Jay Wright is likely done recruiting for the class 2014. Villanova basketball’s incoming class which is ranked 37th nationally by ESPN is made up of two players, Mikal Bridges (Great Valley, PA and Phil Both (Mount St. Joseph’s MD). Bridges and Both are both listed as 4-star recruits.
Many people believe the class is highlighted by Mikal Bridges. Bridges is listed at 6-7 185 pounds and plays small forward. He is rated the second highest recruit in Pennsylvania behind Miami pledge Ja’ Quan Newton. Bridges gives this class a local feel to it, as he only lives 20 minutes away from the Villanova campus.
He is a very athletic scorer with great upside, but needs to get stronger according to scout.com. Bridges might have been underrated during the recruiting process as he did not emerge as a high-upside recruit until the spring of his junior year when he averaged 22 points and 9 rebounds a game. As a result, most recruiting sites believe he has great upside, and has the tools to develop at the collegiate level.
People have criticized Bridges for playing against lesser competition in high school. In an interview with Big East Bias, Bridges had this to say about people thinking he plays against lesser competition. “People say that I play with low competition. My coach tries to schedule tough teams and we try to play them to see how we look. When we go to playoffs the competition gets tougher, and as you see from last season, we went pretty far. So, it’s not like we’re weak.”
These critics may have had a point as Bridges play in the public Ches-Mont League, instead of playing in the Philadelphia Catholic League which has historically been known to be a great basketball league.
When asked about why he chose Villanova, Bridges said “I picked Villanova because first it’s a great school academically and the coaches are excellent. I like them a lot and that was a huge part.” With the graduation of James Bell, Bridges is going to have the chance right away to prove himself. His length should be allow him to contribute on the defensive end and his willingness to hit the boards and his three-point range should also be valuable assets as he works to refine his offensive game. The future looks bright for Villanova basketball with the additions of Bridges and Booth.
Like most people, I think Bridges has great potential. If he continues to improve and get stronger there is no reason why he should not succeed at Villanova. He had an outstanding High School career at Great Valley where he improved drastically over his four year career there. Bridges will be playing for one of the best college coaches in the game, Jay Wright, who has a history of developing players over their career at Villanova. Wright is a great teacher and players love playing for him.
Look at James Bell for example- he was not much of a factor his freshman or sophomore year, but improved every year while he was at Villanova. His freshman year he only averaged 2.4 points per game, compared to his senior season where he averaged 14.5 points per game and was selected to first team all-Big East.
It might take Bridges some time at first to get acclimated to the college game, but I think with Coach Wright’s assistance he will put him in a role where he can maximize his potential. I do not think he will be starting right away only because it is uncommon for a freshman to start the first game of their career unless they are a 5-star recruit who is likely to be a one and done player. However, Bridges will still be able to make an impact if he is not starting.
Bridges is known to be a great defensive player. Since defense is something Jay Wright stresses I believe Bridges will see a lot of time on defense in the beginning of the season because of his great length and athleticism. With Bridges great work ethic and with the help of Jay Wright and his coaching staff Makil Bridges is on track to have an outstanding career at Villanova.