Ever heard of Miles Bridges and Frank Jackson? If it doesn’t ring any bell, you’d better write these names down. They will be a topic for conversation for the forseeable future: these two kids are quite good, and Bridges will certainly be in the Nba next season. Jackson is a guard and will play for Duke this season, part of such a stellar recruiting class for the Blue Devils that many great signings went unnoticed. Bridges, on the other hand, will play for Michigan State and coach Tom Izzo.
The Spartan’s freshman seems to be in tournament-form right now. It’s still preseason and teams are playing plenty of meaningless games to get in rhythm. In Michigan State’s first game, he played with such fury that it was impossible to talk about anything else on the following day.
Some argue that Bridges is the best player all time among Tom Izzo recruits, better than Denzel Valentine, Draymond Green, Zach Randolph, Jason Richardson and Mateen Cleaves. He is a 6-6 wing with great body strength who can handle the ball and with good shooting stroke.
Poor Northwood players (a Division II team) lost 93-69 against the Spartans, but when Bridges stepped into the game he made his presence known immediately. He started with a huge block, followed by a three-pointer, followed by a huge defensive play followed by a thunderous dunk. He finished with 33 points, 12-for-14 from the field, 5-for-5 from three-point range, 8 rebounds, 4 blocks and 3 assists. Yes, it is preseason against a Division II team, but it seems every mock draft will soon project him higher than a late first round pick.
As for Duke, coach K.’s team had a friendly against Virginia State, with Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum unavailable, both of them nursing injuries. Giles is, of course, the more serious injury since he had to undergo surgery, Tatum is dealing with a knee sprain and decided to slow down his preparation for the season. He will probably miss the first few weeks of the season as well.
It was not a big deal for Duke anyway, who won 90-59 behind sophomore Luke Kennard, the shooting guard who finished with 30 points and lived at the free throw line, as usual. With the two big names missing, Marques Bolden was under scrutiny. He finished with an impressive double-double (13 points and 11 rebounds). But the one player who truly impressed was 6-3 guard Frank Jackson.
Just to be clear: Jackson is not even close to Miles Bridges. Not yet, at least. The Spartans wing seems to be a college star already. Jackson, though, will have a critical role for the Blue Devils, and showed he has great athleticism and good scoring abilities (4-of-7 from beyond the arc for him). In his prolonged playing time, a consequence of the physical problems bothering Grayson Allen and Matt Jones, who were kept out of the game as a precaution, also showed he needs to take better care of the ball (5 turnovers for him). Yet, coach K. found a guard he can rely on, at least with his second unit.