Great Valley Patriot Mikal Bridges

Great Valley's Mikal Bridges

By Jeremy Treatman

Liberty City Press Sports Editor

Hoops star Mikal Bridges never listened when people advised him to leave his neighborhood public school, Great Valley PA, before his sophomore, junior, and current senior season. Afterall, the school has virtually no history of basketball success when it comes to the PIAA AAAA state playoffs. Schools like Chester, Coatesville, Lower Merion, Plymouth Whitemarsh, and Penn Wood have dominated that scene locally. In fact, the 6-foot, 7-inch 200-pound multi-talented guard/forward was told by many that his development would be stifled if he did not compete elsewhere. Boy, were the pundits wrong.

"There was never a reason to leave Great Valley," said Bridges, a Villanova recruit, who led his team to a 28-4 mark, a PIAA District 1 Final Four and PIAA AAAA quarterfinal finish in 2013, the most wins in school history. Arguably, this could be the school’s beat team ever.

“It’s been a great experience,” he added. “My coach (Jim Nolan) taught me how to play defense, play unselfishly, move without the ball, and how to screen. I like the fact that I could play any of the five positions in any game. We went 28-4 last year, and I think we can do better this season.”

Last season, Bridges averaged 20 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals for the Patriots. Amazingly, he was not named to any of the state’s all-star first, second, or third-teams. That was probably a result of playing at the lightly-regarded basketball school. Many experts who were not involved in the voting in the Philadelphia region were laughing about his omission. It was one of the more glaring oversights in recent years. “It’s Ok, he said. “It didn’t affect me.”

“He had 28 points in about 21 minutes of a game against Penn Wood last year, always a top PIAA team,” said Nolan. “I guess no one saw that game. Mikal has come such a long way. He is a hard worker and loves the game. Now, he has the physical tools to go with it. He’s strong and multi-dimensional.”

Bridges said he realized he could play at Villanova after competing for the Team Final AAU program the past few summers. Plus, he loved playing on the big stage against Lower Merion. Chester and Coatesville on the big stage last season.

“It’s been a great experience all around,” Bridges said. “I compete against the best players in the country for Team Final and I really saw how hard you have to compete against the Chesters and Lower Merions. Those teams are great. But I realized that I could play well against the best teams. That was eye-opening for me.”

He feels Villanova was the perfect fit, too. "I loved everything about it," he said. "It's basically my dream school."


photo credit to DLN Sports