jaren Jackson, Fr.
- C: Nick Ward, So.
- Bench: Xavier Tillman, Fr.; Matt McQuaid, Jr.; Tum Tum Nairn, Sr.; Kyle Ahrens, Jr.; Gavin Schilling, Sr.; Kenny Goins, Jr.
Assuming the back court takes a step forward, which is what typically happens to freshmen when they become sophomores, that roster is as good as any in college basketball, and that’s before you throw in that they are coached by Tom Izzo, who has a habit of getting the most out of his teams.
And frankly, this could end up being Izzo’s best chance to win a title since his title.
You’re giving him a National Player of the Year candidate in Bridges, one that is just too perfectly suited to playing that role in this system. You’re giving him a center in Ward that averaged 13.9 points and 6.5 boards in less than 20 minutes per game as a freshman. You’re giving a five-star prospect in Jaren Jackson that should slot in perfectly alongside Bridges and Ward.
Izzo can make do with that.
And if Winston and Langford do take that step forward?
Then Bridges’ return would be what makes the Spartans a favorite to win the national title.
Like I said: game-changer.