FAIRMONT, W.Va. — Fairmont Senior forward Jalen Bridges will eventually become another Division I basketball signee from the Mountain State, adding his 12th D-I offer this week.
The 6-foot-7 rising senior entered the week with scholarship offers from Canisius, Howard, James Madison, Marshall, Ohio, Old Dominion, Robert Morris, Samford, Tennessee-Martin, Western Carolina and Youngstown State.
Penn State, though, on Tuesday became the first school from a Power Five conference to offer.
“My visit to Penn State was great, they have a beautiful campus,” Bridges said. “It wasn’t just basketball, they have great academics too. That was a big offer. And it makes a lot of other schools who are also showing interest in me to consider making a move, too.”
The Nittany Lions are coming off of an NIT championship season, going 26-13 overall on the year.
Bridges has also received interest of late from San Diego State, Georgetown and Butler, including some contact with WVU.
“I saw people who I felt I had more talent than getting all of these big looks and that inspired me to work harder,” Bridges said, going back to last year. “Now, I’m getting interest from a lot of different schools — it started picking up for me last July.”
Bridges as a junior this past season entered state tournament play averaging 17 points per game and more than two blocked shots per contest. He shot 91 percent from the free throw line.
“College coaches love the way that I can space the floor with my jumper,” Bridges said. “I’ve been working on getting to the hoop a little more and they say that I can guard one through four – they like my versatility, that’s the main thing. They see me as a wing or a combo guard at the next level.”
Bridges was named first team all-state overall this past season in Class AA, also claiming all-tournament honors from the state tournament in Charleston.
In three games at the Civic Center, Bridges scored 55 points and blocked nine shots during tournament play.
“This coming year I’m going to be working on trying to get my teammates involved, while also creating shots for myself and being a better leader,” he said. “As for my recruitment, I’ll most likely make a (college) decision before the season starts.”
Bridges’ father, Cory Bridges, also is a former Fairmont Senior basketball standout who won a title with the Polar Bears back in 1996.
“He just tells me to not rush to a decision, don’t let people talk me into something – it’s my decision, not anyone else’s,” Bridges said. “He’s been with me every step of the way.”
After back-to-back titles in 2015 and 2016, Fairmont Senior went 25-1 this past year with its lone loss coming in the state championship game to Chapmanville.
Senior Taevon Horton after the season announced he would be walking on at WVU, but a strong core still returns for the Polar Bears behind Bridges and point guard Zyon Dobbs, another D-I prospect.
“I think that’s a great move for him,” Bridges said of Horton. “He came such a long way from his sophomore year of high school to where he’s at now, it’s crazy.
“We’ve won a lot of games,” he continued. “But we wouldn’t be as good as we’ve been without some of the guys who don’t always get to play in games as much – those guys off the bench always push us in practice every day.”