Michigan State’s sophomore class was outstanding in 2017-18. Miles Bridges, Nick Ward, Cassius Winston and Joshua Langford were the teams top four scorers and one of the main reasons the Spartans won an outright Big Ten Title. Here are the grades for MSU’s sophomore class.
Cassius Winston: A-
Winston was very good this season, averaging 12.6 points and 6.9 assists per game. Many expected Bridges to be the closer for MSU, but it was Winston that the Spartans trusted in the big moments. During the PK80 Tournament, Winston was unstoppable down the stretch against UCONN and played a big role in MSU’s comeback win over Northwestern late in the year. He still commits too many silly turnovers, which is why he didn’t receive an A or A+. However, his scoring and passing ability from the point guard position are a huge asset for the Spartans heading into next season. He still needs to improve defensively, but he should have a tremendous junior season.
Miles Bridges: B
To just about everyone, this season will be considered a failure for Bridges. He came back to win a National Championship and the Spartans couldn’t even get out of the first weekend. Despite the lack of team success, Bridges did have a solid season for MSU. He finished the 2017-18 season averaging 17.1 points, 7 rebounds and 2.7 assists. The reason behind Bridges getting a B has to do with the lack of team success and his inability to find that extra gear. Too many times during the season Bridges settled for contested jumpers instead of using his big frame to back down smaller defenders. He is a good shooter, but he’s way too athletic to be settling for outside shots. He has already declared for the draft and won’t return to MSU for his junior season.
Nick Ward: B-
Ward had a great start to the season and led the Spartans to No. 1 overall in the rankings. He was making just about every shot he took and rebounding the ball very well. Then Ohio State doubled him in the post and showed other teams what they needed to do to slow him down. After that game, Ward was never really the same player. He had his good and bad games, but inconsistent is how I would categorize the second half of his season. Ward and Izzo never seemed to be on the same page, and, at times, Ward was visibly frustrated on the bench. He is one of the better post players in the Big Ten and would likely be the Spartans’ No. 1 option next season. He is going to test the NBA draft waters, but will not sign an agent, meaning he can return to MSU. If he does return, developing a 10-15 foot jump shot would be huge for him.
Joshua Langford: C
Like Ward, Langford struggled throughout the second half of the season. Langford’s struggles were more noticeable than Ward’s due to the fact that MSU was very thin at guard, meaning he had to play about 30 minutes per game. He looked primed for a big year during the non-conference part of the schedule. He scored 23 points against North Carolina and 17 against Notre Dame and Oakland. Langford was getting good looks and knocking them down at a high percentage. That changed during Big Ten Play, as Langford struggled to get anything going. He finished his sophomore season averaging 11.7 points and 3 rebounds per game. He did improve defensively, which is a plus heading into his junior season. However, he needs to look for better shots and focus on getting his teammates involved more. He is a breakout candidate for the 2018-19 season.