TULSA, Okla. — Michigan State freshman Miles Bridges only has a handful of people whom he’ll let influence his choice of whether to enter the 2017 NBA Draft or return to the Spartans.
“I’m just going to talk to my mom and my coaches about the situation,” he said Sunday, “try to get some feedback, and I’ll make my decision.”
In the wake of Michigan State’s 90-70 loss to top-seeded Kansas in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday, Bridges finally spoke out about his future. He had stayed quiet up to this point, opting to stay vague when asked.
Spartans coach Tom Izzo had been trying to get him to talk about the decision earlier on, to get it out in the open. Bridges chose not to do so.
“I’ve just got to tell you he’s a weird kid,” Izzo said. “I’ve begged him to talk about it a couple times, because after going through some things years ago, he has to be upfront with everything and it’s better. When he says that he has two things in mind — sending the seniors out the right way and trying to win a championship — I can honestly tell everybody in this space that’s what he did. I have an obligation to him. He doesn’t really have one to me now.”
Bridges, who scored 22 points and grabbed 8 rebounds against Kansas, will sit down with Izzo this week to discuss his draft stock and where he stands. His mother, Izzo said, wanted to keep agents and other outside influences out of the process, and that continues to be the plan.
As for friendships at Michigan State, Bridges values them, but he won’t let them dictate his future.
“I love my team,” he said, “but I’m always going to make the best decision for myself.”
Bridges does have the option of entering the draft without an agent, which would allow him to return if he so chooses. He said he won’t rush into any decision.
Izzo, who has seen such players as the Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green (who visited the Spartans in the locker room on Sunday) and the Denver Nuggets’ Gary Harris thrive in the NBA, said he may have to take a stand detrimental to the future of his own team.
“There’s too much on the line,” Izzo said. “My job might be to encourage him to go. And you know what? I will do that if that’s what I think is best for him, his family and his situation.”
ESPN’s Chad Ford projected Bridges as a lottery pick in his February mock draft. Bridges averaged 16.7 points and 8.3 rebounds as a freshman. He missed seven games with an ankle injury.
The Spartans will already be losing seniors Alvin Ellis III and Eron Harris. On Sunday, Izzo sounded prepared to lose Bridges as well.
“If he’s here another year, we’re blessed,” Izzo said. “If he’s not here another year, we were lucky.”