Tuesday, June 25, 2013
ESPN 100 SF Bridges picks Villanova
By Dave Telep
It’ll take forward Mikal Bridges (Malvern, Pa./Great Valley) 15 minutes to get from his doorstep to his dorm in the fall of 2014 at Villanova.
During an unofficial campus visit, the fast-rising Top 100 player popped for the Wildcats.
Mikal Bridges opted for Villanova at an opportune time in the recruiting calendar.
After averaging 20 points per game as a junior and exploding onto the scene with Team Final in the spring, Bridges found himself with interest from Florida, Georgetown, Virginia Tech and a host of other programs. None captivated him the way Villanova did.
“I always liked Villanova,” Bridges said. “It was my dream school. As soon as they offered I figured I’d definitely go here.”
Villanova’s class now has a combo forward in Bridges, currently No. 79 in the ESPN 100, No. 20 among small forwards. Next up for Jay Wright and his staff is addressing the guard position. The Wildcats offered and targeted Phil Booth, Robert Johnson and Ja'Quan Newton, another Philadelphia area product.
The Wildcats rebuild, if you wish to call it that, is in Year Two. Wright revamped Villanova’s wish list for players last season and put a premium on guys who were good enough, wanted to wear the Villanova jersey and had the requisite character. Last week, the Wildcats tapped 2015 power forward Tim Delaney. This week, Bridges pledged.
“It’s their offense, how hyped up they get when they play,” Bridges said of the Wildcats. “I went to a couple games; you could tell. Even on the bench. Their players are just hyped; even off small things ... little things like hustle plays. I really liked that.”
The timing of Bridges' commitment is a big boost for Villanova. By landing one of their top targets pre-July, it allows Wright to be flexible with his time commitments in July. Instead of having to watch Bridges as if he’s recruiting him, Wright already has him. If situations occur -- and they will -- where Wright can’t be in two places at once, instead of having to weigh which player to see, he can explain to Bridges why he wasn’t at a game, because he was working a future classmate.
However, none of that matters if the player isn’t good enough. But Bridges is exactly the type of forward you want to take right now. A late bloomer by today’s standards, he’s popping up on Top 100 lists because of his talent. He one day could move up on said lists because of his play. The last thing Villanova needed was for him to go out in July, blow up and all the sudden become a less-attainable target. Therefore, the commitment of a player who’s on the way up, at this moment in the calendar, is significant.