MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – (October 30, 2020) – Most Division I college basketball players aren’t too fond of the idea of redshirting, but WVU forward Jalen Bridges thought the idea was the best for him.
With support from his family and Coach Huggins, Jalen Bridges decided to sit out last season and redshirt to improve his game.
“I just felt like mentally I wasn’t ready to just make that big jump to the college game, so I just decided to redshirt, and my dad was on board with that, coach Huggins was on board with that,” Bridges said. “I just felt like it was a great opportunity for me to get stronger and just learn how to play at the pace of this level.”
This decision came upon after a crazy weekend of getting recruited for Bridges. He committed to West Virginia University when he was supposed to go prep school on that following Tuesday. Instead on that Tuesday the state-born forward enrolled at WVU.
Bridges was considering Alabama, Indiana, Miami (FL), and Xavier when he visited Morgantown and loved his visit so much that he committed days after his trip.
“I just felt so comfortable with the visit with Huggs with the players that I felt like I didn’t need to waste my time on any other visits,” Bridges explained.
It isn’t common for a player like Jalen Bridges to redshirt for how talented he was coming out of high school. The Fairmont Senior High School star was top-100 in his class, top-20 at his position, and the highest-ranked player in the state of West Virginia.
The 6’7” player could do it all averaging 21.6 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.2 blocks, and 1.9 steals per game in high school. Bridges shot 62.1 percent from the field while shooting over 50 percent from three.
When you’re redshirting, it can be an odd situation when you’re practicing and warming up, but you know you can’t play.
“My dad would tell me to just go out like you’re about to play, just work on your game because it’s just basically time for me to just really go have fun,” Bridges said. “Like I might as well get something out of it.”
Bridges, along with walk-on sensation Spencer Macke, would get to the games early and work on their jump shots, ball handling, and shots off the dribble.
After the season ended abruptly, Bridges worked out over the long summer fixing his shot form. Even shooting at a high percentage with his shot, Jalen along with his dad made his release quicker.
Now finally being able to suit up for the Mountaineers, Jalen Bridges explains what his role will be with the team as he continues to develop.
“I’m looking for getting the chance to step on the floor and be a shooter, be a defender, and just provide any type of spark that I can for our team,” Bridges comments. “I just want to be a contributor no matter starting, sixth man, bench, whatever it may be. I just want to play.”
The Fairmont native understands and can relate to all West Virginia fans when it comes to how prideful it is to be a Mountaineer here in the state.
“Here we really don’t have that much; we obviously don’t have any professional team so WVU really is our state’s professional team. Every single kid in the state looks up to us as their sports team like they all idolize us and being an in-state kid like I really understand that,” Bridges said.
“It’s really an honor to be able to put on for where I’m from and wear that name across my jersey,” Bridges added.
Jalen Bridges will look to start out his playing career with the Mountaineers when they take on the Texas A&M Aggies on Nov. 25 in the first round of the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic.