FLINT, MI – Hearing the old-school tales of Michigan State legend Terry Furlow were normal to Miles Bridges growing up.
Bridges still remembers the impact of the Tom Izzo’s first national championship team in 2000, led by Flintstones Morris Peterson, Mateen Cleaves and Charlie Bell.
Being exposed to the hometown pride that comes along with slipping on a Spartan jersey, as early as 2 years old, ultimately led the five-star basketball recruit to continue that Flintstone tradition by committing to Michigan State.
Bridges, 17, returned to Flint to announce the news during a packed press conference Saturday, Oct. 3, on the campus of Mott Community College. The 6-foot-7, 235-pound swingman felt it was necessary to share that special moment with family and friends.
Ironically, MSU also celebrated its homecoming festivities on the same day.
“It’s so much history there (at Michigan State),” said Bridges, ranked No. 8 in the ESPN 100 for the Class of 2016. “I wanted to be just like (the Flintstones) or even better than them. I want to do what they did because it’s all in the Flint blood.
“It’s not that much pressure because I’m doing it at home,” he continued.
Kentucky and Indiana were his other options, but after taking an official trip to East Lansing during the Oregon football game Saturday, Sept. 12, with ESPN’s College GameDay in town, he was pretty much sold on the MSU program. He was originally scheduled to attend Big Blue Madness on Oct. 16 at Kentucky, but rescheduled immediately after the MSU visit.
“The reason why I bumped my visit up is because I didn’t want to waste my time going to Big Blue Madness,” Bridges said. “I loved Michigan and UNC, too, but I didn’t want to waste their time because I knew I wasn’t going there.
“With Kentucky, I wanted to see what they had in store for me but after that Michigan State visit, I already knew where I was going.”
He was joined by his mother, Cynthia Bridges, where she says they were treated like royalty around campus. Bridges also mingled with former Spartan Draymond Green and his NBA championship trophy then hung out at Spartan Stadium with other ex-players.
Although Cynthia didn’t prefer to have her son so close to home, with potential distractions, Izzo and Green both made her feel comfortable by breaking down how the busy college schedule isn’t fit for him to drift off in the wrong direction. He will pursue a degree in communications.
Cynthia was most impressed with the family-oriented atmosphere presented by Izzo.
At one point during the visit, she even recalled Coach Izzo forgetting his wallet at home so they were forced to turn around before heading to the gym. In Izzo’s absence, she asked Miles, “How do you feel?”
“I said ‘I’m feeling MSU how about you?’ and he said, ‘Yes’ and then we gave each other high fives,” she said. “When Coach got in the car, we didn’t say anything about it to him.”
Nearly a week in advance of the press conference, Bridges decided to let Izzo and Green in on the news about his commitment.
Flint native and local hoops coach Timothy Jones was also one of the few people that Bridges told ahead of time. Jones, 28, coached against Bridges in his middle school days at Grand Blanc’s Woodland Park Academy, where he made his first dunk. He then took over a mentorship role throughout the busy summer heading into his senior year to help keep his mind clear on improving as a basketball player.
“I don’t want him thinking one-and-done when he goes to college,” Jones said. “I want him thinking, ‘I want to be able to last in the NBA and take care of my family.’
“I don’t want him to just be a one-and-done that had a lot of hype and not develop his skills to where he can last 15 years in the NBA.”
Bridges will join his AAU teammate Cassius Winston with other top commits Josh Langford, Nick Ward and possibly Josh Jackson who represent a strong recruiting class. He wants to wear No. 1 in honor of Tracy McGrady, but No. 22 is his second option.
After Winston verbally committed to MSU on Sept. 18, Bridges said he often received random text messages from the decorated floor general encouraging him to follow him at the same school.
“Cassius wasn’t really recruiting me, he would just keep saying ‘Come mess with me, bro,’” Bridges laughed.
Although Bridges’ goal is to reach the NBA, he also wants to lead MSU to a national championship.
“I feel like I can be good for the program and I can help them win,” Bridges said. “We can win a title for sure, we’ve just got to put in the work.”
While going through the recruiting process, Bridges was reminded of all the one-and-done players Wildcats coach John Calipari has helped reach the NBA. Calipari has more top-10 picks, lottery selections and first-round picks than any other team in the country. In six seasons, he’s sent off three No. 1 selections.
Six Kentucky players were drafted in 2015, including No. 1 pick Karl-Anthony Towns, but seeing that success didn’t sway Bridges’ decision because he’s confident in his talent in any system.
“All I’ve got to do is stay in the gym and I can do what I need to do and get out of school in one or two years wherever I go,” Bridges said. “It doesn’t matter what school I go to so I wasn’t really worried about any of that.”
Revealing the decision was a big relief to Bridges, who plans to leave town Sunday.
He will accompany his girlfriend, Jacara Thompson, to Swartz Creek’s homecoming dance Saturday night before taking off to Huntington Prep High School in Huntington, W.Va., to finish his senior year.
“I didn’t want to wait any longer because that recruiting stuff was starting to get on my nerves,” Bridges said. “I just wanted to get it over with so I can focus on school.”
By Eric Woodyard | MLive.com