Jalen Bridges is a part of our Heartland College Sports Big 12 men’s Top 25 returning players countdown as we get closer to the 2021-22 college basketball season opener.
No. 17: Jalen Bridges, F, West Virginia
Where he left off: It wasn’t until Oscar Tshiebwe decided to transfer from West Virginia that Bridges had the chance to discover his true role in West Virginia’s offense. His season averages (5.9 points and 3.6 rebounds per game) underscore that late start. Once he got his legs under him as a starter, Bridges started to produce consistently.
He shot 49.6 percent from the field and 40.9 percent from 3-point range. He scored in double figures in six games and had 15 points and five rebounds against Morehead State (which was head coach Bob Huggins’ 900th career win). Bridges had his first career double-double with a career-high 22 points and 12 rebounds vs. TCU. By season’s end he earned All-Big 12 Freshman Team honors and had entrenched himself as a forward to watch in the Big 12.
Where he’s headed: Bridges is entering his third season of college basketball. He knows his role and he knows that he’s likely to be a starter for the Mountaineers. He has forward size and guard ability, and his shooting percentage from the 3-point line, stretched over an entire season, bodes well for a Mountaineers team that needs to replace the lost offense of Miles McBride and Derek Culver. Bridges has the ability to be that option, and he showed that off last season. The Mountaineers likely want Bridges to take a step forward defensively, as he’ll likely defend every opponent’s top swingman this season. A rebounding average closer to five per game would be an asset, too.
Top 25 criteria: ONLY players that played in the Big 12 last season were considered. Rankings are based on where players left off at the end of last season, as we are not able to make assumptions about the improvements players have made this offseason.
Big 12 Basketball Preview
Top 25 Returning Players: No. 25 Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua| No. 24 Christian Braun | No. 23 Rondel Walker | No. 22 Umoja Gibson | No. 21 Matthew Alexander-Moncrieffe | No. 20 Nijel Pack | No. 19: Marcus Santos-Silva
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.
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