Hometown: Malvern, PA
High School: Great Valley
In the 2014-15 season, Mikal Bridges wasn't able to contribute much due to a redshirt. Many of you may remember his honored role as the pre-game, center circle hype man to help pump the team up (looking at you this season Paschall/Delaney!) He'd bust some moves and blast imaginary home runs, but once the whistle blew he'd spend the rest of every game at the end of the bench. However, back before the season began, Bridges did play in Villanova's preseason exhibition game against Northwood. While he was only in for 14 minutes, Bridges did record 3 points, 3 rebounds... and 4 blocks. To put those blocks into perspective, Ochefu had 4+ blocks in only 4 games last season, and he played at least 23 minutes in each of them.
That's what Bridges and his over 7-foot wingspan bring to this team on the defensive end. He's as good at disrupting shots as he is at closing off passing lanes and bringing the offense's ball movement to a grinding halt. That length will be especially useful at the point position of Jay Wright's 1-2-2 press. In high school, Bridges showed an equal amount of skill on the offensive end of the court. While he was a capable slasher from the wing his length and range made him a perimeter threat as well, averaging 18.5 PPG his senior year.
The biggest knock on Bridges is his lack of weight and strength. This could be especially troublesome this season as he'll likely be asked to play some time at the 4 position with freshman Tim Delaney likely redshirting this season. While Bridges has the length of a power forward, he still has the build of a shooting guard. His effectiveness on both ends of the court will likely depend on how well he can match up against forwards, rather than the guards he's used to dominating. All of that being said, Bridges is easily the biggest dark horse candidate on the team for a breakout season in 2015-16.
Best Case Scenario: Bridges weight and strength are a non-issue as he becomes a defensive presence in the Wildcats rotation. That combined with his ability to score from anywhere on the court make him a mismatch that the opposition can't account for. Bridges earns a spot as the second man off the bench and significant minutes in the rotation.
Worst Case Scenario: The lack of experience and overall size are too much for the red shirt freshman to overcome. While he shows flashes of what's to come in future seasons, he sees minimal minutes off the bench for the wildcats this year.
We are pleased to bring back our Wisdom of Crowds experiment for the 2015-2016 season. In this series, we ask that you consider the points covered in our player preview to supplement your own personal insights and instincts to predict the points per game each scholarship player on the roster we score in the upcoming season.
Mikal Bridges is a red shirt freshman, so we don't have the benefit of prior year stats as a basis for our scoring predication. To the extent that history is a guide, here's a sample of the scoring averages of past Villanova guards and wings during their freshman campaigns:
- Josh Hart - 7.8 ppg
- Darrun Hilliard - 4.8 ppg
- James Bell - 2.4 ppg
- Dominic Cheek - 4.9 ppg
What do you think the upcoming season holds for Bridges? Use the voting buttons below to predict the points per game you think he will score this year. We'd love to understand your thinking, so try to post a comment to tell us how you arrived at your prediction.