Bridges’ decision comes less than three weeks after he took an official visit to Michigan State. Prior to the trip, Kentucky and the Spartans were thought to be engaged in a close battle for Bridges, but Michigan State was viewed as the favorite entering Saturday, in part because of his “positive” experience in East Lansing. Bridges had planned to visit Kentucky for its Big Blue Madness event in the middle of October, but he decided instead to see Lexington the weekend of September 18.
Bridges told Scout.com that his decision was heavily influenced by the commitment of four-star point guard Cassius Winston, another Michigan native and his AAU teammate. The pair took their official visits to Michigan State together, on the weekend of Sept. 12.
“When he committed, then I basically switched over to Michigan State from Kentucky,” Bridges said. “At first I thought Cassius was going to Michigan. When he went to Michigan State, it changed everything.”
Bridges had said that he felt pressure to pick Michigan State because of his Flint roots, and during his announcement, acknowledged that he'd wanted to come back home ever since leaving two years ago. Bridges began his high school career at Flint Southwestern Academy but transferred to Huntington Prep (W. Va.) before his sophomore year. The city produced four players—Mateen Cleaves, Morris Peterson, Antonio Smith and Charlie Bell—who helped the program achieve NCAA tournament success around the turn of the century, including a national championship in 2000 (Smith graduated in 1999).
Bridges, Rivals.com’s No. 11 player in the class of 2016, solidified his status as one of the top players in the country with his play this year on the Elite Youth Basketball League Circuit. Over 22 games with his grassroots program, Michigan-based The Family, Bridges averaged 21.0 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. He shone at the circuit’s marquee event, the Peach Jam, averaging over 23 points and 10 rebounds, and drew attention this spring and summer for a series of violent dunks.
At 6’6,’’ 225 pounds, Bridges is renowned for his physicality, rebounding and ability to score in transition. “An athletic forward who loves to attack the rim and thrill the crowd with his aerial acrobatics in the open court, Bridges is a throwback who oozes toughness,” Eric Bossi, a recruiting analyst for Rivals.com, wrote about Bridges in July. “He crashes the glass and is just enough of a threat with the jumper that defenders can't totally play off of him.”
The addition of Bridges gives Michigan State a real chance at finishing with the top 2016 class, with five-star wing Josh Langford, four-star post Nick Ward and four-star point guard Winston. Regardless, his commitment solidifies potentially Tom Izzo's best-ever run of luck in assembling a class.
Bridges immediately received a congratulations from MSU alum Draymond Green.