Michigan State star Miles Bridges declares for NBA draft

Michigan State guard Miles Bridges plays against Bucknell during the second half of an NCAA men’s college basketball tournament first-round game in Detroit, Friday, March 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

It’s a year later than most expected, but Miles Bridges is heading to the NBA.

The standout Michigan State forward, a projected lottery pick, announced Wednesday morning that he will forgo his last two seasons of eligibility and enter the NBA draft. Bridges has agreed to sign with Klutch Sports, the agency that represents LeBron James and many other NBA stars.

“God couldn’t have placed me in a better place for these last two years. I wanna thank Coach Izzo and the rest of the coaching staff for giving a skinny kid from Flint a chance to play at such a legendary program,” Bridges wrote in a message posted on Twitter. “I would like to thank the academic support for helping me out every day. I also want to thank Spartan Nation for welcoming me with open arms into their community and school. And last but not least, I would like to thank my teammates for the bond and memories that we will share for a lifetime. I will be a Spartan for life no matter what!”

“Miles wanted to come back to school this year because he loved Michigan State, he loved his teammates and friends and he loved being part of this community,” MSU head coach Tom Izzo said. “I think I speak for all of Spartan Nation in thanking him for how he represented us and for all of the great things he helped us achieve. He’s given us everything we could ask for and so much more.

“Miles is a mature young man who has excelled on the court and has been an exemplary student. I think he’s ready to handle being a pro basketball player both on and off the court. More than anything, he conducted himself with the utmost class and humility. As his coach, it’s a thrill for me to see him getting the chance to live his dream and I look forward to following his career in the NBA.”

The high-flying Bridges lived up to his billing as a five-star recruit during his two seasons in East Lansing. He averaged 16.9 points and 8.3 rebounds while shooting 48.6 percent from the field as a true freshman, leading most to assume he would become a one-and-done prospect. But after the team fell in the Round of 32 of the NCAA tournament, he decided to return for his sophomore season with his eyes on a national title.

This year, Bridges put up big numbers again — 17.1 points and 7.0 rebounds per contest — to help lead MSU to the Big Ten regular season title. However, the Spartans fell in the Round of 32 once again, this time a disappointing 55-53 loss to No. 11 seed Syracuse. Bridges scored 11 points in the loss, connecting on just four of his 18 field goal attempts as MSU shot 25.8 percent from the field as a team.

The 6-foot-7 Bridges is expected to be joined in the NBA draft lottery with teammate Jaren Jackson. Jackson, a 6-foot-10 big man, averaged 10.9 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game as a true freshman. He was the Big Ten’s freshman and defensive player of the year.

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Sam Cooper is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

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