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    April 23, 2018 1:09 AM EDT
    Editors note: The 2016-17 college basketball season will be the Year of the Freshmen,?featuring what could be the best class weve ever seen. [b]Bobby Jenks Jersey[/b] . Over the next two weeks, we will get familiar with the best of the best, examining who they are and where each of the top 10 prospects in the 2016 ESPN 100 came from.Read more: No. 10 Dukes Frank Jackson | No. 9 Kentuckys Malik Monk No. 8 Michigan States Miles Bridges | No. 7 Washingtons Markelle Fultz No. 6 Kentuckys DeAaron Fox | No. 5 Kentuckys Bam Adebayo No. 4 UCLAs Lonzo Ball | No. 3 Dukes Jayson Tatum No. 2 Kansas Josh Jackson | No. 1 Dukes Harry GilesThe Washington Marriott Wardman Park is a sprawling maze: 195,000 square feet of meeting rooms, breakout rooms, and ballrooms of various sizes designed to, as its web site explains, provide an ideal setting for whatever youre planning, regardless of size or scope.Salon 3, the ballroom into which Miles Bridges has just walked, is laughably surplus to current requirements. In a few hours, in an identical room next door, the setting will be far more ideal. Coaches and players will camp at team-specific conference tables; cameras and microphones will rove between them in packs.It will be hectic, but the scope will make sense -- especially for Bridges.The No. 8-ranked player in the class of 2016 might be Michigan State coach Tom Izzos most talented recruit ever. At minimum, the 6-foot-7 wing is the gem of the Hall of Famers most lauded freshmen class, a group State fans have called, simply enough, The Class. Bridges is the likeliest among them to be in the NBA less than a year from now. His athleticism and 1-through-4 versatility represent the most obvious key to the Spartans 2016-17 season. Given MSUs personnel losses last spring, its practically the start of a new era.Even Bridges presence at the event elicits a noise unto itself: In 21 seasons, hes the first freshman Izzo has ever taken to media day.Then, of course, theres the small matter of Bridges hometown: Flint, Michigan, the same place that birthed Michigan State legends Mateen Cleaves, Morris Peterson and Charlie Bell, better known as the Flintstones.And then theres this:I think Miles Bridges is the next Flintstone, Izzo said. Hes a blue-collar superstar. Which fits me, and our program, perfectly.BACK IN SALON 3, the only noise is the 18-year-olds voice, explaining how he dabbled with the idea of walking away from his own ideal setting -- between coach and recruit, player and team, program and hometown.Its true. For a minute there (or a few months, or maybe a whole year), Bridges was interested in breaking the Flint-Sparty mold.Everybody, literally everybody, from Flint goes to Michigan State, Bridges said. I wanted to switch it up at first. I wanted to be different.There is something to be said for forging ones own path. Or, at the very least, not wearing the same button-down shirt every other dude at the party is wearing. The impulse of Michigan State mens basketball could apply to the entire region: 40 minutes north of Flint on I-75 is Saginaw, Michigan, the other half of what Izzo calls the Flint-Saginaw group, which produced former Spartans stars Jason Richardson and Draymond Green, among others. But Flint, specifically, shares an elevated place in Michigan State basketball lore, and in Izzos heart.Every night when I go to bed and every day when I drive in to work, I realize the cars I drive, the house I live in, the summer Im going to have is probably because of the Flintstones, Izzo said in February.Its a hard act to follow. Its also a hard place to grow up.Few American cities were so thoroughly hollowed out by the prevailing economic and demographic forces -- deindustrialization, globalization, white flight, urban decay -- of the late 20th century. In 1908, General Motors was founded in Flint. In 1978, it employed nearly 80,000 people in the area. In 2010, it employed 8,000. Between 2010 and 2014, when U.S. median household income was $53,482, Flints was $24,679.In 2015, according to U.S. Census data, Flints poverty rate was 40.1 percent. Few cities are more violent per capita. In just the past year, a federal public health state of emergency was declared when lead poisoning -- from a contaminated local water supply -- was discovered among thousands of residents.Or, as Bridges put it: Everybody knows its tough out there.Bridges parents divorced when he was a kid; he felt like the man of the house by 11. He saw fights at schools, drugs sold in plain view, and, among peers, an understood goal: get out.In my generation, not a lot of people do, he said. They become victims to society.By his freshman year of high school, it was clear basketball would be Bridges chance. Before the start of 10th grade, he transferred to powerhouse Huntington Prep in Huntington, West ?Virginia, and, more or less, started over.Izzo and his staff had known Bridges since he was in eighth grade. They had built a strong relationship, gotten used to seeing him around. After the move to West Virginia, though, Bridges kind of disappeared for a while, Izzo said. The Spartans were still chasing him, of course, but his path was no longer so preordained. He looked at Kentucky, Iowa State, Indiana, UConn. He had left home, forced himself to come out of his own shell, matured as a young man and in my game, even interned under a circuit court judge. If he was tempted to make a clean break, to leave Flint behind for good, who could blame him?Then came his official visit to East Lansing.A few months later, on the first day allowed by NCAA rules, Bridges mailed Izzo his letter of intent.I just felt it, Bridges said. I felt like I belonged there.TOM IZZO CAN?be self-critical to a fault.Example No. 1: He is haunted by last seasons first-round loss to Middle Tennessee State. This is understandable. The No. 2-seeded Spartans were a heavy Final Four favorite, led by senior guard Denzel Valentine, before they gave up 90 points on 68 possessions to Conference USAs seventh-best offense. That one stings. Fair enough.Less fair, perhaps: Izzo blames himself for not calling a timeout until Middle Tennessee had opened its early 15-2 lead. (Nobody else, I made the mistake, Izzo said last month. This year, if we get down 12-0, there will be a timeout called. And I mean that sincerely.) In reality, theres no one to blame for Middle Tennessees 40-minute, out-of-body experience. Basketball can be weird.Example No. 2: It took Izzo until this summer?-- after 19 straight tournament appearances, seven Final Fours and induction into the Hall of Fame -- to admit his program had built a culture.Early on, after we won the national championship, everybody was ready to canonize us, Izzo said. I thought, come back in 10, 12 years. Weve had some really good teams, but we had a couple of years where in my mind we were good but the culture wasnt the same.Its different now. Last season, Valentine and Matt Costello led one of the tightest-knit, hardest-working teams of their coachs career. Those good vibes have become self-sustaining. Seniors and juniors carry them forward. The Spartans are already equating this teams chemistry to last seasons, remarkable given the turnover in personnel. Meanwhile, it has become a bona fide recruiting advantage: Prospects want playing time and a chance to go pro, sure, but some are just as interested in being part of a family.When Bridges took his official visit, he stayed with senior guard Tum Tum Nairn, the teams universally beloved Bahamian, a born leader, one of Izzos favorite people in the world. What could have been a casual arms-length weekend was, instead, a two-day crash course in bonding.I believe its one of my gifts to understand people just from a conversation, Nairn said. I care about people. Thats just who I am. I show them love. So when guys come to visit, I can get a good feel for them, even in two days. You cant hide who you really are. And Miles was just himself -- just a regular kid who has great power and weight behind his name, but is so humble in spirit. It was easy to see.Bridges and Nairn immediately hit it off. As did Bridges, Joshua Langford and the rest of the freshman class.?Veteran?Eron Harris?described the star-studded newcomers as his brothers for life. Brotherhood and family are frequent terms; open expressions of love are the norm.In Bridges, Izzo saw a player whose ethos aligned perfectly with his own. The kid required none of the frills during his recruitment, didnt need heavy flattery or constant attention. Izzo has been even more impressed since Bridges arrived. Prospects of his caliber sometimes come in and think they know everything, Izzo said. Bridges, instead, is a sponge, a player with massive gifts and minimal ego -- a regular superstar.For reasons that go far beyond basketball, its a perfect fit.I guess I am willing to say it now, Izzo said. You know what? Weve built a culture.IF CULTURE YIELDS an advantage on the floor -- and what coach would argue otherwise -- the Spartans will need to draw on it immediately.Michigan States November schedule is almost masochistic. The Spartans open in Hawaii at the Armed Forces Classic against a top-15 Arizona team. Four days later, they fly to New York, where theyll meet No. 2 Kentucky in the Champions Classic. On Nov. 23, they begin the Battle 4 Atlantis, a field that includes Louisville, Baylor, Wichita State and VCU. And four days after that, theyre in Durham, North Carolina, for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge against loaded preseason title favorite Duke.If that wasnt brutal enough (and it was), MSU will likely take it on without Gavin Schilling and transfer big Ben Carter, both of whom suffered injuries this fall. Of last years significant contributors, only Harris returns, and with a much heavier load on his shoulders.To say Bridges, Langford, Cassius Winston and Nick Ward will be thrown in the deep end is like saying the Iron Islands crown kings with a gentle dip in the surf.To rise harder and stronger, Bridges will have to unleash his talents from the jump. The Spartans staff has a history of maximizing versatile wings with skills and size, and few have arrived in East Lansing with this combination thereof. The 6-foot-7 lefty has the chops to comfortably play the 2, 3 and 4 in States half-court sets. His coach will constantly probe the floor for mismatches he can exploit, and there will be plenty.On defense, Bridges has the size and speed to switch screens and credibly guard all five spots. Izzos teams are renowned for their rebounding, but less so for what those defensive rebounds often produce: attacking secondary breaks. (Everybody tries to make it into this plowhorse thing, that if youre a good rebounding team, youre this big, physical brute, Izzo said. Weve never been BIG big. We rebound ... and then we run.) Which should, in theory, allow Bridges to do stuff like this:Its an exciting prospect, to say the least. Bridges exhibition debut in late October -- 33 points (12-of-14), eight rebounds, four blocks and three assists -- did little to dampen the noise.Still, from the schedule to key injuries to plain old inexperience, plenty of trials lay ahead. And the bar -- next Flintstone -- is already high.AS A SENIOR IN HIGH SCHOOL, even all the way out in Huntington, Bridges organized a collection for water access in his hometown. He feels a responsibility to help the people of Flint in any way he can after the water disaster. People will thank him on Twitter for lending a prominent voice to their anger.I can use that platform, Bridges said. I want to change my city.Said Izzo: The toughness and resiliency of that city, the way people keep getting knocked down and keep bouncing back up, it becomes a part of you.It has become an inextricable part of Izzos program. Bridges could have avoided all of it. He could have shrugged off the power and weight behind his name. He could have been just another talented future NBA draft pick at another elite basketball program. He could have let basketball take him far away from Flint -- out. He could have looked at the pressures inherent in legacy and opted for a different, quieter path.Instead, his ideal setting was right there all along.Because at the end of the day, I couldnt run from it, Bridges said. I knew where I belonged. [b]White Sox Jerseys Outlet[/b] . Rob Manfred, baseballs chief operating officer, testified last week during the grievance filed by the players union to overturn Rodriguezs 211-game suspension. A person familiar with the hearing, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press on Saturday that Manfred testified the sport wasnt concerned whether Bosch distributed performance-enhancing drugs to minors because MLBs interest was his relationship with players under investigation. [b]Michael Jordan Jersey[/b] . For the Wild it was their first win of the season and they now have a record of 1-1-2 while the Jets fall to 2-2. Jets start a six game home stand Friday with another divisional game, home to the Dallas Stars. [b][/b] . 10 Texas A&Ms offence dominated as usual against SMU.TORONTO -- A recent NHL rule change designed to cut down on the number of concussions in the league hasnt made a difference, a new study suggests. The research suggests the rule, which outlawed bodychecks aimed at the head and checking from a players blind side, has not led to lower concussion rates among pro hockey players since it came into force in the 2010-11 season. The senior author of the work said the league should take another crack at the rule change, noting that as it stands the wording is too subjective and gives referees leeway not to enforce it. "If player safety is the prime priority of the NHL in bringing this kind of rule in ... then they need to relook at this in a very serious way and adjust things," said Dr. Michael Cusimano, a neurosurgeon who heads the injury prevention research unit at Torontos St. Michaels Hospital. "If it isnt a priority, I could see them just leaving things the way they are and its kind of a Band-Aid response to a major problem." The NHL did not respond Wednesday to a request for comment on the article. And the NHL Players Association declined to comment because it hadnt had a chance to review the study. But another concussion expert applauded the work, saying Cusimano and his team had performed a service by exploring the impact of the rule change. Dr. Charles Tator, a brain surgeon with Toronto Western Hospital, said the changes lack of impact has an effect not just in the arenas of the National Hockey League, but on rinks where kids who dream of making it to the NHL some day emulate their professional heroes. "Professional hockey is still a bad influence on the amateurs," said Tator, who is project leader for the Canadian Sports Concussion Project at the Krembil Neuroscience Centre. The study was published Wednesday in the journal PLoS One. Cusimano and colleagues painstakingly put together data on reports of concussions and suspected concussions -- based on reports of symptoms -- from a variety of sources. Some of the information came from teams, others from media reports. The information was gathered for both the NHL and the Ontario Hockey League, which has stricter rules on checks to the head than the NHL does. The OHL rule penalizes any hit to the head of another player, intentional or unintentional. The data showed that there was no statistical significance in the incidence of concussions in the NHL in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons compared to the 2009-10 season. That latter was the year before the NHL rule change went into effect. The researchers estimated there were about 5.233 concussions per 100 games in the NHL regular season. [b]Authentic White Sox Jerseys[/b]. Despite its stiffer rule, the OHL didnt have markedly different concussion rates, clocking 5.05 per 100 games in the regular season. The analysis also showed that the type of hits outlawed by the NHL rule werent actually the major cause of concussions. About 28 per cent of interactions produced a concussion also generated a penalty call, said Cusimano. In that 28 per cent, the bulk of the penalties were for fighting. "And blindsiding, which was what the rule was initially was written about, was only 4.1 per cent of all those.... But four per cent of 28 per cent is a very small number." "I wasnt totally surprised, but I was disappointed that we werent able to show a difference," Cusimano said. "Part of its the way the rules written. Part of its the way the rule is enforced. Part of its the penalties associated with the rule. And part of it is that concussions are also coming from other causes like fighting, that is still allowed." The way the NHL rule is worded gives referees outs to avoid levying penalties for some of the hits, for instance in cases where players are deemed to have put themselves in a vulnerable position. "So its like his fault, because he put himself into a vulnerable position. And this highlights one of the major problems in sport and particularly in hockey these days. We victimize the victim even more, rather than looking at the game and the system and saying: What can we do to reduce these injuries?" Cusimano said. He suggested that if the league wants to get serious about protecting players, it has to raise the cost of concussion-inducing hits, both on the player who inflicts the injury, and on the team which sent him out to do it. If the player who sidelined Pittsburgh Penguin captain Sidney Crosby for a year was forced to spend as much time off the ice for the injury, the culture of teams might start to change, Cusimano suggested. "If there were more severe consequences to those who inflict that kind of injury -- lets say that player was out for an equal amount of time as Crosby -- that might have more impact," he said. Tator estimated that hockey has moved only about 10 per cent of the way down the path it would need to take to make the game safe for amateurs and professionals. "In terms of injury prevention, it isnt enough to enact regulations," he said. "The other half of the coin is enforcement. And if you really arent strictly enforcing a rule, the rule is going to be ineffective." 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