Brian Bridgewater focused on basketball

Scotlandville’s Bridgewater opts for basketball over football

Scotlandville High’s Brian Bridgewater is one of the Baton Rouge area’s top senior athletes. But the 6-foot-5, 240-pound Bridgewater has been an enigma for recruiters.

While he has not completely closed the door on the option of playing college football, Bridgewater said he expects to sign a basketball scholarship later in the spring instead of signing to play football next month.

When asked if he expected to sign a basketball scholarship, Bridgewater offered a one-word response, “Yes.”

“I’m definitely focused on basketball,” Bridgewater added. “I got hurt this year in football, and some of the schools backed off of me a little bit.

“I have some schools that have told me I can still come there for football, but I’m concentrating on basketball. It has been a whole lot of fun to play with the guys here.”

The past six to eight months have been a whirlwind for Bridegwater. He was rated as one of the nation’s top tight end prospects despite playing one year of football at Class 2A Episcopal. He also was rated as high as a top 50 basketball prospect.

In August, Bridgewater transferred to 5A Scotlandville. Once he was ruled eligible by the Louisiana High School Athletic Association, the younger brother of ex-LSU basketball player Brad Bridgewater suited up for just one football game.

Bridgewater caught three passes for 50 yards in a Week 4 win over Northeast, but wound up with a strained medial collaterial ligament. He spent the remainder of the football season rehabbing the knee.

“To me, I think I got out there too soon. After I was ruled eligible I practiced for a day, did well and then it was game day,” Bridgewater said. “My body wasn’t in football shape. I rushed it.”

Bridgewater then got caught up in a different kind of rush when he joined the defending Class 5A state champion Hornets for basketball practice. Scotlandville’s up-tempo style and a chance to play in a lineup that also includes 6-8 Vanderbilt signee Damien Jones and 6-7 Jared Sam, along with 6-1 point guard Tre’Lun Banks brought some changes.

Bridgewater leads SHS in scoring with a 14.0 average and also averages 8.5 rebounds per game.

“I feel like I’m 100 percent now,” Bridgewater said. “At the start of the season, the knee still wasn’t quite right. I’m in good shape now. I’ve lost some weight because we run so much.”

Bridgewater said he has talked with Alabama football assistant coach Burton Burns a couple of times, but that for the most part football recruiters have dropped off. The list of schools expressing interest in Bridgewater and his basketball skills has fluctuated. Purdue and Wichita State are recent additions. LSU, Louisiana Tech and South Alabama are among the stalwarts who have recruited Bridgewater all along.

“I went to the game when they (LSU) played against Florida last Saturday,” Bridgewater said. “It wasn’t a good outcome, but I like what he (LSU coach Johnny Jones) is doing.”

Scotlandville High basketball coach Carlos Sample said he sees growth and consistency in Bridgewater’s game.

“I think he’s settled in now,” Sample said. “There was a period of adjustment for him to learn our system and learn his role.

“He understands that he doesn’t have to carry the team. I can see his court awareness improve. He’s working on his other skills, too.”