“When I was first able to play in elementary school, that’s when I started loving the game” – Mikal Bridges.
The 6-foot-7 NBA prospect has come a long way loving the game of basketball. A 2x NCAA National Champion, Bridges has worked his way from the very beginning to become a potential lottery pick in the ’18 NBA Draft. Playing basketball in Pennsylvania most of his life, Mikal has learned a lot from many different coaches and had supporters that helped him along the way, but he knows whos been the biggest one of all.
“My mother has been my biggest supporter through it all and my whole family,” said Bridges.
High School- Great Valley
Bridges blossomed into a hometown talent for Malvern, Pennsylvania. Growing up, he attended Great Valley High School and was on the varsity basketball team. Playing as small forward, he had developed skills that put him in the starting position halfway through his sophomore season throughout the rest of his high school career.
Bridges earned himself basketball honors by making Philadelphia Inquirer’s All-Southeastern Pennsylvania First-Team as a junior. He then made First-Team All-State as a senior, averaging 18.5 points per game. Although, around the month of June before his senior season, Bridges knew where he wanted to continue playing basketball after his final season as a Great Valley Patriot. Staying in Pennsylvania, Bridges committed to play at Villanova University.
College- Villanova University
In 2014-15, Mikal’s first year at Villanova, he was taken under Jay Wright’s wing and redshirted. He continued to grow and study the game. While he was practicing ball handling, pushing through strength training with the team, and sitting on the bench during games, he was always a great teammate. Being that supportive, encouraging teammate, Bridges always gave them that extra push to win.
“He was a great teammate and always wanted to see his teammates do well,” said his former teammate and good friend, Eric Paschall.
“He would get more hype about his teammates having a great game than himself. Mikal always had my back. No matter what, he was the one that would bring great energy with me and always had fun on the court. Our chemistry actually just came from joking around all the time off the court. When it came to basketball though, we knew it was always business.”
One of the most important characteristics of being an NBA player is being a great teammate. Mikal Bridges has foreshadowed that role throughout his entire career at Villanova. That’s just the type of player any team would need.
“One day I gave him the nickname “kills” randomly. Everyone and the coaches called him that because he always was a killer on the court.”
“Yeah, my teammates would always talk about how I’m a killer on the court, so the name just kind of stuck,” said Bridges. “I had always enjoyed playing with all my teammates. That was the most fun about it all.”
Only playing for Villanova for three years, Mikal started off his freshman year with high accolades finishing fourth with a 92.8 defensive rating in the Big East. Sophomore year, he led the Big East in defensive rating with 93.3 As his game progressed, Mikal’s 7-foot wingspan has benefitted him and the Wildcats on the defensive side by tipping passes and getting in transition offense. Averaging 1.1 blocks per game senior year, he finished third in the Big East with blocks and had some clutch ones for the Wildcats.
MIKAL BRIDGES WITH THE HUGE BLOCK TO SAVE THE GAME FOR THE WILDCATS. NOVA AND CREIGHTON HEADED INTO OT!!
— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) February 24, 2018
Bridges found shooting as his most important aspect of the game to work on throughout his career in Villanova.
“I know there was a lot of touches I had to get,” said Bridges.” I couldn’t shoot that well, so I was definitely trying to better myself with that. But that’s what I knew I needed to work on and that’s what I’ve worked on to become a better ballplayer than I was before.”
What Bridges look to continue to work on his ball handling in the next level.
“I want to be able to take care of the ball more. I hope to work on that in the next level and also continue to work on my shot to become a better shooter on the run.”
Bridge’s outside shooting performance went upwards his senior season. Shooting only 39 percent from the three his in 2016-2017, his senior year he shot 43.5% from the three. His catch-and-shoot was becoming a norm for him as the season went on and teams were determined to get a hand up from outside the arc on him.
Mikal Bridges hits the 4 point play for NOVA!
— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) March 9, 2018
On the offensive side, Bridges scoring average boosted upwards 8 points per game with 17.7 points per game. What Bridges and other guards like Jalen Brunson were capable of consistently executing was the backdoor pass. His quick footwork planting, turning, and accelerating gets him behind defenders for those layups and dunks.
— #BIGEASThoops (@BIGEASTMBB) March 10, 2017
Staying at Villanova has impacted Mikal Bridge’s game over the years.
“I learned that I had to become more of a mature player and learned more about the game. As the years went by I was able to develop
Entering the NBA Draft at only 21 years old, Bridges is a 2x National Champion and 2018 Julius Erving Award winner. Mikal contributed to the 2016 National Championship and helped shoot Villanova to another National Championship in 2018 posting 19 points against the Michigan Wolverines.
“The second championship was a little more special because we both had a much bigger role and we loved playing with each other,” said Pascall. “I still remember winning the first one and being able to have a great experience with him and this great team.”
Bridges is looking forward to finding a home in the NBA and so do his teammates.
“I’m excited to see where I end up. I want to be able to fit with the team I’m selected by. I want to get better as a player and I believe I can do that anywhere. I know my guys Donte, Jalen, and Omari are in the Draft as well, so I hope the best for them and want to see where they go.”
Mikal Bridges will make his presence in New York tonight at the NBA Draft.