COLUMBIA, S.C. – Miles Bridges’ gauge for whether or not he’s done his job after a game is if he’s so drained that he’s got push through mentally and physically just to walk out of the locker room.
So far so good at the Chick-fil-A Classic, Bridges has led No. 18 Huntington Prep (Huntington, W.Va.) to two wins, the second of which came Monday, a 65-64 overtime win over Oldsmar Christian (Jacksonville, Fla.).
The Irish will now play for the Chick-fil-A National Division title on Tuesday night.
Bridges, an American Family Insurance ALL-USA preseason selection, is averaging 18 points, 16 rebounds, three blocks and three steals at the Chick-fil-A Classic.
“I know people say all the time that they want to leave it all out there on the floor, but I mean it; I have to,” said Bridges, a senior wing. “Thomas (Bryant) is at Indiana now so I had to take over the leadership role for the team. The guys look to me to start everything and I embrace it. I have to bring the energy.”
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Bridges took on a similar role with The Family (Mich.) last summer on the AAU circuit, oftentimes playing the whole game and averaging 20.8 points and 8.9 rebounds.
“I feel like that got me even more prepared for this season,” said Bridges, who signed with Michigan State last month. “I knew I would need to be better conditioned so in the preseason after workouts I’d do more running and things like that.”
Huntington Prep coach Arkell Bruce helps Bridges put things into perspective by reminding him that as the No. 8 overall player in the ESPN 100 and a probable McDonald’s All American he’s bound to take the opposition’s best shot.
“It’s the other guy’s Super Bowl going against Miles,” Bruce said. “So it helps not to be boxed in to doing one thing. He’s a jack-of-all-trades and he’s really starting to master that leadership role. He just doesn’t stop coming.”
That style is a win-win for Bridges; perfect training for what he’ll need to bring to the court next year in East Lansing, according to Bridges.
“This is the style I’ll play at Michigan State, just being relentless on both ends of the floor,” Bridges said. “That’s how Coach (Tom) Izzo is, he demands that kind of energy so I’m just getting a head start on next year.”
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