, ranked as the 11th best prospect among the high school senior (2016) class by Scout.com, has elected to stay home rather than make his very first appearance at a USA Basketball event. Bridges will instead make his college announcement in front of family and local media in Flint, where he is widely expected to announce his commitment to hometown Michigan State. Many here question whether Bridges could have held his announcement ceremony either in Colorado Springs in front of the horde of national media, or on any other given date other than this one, especially since he is likely to cost himself an invite to both the Nike Hoop Summit and USA Basketball's U18 roster. Bridges' family did not respond to a text message requesting comment.
Another player who declined his invite is Marvin Bagley
, who is considered by many to be the #1 player in the class of 2018 (sophomores), even though age-wise, he should be in the junior (2017) class. High school junior Charles O'Bannon also informed USA Basketball very early on that he's unable to attend.
High school senior point guard Kobi Simmons
and sophomore big man Nazreon Reid
are two other players who elected not to attend the camp for undisclosed reasons.
Reid's high school coach Dave Boff of Roselle Catholic, in response to inquiries about his player's withdrawal, had the following to say: Nazi was very excited for the opportunity to go to USA Basketball. This coming week he has a few tests and a project due Monday. He made the decision to put his academics first. He's disappointed, but I'm proud of him for prioritizing his academics. He looks forward to going back to USA this spring."
Attempts to reach Simmons for comment were unsuccessful.
Speaking broadly on the topic of players who decline invites to various training and mini-camps, USA Basketball National Team Director Sean Ford did not appear overly concerned about any given absence.
Unfortunately, kids have a lot of different commitments and things to focus on. From our standpoint, we don't spend much time figuring out why guys aren't here. If someone says he's not coming, you're never changing his mind in our experience. Maybe he is focused on recruiting, a school conflict, or his support group feels this is not the right place for him to be. Because of the deep player pool in the US, we are lucky that it's not something we have to spend time worrying about too much at this time.