Fairmont’s Jalen Bridges foregoes prep school, enrolls at West Virginia

MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — In filling up his scholarship quota for this season, Bob Huggins needed only to look 20 miles south of Morgantown.

The West Virginia men’s basketball coach announced Tuesday that former Fairmont Senior standout Jalen Bridges has been enrolled and officially placed on the roster.

Bridges announced through Twitter on Monday that he had committed to the Mountaineers.

“It’s a really great opportunity,” Bridges told WVMetroNews.com. “It’s a great decision for me and my family and I’m playing for the whole state now.”

Bridges was the state’s 2019 Bill Evans Award winner as a senior as the top boys’ basketball player, after averaging 21.6 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.

The Polar Bears advanced to the Class AA state title game four years in a row with Bridges and won the championship in 2016 and 2017.

“Obviously, we are very excited about Jalen joining the Mountaineer basketball program,” Huggins said. “It’s great to have West Virginians who take such pride in representing our great state.”

The Mountaineers are at the NCAA limit of 13 scholarship players and Bridges will join Logan Routt (Cameron), Chase Harler (Moundsville) and Brandon Knapper (South Charleston) as in-state products.

At 6-foot-7 and 180 pounds, Bridges had previously looked to enroll at a prep school in Pennsylvania to help him further develop and get stronger. That would have made him eligible for the 2020 recruiting class.

Those plans changed after a scholarship came open last month, when junior-college forward Ethan Richardson was unable to enroll at WVU.

Bridges took an official visit last weekend to WVU and decided to reclassify for the 2019 recruiting class.

He had been ranked a 4-star prospect and No. 72 overall in the class of 2020 by ESPN.

Bridges is also ranked as a 4-star prospect by both Rivals and 247 Sports.

“Jalen brings great size to our perimeter game with a very accomplished skill level,” Huggins added. “He will certainly join our other perimeter guys in their ability to stretch the defenses.”

It is unclear if the Mountaineers will look to redshirt Bridges or play him this season.

WVU is currently awaiting word from the NCAA on whether Arkansas transfer Gabe Osabuohien will receiver a waiver and be eligible to play immediately this season.

WVU’s 2019 recruiting class also includes 5-star freshman Oscar Tshiebwe, as well as freshman guard Deuce McBride and junior-college players Taz Sherman and Sean McNeil.

The Mountaineers also have ESPN top 100 recruit Isaiah Cottrell committed for their 2020 recruiting class and 3-star prep forward Taj Thweatt (6-7, 195) from Wildwood (N.J.) Catholic tweeted he had verbally committed to the Mountaineers on Tuesday. Thweatt averaged 20.2 points and 10.7 rebounds as a high school junior.

“I really feel like the coaches at West Virginia know what they’re doing,” Bridges said. “I’m not going to say they’ll make me a pro, but they’ll show me what I need to do to be a pro. It’s up to me to do the rest and I feel like I can do that.”

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