When Miles Bridges listed Michigan among a group of finalists that also included Michigan State, Kentucky, North Carolina and Indiana recently, many recruiting observers believed the Maize & Blue had been on the receiving end of a token mention. To that point the Flint (Mich.) native hadn’t visited Michigan’s campus, and as a result he hadn’t yet received a Michigan offer. Then August 3rd rolled around and things changed. He finally made his way to Ann Arbor, and before leaving town received that long anticipated scholarship offer. That, though, wasn’t the only important aspect of the visit.
Also of great significance was the opportunity the coaching staff had to get better acquainted with a family who by comparison was much more familiar with Michigan State.
“(Tom Izzo) is so nice,” Bridges mother Cynthia said. “Really all of (the coaches) are really nice. Coach Izzo is a family oriented coach. Coach Beilein, he seems nice. My first time meeting him was two weeks ago. I had talked to him, but I had never met him. I looked at him like a principal. I told him that and he said, ‘a principal?!’ (Laughter). But he’s a down-to-earth man. He jokes. (Izzo and Beilein) are both nice.”
As pivotal as relationships with coaches will be to her son’s ultimate decision, there is another factor that mom is emphasizing above others.
“It’s the education,” said Mrs. Bridges. “You have the (basketball) skills, but that’s not going to last a long time. If he makes it to the NBA, those are limited years. He’s going to have to retire and he is going to have to fall back on his degree. So the education is the #1 area for Miles that he has to concentrate on.”
“We were really impressed with (the academic presentation at) U of M,” she later added. “All the freshmen will have tutors. They will be with them when they travel. Every day they will be with them. They will let him know what he needs to do. If he doesn’t get it done in the morning, when he has free time, he can always go in the afternoon or later on that night to finish a paper.”
By visit’s end the Wolverines’ clearly had made some headway, but there definitely still more ground to make up. Michigan State’s deep connection to Flint and longstanding pursuit of the five-star wing established it as the presumed favorite for quite some time. Recent scuttlebutt, though, has the pendulum swinging squarely in Kentucky’s direction. Bridges himself hasn’t named a favorite publicly, and his mother would only confirm that there is one without specifying who it is. That said, she did dismiss the idea that schools closer to home have an inherent advantage.
“I don’t think (distance from home) will matter,” Mrs. Bridges said matter-of-factly. “We were thinking the closer (he was to home), like Michigan or Michigan State, (the more likely it would be that) so-called friends would come and visit him and we wouldn’t know about it, or that he would come back to Flint without us knowing… which we don’t want to happen. We want him to stay at the school. But even though with Michigan and Michigan State that’s our concern, the coaches told us that he wouldn’t have the time to drive back here. He would be too busy.”
Both programs will have the chance to further demonstrate just how busy during his upcoming official visits. The Spartans will have their crack on September 12th, while the Wolverines will have theirs October 10th.
Indiana will start Bridges’ visit slate August 28th. According to Mrs. Bridges trips to Kentucky and North Carolina will occur between the visits to Michigan State and Michigan, though exact dates weren’t specified.