Miles Bridges Providing Hope For His Hometown
It has been 16 years since Michigan State University won a men’s college basketball national championship.
Miles Bridges (Flint, Mich./Huntington Prep) was two years old when ‘The Flintstones’ took East Lansing, Michigan, by storm en route to the second national title in school history. Charlie Bell, Mateen Cleaves, Morris Peterson and Antonio Smith all hailed from Flint, and each played a pivotal role for the Spartans during the famed 1999-00 championship season.
Fast forward to 2016, and this future Spartan has his sight set on bringing a national title back to Michigan State, among other achievements.
The 6-foot-7 forward said he still hears from the Spartans’ heroes when he goes back to Flint. The most impactful message they all have echoed to Bridges doesn’t have to do with the on-court aspects, but more off the court.
“They told me to stay tough, represent Flint, Michigan, and use my head,” Bridges said. “Also to not do anything stupid because they’ve seen people have a hard time with that in school.”
The goal for Michigan State has not changed since the Spartans last cut the nets down in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 2000. Under the tutelage of Tom Izzo, Michigan State has been to seven final fours in his 21 seasons.
The last trip to the NCAA Tournament left a sour feeling for everyone involved with the Spartans program. An upset loss in the first round to 15-seed Middle Tennessee State University ended a year of promise quicker than anticipated.
Bridges remembers watching the madness unfold right in front of him last March, and it is another reason why he is gearing up for what hopes to be a rebound year.
“I’m looking forward to making it back to the tournament because after what happened this year, I want to make a long run,” Bridges said.
In hopes of landing a spot on the USA Men’s U18 National Team, Bridges is able to work on different facets of his game against international competition. The 2016 McDonald’s All-American has shown the ability to play above the rim with his scintillating vertical leap. Bridges knows to hopefully compete for a gold medal this summer as well as aid in Michigan State’s return to glory, the rest of the world will take notice of what he has to offer.
“I trust that I have great vision on the floor. I can be a point-forward if need be and I’m working on my jump shot,” Bridges said. “I want to be able to play every position.”
One of Tom Izzo’s recent graduates is making a name for himself as a NBA Champion and by being one of the most versatile players in the league: Draymond Green.
Izzo’s coaching background, which includes being the head coach of the 2003 USA Men’s Pan American Team, is another aspect that convinced Bridges to continue the Flint pipeline. He said there are multiple instances that the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee has already had an impact before playing a game at the Breslin Center.
“All of my meetings with him always have a good laugh in them,” Bridges said. “He’s got a great sense of humor and I know he’s someone I want to play for because he’s a real man.”
There are 18 finalists hoping to land a spot on the USA Men’s U18 National Team that will compete at the 2016 FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Valdivia, Chile, from July 19-23.
Some of the USA U18 hopefuls still have another year of high school remaining and some are on their way to the collegiate ranks.
But most other players don’t have an entire city waiting and watching, hoping he will provide a glimmer of hope like Bridges does.
During a time when Flint has dealt with hardships, Bridges is attempting to give a sense of hope and pride back to his hometown, just as the Flintstones did in 2000. Whether it is by representing the U.S. in international competition or winning a national title, Bridges has his eye on the prize.
“I hope one day I’m a gold medalist, a national champion as well as someone with the talent to play in the NBA.”