Michigan State's Miles Bridges, Nick Ward among ESPN's top 25 returning players By this point, you may know that the Michigan State men's basketball team is the Vegas favorite to win both the Big Ten and the national championship next season.And two of the reasons for this are rising sophomores Miles Bridges and Nick Ward, both of which were named to ESPN's list of top 25 college basketball players for the 2017-18 season. Bridges comes in at No. 8 while Ward's at No. 17. One might wonder why Bridges isn't even higher, especially considering the fact he was projected to be a lottery pick in this year's NBA draft. But two incoming freshmen (Missouri's Michael Porter Jr. and Arizona's DeAndre Ayton) are ahead of him, as is Wisconsin's Ethan Happ.
Wrote ESPN's John Gasaway about Bridges: "You can make a case that in many ways Bridges improved as he logged more games as a freshman (most notably, he drained 42 percent of his 3s in Big Ten play), and his decision to return for a sophomore year gives Michigan State an enormous boost for 2017-18. At 6-foot-7, Bridges is a classic dual-threat wing (who often plays at power forward or even, on occasion, center), but he's also one who can clean the glass and even protect the rim." Gasaway compares Ward to former Kentucky star and current New Orleans Pelican DeMarcus Cousins, and says he may be the nation's best offensive rebounder : "You might have to go back to the freshman year DeMarcus Cousins recorded at Kentucky in 2009-10 to find a combination of "per-possession dominance" and "not many possessions" like what we saw from Ward last season. Tom Izzo's sophomore will enter 2017-18 as possibly the best offensive rebounder in the nation, and Ward's per-minute ability to draw fouls fairly boggles the statistical mind. If the 6-foot-8 center can stay on the floor and out of foul trouble for extended minutes, he'll quite rightly top every list of breakout sophomores." That's high praise.
Last season, Bridges averaged 16.9 points and 8.3 rebounds per game and Ward tallied 13.9 and 6.5, respectively.
via/ P Friend