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2016 Villanova Basketball Preview: Mikal Bridges

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Secret is out: Bridges poised for a big season

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Hometown: Malvern, PA


High School: Great Valley High School


Height: 6'7"


Weight: 210


Career Stats (2015-2016 Season) :

SEASON

TEAM

MIN

FGM-FGA

FG%

3PM-3PA

3P%

FTM-FTA

FT%

REB

AST

BLK

STL

PF

TO

PTS

2015-16

NOVA

20.3

2.2-4.1

52.1%

0.6-1.9

29.9%

1.5-1.9

.787

3.2

0.9

0.0

0.7

1.1

0.6

6.4

Player Preview

Few Villanova fans were familiar with redshirt freshman Mikal Bridges when he first suited up for the Wildcats last season and even fewer college basketball fans knew his name when he Dwayne McClain'd the Wildcats into the Final Four last March. However, this year will be different as Bridges is no longer the Main Line's best kept secret. Recently tabbed as a first round pick in DraftExpress' 2018 NBA mock draft, Bridges' looks to build on a 2015-2016 campaign that was historically impressive.

Bridges was one of the driving forces behind Villanova's championship run. His defense, courtesy of his 7'0 wingspan, gave opponents fits. In a little over 25 minutes of action in the Elite Eight against the Jayhawks, Bridges tallied five steals in a game that was highlighted by his defensive presence. Playing nearly the entirety of the second half, Bridges also contributed 6 points, most notably a put back tip-in as the game got tight. Bridges added to his tournament highlight reel a week later in Houston when he finished a monster dunk through contact to put the exclamation point on Villanova's dismantling of Oklahoma.

Villanova's starting five is likely to be Brunson, Booth, and the trio of senior captains. If that's the starting five, Bridges is 5(a). Bridges figures to play a role similar to the role Josh Hart played during his sophomore year: a sixth man who will end up seeing starting-five level minutes.

With the loss of Spellman, busted by the NCAA for completing high school, there will be times this year where Villanova will be forced to play small. Bridges will be a vital part of that lineup as his length and athleticism will allow him to float between assignments and cause turnovers. On the offensive side, Bridges posted a blistering 72% from two last year, highlighting just how efficient he has been from the floor. He's quick to the bucket, lethal in transition (as he can traverse the court in about three steps), and has shown the vision and ability to finish through contact.

Best Case Scenario: Is there a better scenario than coming off the bench to lead Villanova to its second consecutive national championship? Well, past performance is the best indicator of future results and there is little to suggest Bridges isn't up for the task. The best case scenario is that Bridges adds a little meat to his bones, rounds out his offensive game, and hones the defensive instincts and precision that come with being an upperclassman. Bridges carries Villanova, with his gadget-arms, back to the promised land where they defeat the Blue Devils for their second straight Natty in a game that, last minute, is held on Georgetown's campus.

Worst Case Scenario: The worst case scenario for a player like Mikal Bridges is that he never realizes his true physical potential. That scenario would find Bridges and his off-the-bench energy continuously committing quick and silly fouls that prevent him from logging meaningful minutes. Bridges averaged 4.4 PF/40 and, while maybe not a major concern yet, his length and quickness can be a curse when not harnessed properly. Frustration and a lack of in-game rhythm cause Bridges to force the action resulting in inefficient nights on the offensive end and erratic nights on the defensive one.

The Wisdom of Crowds Returns

We are pleased to bring back our Wisdom of Crowds experiment for the 2016-2017 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.