Steve Smith on Miles Bridges, Villanova and the ’17 Tourney

For nearly 10 years, Steve Smith‘s been giving his insight on the mic. He started as part of the Hawks broadcast team, where he spent five years of his career. After that he took a job with NBA TV and then he wound up working for TNT. Now Smitty’s entering his third NCAA Tournament in the booth.

Smith spent four years as a Spartan, putting up career numbers of 18 points, 6 rebounds and 4 dimes. As he mentions below, he’s always stayed close to the Michigan State program.

SLAM: What have you seen from the youngin’, Miles Bridges?

Steve Smith: Oh, I mean! First of all, he’s a super kid. Not even talking about basketball.

SLAM: You’ve had a chance to spend some time with him?

SS: Michigan State guys, we interact. We’re different than any other program. We’re a real family. [Miles] is just a super human being. Take away his talent. He’s just smart. He does it the right way. He gets it. Then you start talking about on the court. Sky’s the limit.

You’re talking about a freshman who came in. It was hard. If you’re a senior or a freshman, they had a brutal schedule. They’ve had so many injuries. And he’s still playing at such a high level. Big Ten Freshman of the Year. I think he just made All-Big Ten Second Team.

I just went to the Maryland game. They lost in a heartbreaker, Melo Trimble hit a three. I think he has a chance, in March, to do something special. Athletically, he’s off the charts. But now I think the game is slowing down. You always hear that. The schedule Tom Izzo had them on, Duke, Kansas, Arizona, Baylor—everybody in the country.

SLAM: Coach Izzo’s known for that tough scheduling. Why does he do that?

SS: Why not? I think other programs now are jumping on the bandwagon. He’s made no excuse. Some people say the travel’s too much. He still schedules the same way. His whole thing is, I’ll play anybody, anywhere, any time.

SLAM: If you were playing for him, would you want that challenge?

SS: I want that challenge. The reason you want it as a player is you want to play against the best. The one thing I love about him is he’s not looking at his wins or losses. He’s not saying, Well I could be 32-1. I’m striving to win every game, but if we lose, it gets us better and more prepared.

SLAM: Who are you looking forward to seeing in the Tournament?

SS: The kid that I think has a chance to be real special is Josh Jackson. He’s from Detroit. He had a chance to go to Michigan State. He came to Kansas. I don’t think we’ve seen the best of Josh Jackson.

Lonzo Ball, he’s captured college basketball. Caleb Swanigan, another kid that could have gone to Michigan State. He’s really come on.

Another kid I think people are forgetting is Josh Hart. They won the National Championship. And they lost a couple of players but they pretty much brought 85 percent of their team back.

SLAM: What’s Villanova’s chance of repeating?

SS: Their chance is just as good as anybody else because I don’t see that there’s a dominant team out there. We talk about great guard play, they have that. You talk about experience, then you go coaching. In the NBA I can say it’s more about players. But a lot of [the NCAA] is coaching. You’ve got Jay Wright. Don’t count them out.