2018 NBA Draft: Villanova's Mikal Bridges, a possible lottery pick, is leaving school early for the draft

One week after playing an instrumental role in Villanova's 2018 NCAA Tournament run that concluded with a championship victory over Michigan, Wildcats star Mikal Bridges has opted to forego his final year of college eligibility and enter the 2018 NBA Draft

Bridges, a two-time national champion at Villanova, is projected as a lottery pick who, on paper, will fit seamlessly in the modern NBA. With his ability to his 3-pointers at an elite clip (43.5 percent last season) and lock down team's best defenders, he's a potential plug-and-play two-way player at the next level who stands at a stout 6-foot-7 with a 7-foot-2 wingspan.

"I bring winning to your team," Bridges, a two-time NCAA champion at Villanova, told ESPN. "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."

Although Bridges development spanned several years, the redshirt junior has budded from a project piece into a legitimate collegiate star with accolades to boot. He was named an All-American in 2017-18 after averaging 17.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, and earned honors as the Big East Conference Tournament's Most Valuable Player on a team that is flush with pro potential at nearly every position. 

CBS Sports' Gary Parrish has Bridges going No. 10 overall to the Philadelphia 76ers, where he believes he could be an immediate contributor for a playoff team.

I'm not sure anybody, outside of Trae Young, has helped himself more this season with NBA people than Bridges -- who is averaging 17.7 points and 5.3 rebounds while shooting a career-best (and impressive) 42.0 percent from 3-point range in 32.5 minutes per game for a Villanova team that finished the regular season 27-4. More than anything, the 6-7 wing is making "pro shots" more regularly than ever and doing most of the things any NBA team would want him to do at the next level. His ability to guard multiple positions makes him somebody who could theoretically contribute to a playoff team on Opening Night.  

Bridges is expected to complete his degree in May. While his departure certainly makes Villanova's 2018 outlook a smidge more grim, the Wildcats, a top-5 team in the CBS Sports Top 25 (and one) for 2018, appear to be in good hands with NCAA Tournament MOP Donte DiVincenzo likely returning as a feature star next season. 

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