Marvin Bagley had the best debut for any Duke player ever

Duke's season opener vs. Elon on Friday night had a lot of intriguing elements to it, but the real reason to watch was for Marvin Bagley III.

The freshman reclassified late in the summer, then managed to get eligible a year ahead of schedule in order to be part of the No. 1-ranked Blue Devils squad, which also has the No. 1-ranked recruiting class. In the eyes of many scouts, Bagley is the leader at this stage for the No. 1 pick come June of next year. How would he ease into playing D-I?

With the command of a player ready to tap into something special. 

Bagley wasted no time dissuading those who hold the opinion that he's the top prospect for the 2018 NBA draft. Duke predictably dominated the Phoenix 97-68. Bagley looked anything but freshman-like, scoring 25 points and grabbing 10 boards. He broke Shavlik Randolph's 23-point output in 2002 for the best debut in Duke history. 

Take a look at Bagley vs. Elon here. He's obviously going to face much tougher talent, but this is a young man who already should be in the NBA

The 6-foot-11 power forward/center looked adept in Duke's offense immediately. That's encouraging for Duke fans and terrifying for most opponents. He hit 12 of his 18 shots -- and the fact he got 18 shots was surprising as well. Bagley was going to factor into Duke's scheme, sure, but he wasted no time sending a warning sign to future comers. In fact, because Duke was reliable from 3-point range, there were no signs of this team's youth overhaul. 

It's just one game, but it's hard to make a better first impression than this. Bagley had plenty of help to make his night easier. Grayson Allen had 22, including six 3-pointers, and freshman Gary Trent Jr. had 17 points. 

The outcome gave Mike Krzyzewski his 999th win at Duke. He'll go for No. 1,000 on Saturday night against Utah Valley, which gave Kentucky a tussle on Friday night before losing 73-63.

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Norlander is a national award-winning writer who has been with CBS Sports since 2010. He's in his seventh season covering college basketball for CBS, and also covers the NBA Draft, the Olympics and... Full Bio

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