Villanova's Mikal Bridges passing up final season to enter NBA draft

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Mikal Bridges (25) is turning pro.

Redshirt junior Mikal Bridges of Villanova formally announced Tuesday morning that he will pass up his final year of eligibility and enter the NBA draft.

The disclosure by Bridges on ESPN was expected since the 6-foot-7 forward from Malvern and Great Valley High School is expected to be a lottery pick in the June draft. Most mock drafts have him around the 10th pick in the first round.

Bridges, who sat out his first year at Villanova, has been attracting the attention of NBA scouts for the past two years with an ability to hit three-point shots, drive to the basket, rebound, and defend the opponent’s top scorer. He also has been a part of two national-championship teams in his three seasons competing for the Wildcats.

“I bring winning to your team,” Bridges said in an ESPN interview. “I learned about that at Villanova what is a winning championship atmosphere and what you’ve got to do to achieve it. You have to always be locked in. Two championships in three years – not a lot of people have done that.”

Bridges won this year’s Julius Erving Award as the nation’s top small forward, and was named a third-team all-American by the Associated Press. He also was a first-team all-Big East selection and named the outstanding player of the Big East tournament.

For the season, he averaged 17.7 points and 5.3 rebounds in starting all 40 games and shot 43.5 percent from three-point range and 85.1 percent on free throws. He led the team with 104 three-pointers made.

“Mikal has been an exemplary student-athlete during his four years with us at Villanova,” Wildcats coach Jay Wright said in a statement. “His work ethic and willingness to accept coaching have helped him grow steadily in his time here. He’s a great teammate and leader. I’m confident he will enjoy a very successful professional career.”

Bridges is on schedule to graduate next month.