Marvin Bagley changes everything for the school he picks -- and college hoops, too
Who will the Arizona prep star choose, and will we see him on the floor this season?
Marvin Bagley is such a rare talent that there is a reasonable argument to be made that he's the most NBA-ready high school prospect since LeBron James. From wire to wire, essentially, Bagley has been considered the No. 1 player in his class which, as of this moment, is still technically 2018.
The 6-foot-10 power wing prototype is already a physically matured basketball force, a player gifted to the point that many NBA talent evaluators believe he would have been the No. 1 in the most recent NBA Draft, cruising by the likes of Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, Jayson Tatum and Josh Jackson. That 2017 crop was considered one of the strongest freshman groups, if not the strongest, ever.
Bagley, in the eyes of plenty, is streets ahead of all of them and doesn't have a college game to his name yet.
That could change soon. Bagley, 18, is attempting to reclassify (the NCAA must approve this; we have more on his eligibility avenue below) and will Duke, USC and, most recently, UCLA. Arizona, which has aggressively recruited Bagley the longest, did not get an official visit (Bagley is from the Phoenix area). One of those four schools will land him. His talent is so dominant, he "fits" on any roster. But here's how he could change each of these teams if he's to commit -- and get eligible.. He has taken three official visits in the past month:
Arizona Wildcats. Now considered a dark horse, in part because Bagley bailed on a planned official visit. The Wildcats have no open scholarships, but that would hardly restrain this process. (The same thing can be said for any of the schools below that are currently maxed on scholarships for 2017-18.)
The Wildcats currently sit atop our rankings, a strong No. 1 team heading into the season. They already have one player on the roster in contention for the top pick in the 2018 draft, DeAndre Ayton, and feature a guard in Allonzo Trier who could be a first-team All-American. If Bagley were to select Arizona, the Wildcats would turn into one of the most overwhelming favorites heading into the season in the past 25 years.
Duke Blue Devils. The favorite. As of Sunday night, the 247 Sports Crystal Ball projection had the Blue Devils at 88 percent. Bagley's reclassification situation has received a lot of publicity due to Duke being labeled the favorites, with the idea that if Duke is recruiting Bagley to reclassify, then the staff has a certain amount of confidence that 2017-18 is on the table. Duke's only player coming back who logged significant minutes last season? Grayson Allen. The rest of this team is very young, one of the youngest Mike Krzyzewski has ever coached.
Bagley would fit right in with freshman center Wendell Carter, freshman guards Trevon Duval and Gary Trent Jr., plus sophomore Marques Bolden. The Blue Devils were the preseason No. 1 team last season and would have another really good case with Bagley, whose talent eclipses anyone on Duke's roster currently.
UCLA Bruins. UCLA was Bagley's final official visit. The Bruins, like every team listed here, are ranked in. But they're in the lowest spot, at 20. Steve Alford is no doubt pushing very hard the idea that he got Lonzo Ball to be a top-two pick, and now Bagley can be the guy to go No. 1 -- the first UCLA player to do so since another massive recruit, Bill Walton.
UCLA has good returning pieces from a Sweet 16 team, but Bagley joining the roster would put the Bruins in top-10 territory and give them a chance at punching with Arizona and USC for the Pac-12 title. The Bruins bring back Aaron Holiday, Thomas Welsh, Prince Ali and get a nice freshman duo in point guard Jaylen Hands and wing Kris Wilkes. Bagley and the 7-foot Welsh playing together would be really intriguing and really imposing.
USC Trojans. What's so interesting about USC is how loaded the Trojans already are. If Bagley were to join a frontline of Bennie Boatwright and Chimezie Metu, Andy Enfield would boast the best big-man trio in college basketball. USC's talented guards, combined with a Bagley-anchored front court, could very well vault USC to the top of the preseason rankings.
The Trojans would have viable, undeniable national championship expectations. And it would not be a shock to hear "most talented team in college basketball" thrown around frequently if Bagley opted for cardinal and gold.
Is he even going to be able to play this season? Bagley's eligibility for 2017-18 remains up in the air. But, although this is a college basketball story for now, remember it has always been about the NBA. My colleague, Gary Parrish, puts it NBA Draft.": "Sources told CBS Sports it's not about playing college basketball this season as much as it's about becoming eligible for the 2018
Bagley is trying to move up his clock. He's old for his class, and the sooner he can get drafted, the sooner he can work to a second NBA contract. But there are a number of hoops Bagley has to clear in order to be cleared. That process. Bagley must finish the required coursework to be judged, in the eyes of the NCAA, as a valid high school graduate. Duke, USC and Arizona all begin their fall semesters the week of Aug. 21. UCLA, on the other hand, does not start classes until Sept. 25 because it is on a quarter system, not semester. It remains to be seen if Bagley's trajectory with core courses -- it is not known how much schoolwork he has left -- will have a direct impact on his college decision.
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