The major headline of the college hoops recruiting calendar came out of last week's Nike Peach Jam,to the Class of 2017. If he is able to do that, and be cleared by the NCAA's eligibility center, he can play college basketball this upcoming season.
Given how irrefutably talented Bagley is, such a move would alter the landscape of college hoops -- and change the top of the 2018 NBA Draft. Bagley, 18, has carried a stellar reputation as a pro prospect over the past two-plus years. A move to the Class of 2017 would likely prompt every mainstream mock draft service to put him in the No. 1 spot until further notice.
But the news around Bagley has created a lot of questions about how this is even possible, how he could decide in the middle of the summer to change his year of high school graduation. You've got questions, we've got the answers to catch you up on what to know.
Why is he doing this now, so late into the college hoops offseason?
Well, keep in mind that, although Bagley's exploration of reclassification has turned into a major headline this month, this is not necessarily a change in plans. Moving up the timeline has been an option for a long time. Scuttlebutt in college hoops circles regarding Bagley upgrading into the Class of 2017 go back more than a year. Only now, with him trying to get summer coursework done, does it seem real. A likelihood? That's still very much to be determined. That's why it's taken this long: the required coursework isn't yet completed.
What does Bagley need to provide and/or finish in order to be academically cleared?
This is the big question and the big hurdle. It's all about his high school transcripts. The NCAA has requirements -- a new set of standards that went into effect on Aug. 1, 2016 -- that every single student-athlete must meet in order to be eligible as a freshman. The primary bar to clear is referred to as the "10/7" rule, meaning every prospective NCAA athlete has to complete 10 core courses by the start of their seventh semester of high school. (By the time a student graduates from high school, 16 core courses need to be completed.)
Since Bagley has attended three high schools at this point (one in Phoenix, one in Tempe, Ariz., and most recently one in Chatsworth, Calif.), he would have three transcripts. If he's cleared the 10/7 bar, he would then need to complete six more core courses (some of which he's working through currently) before the start of the fall semester to qualify. From there, transcripts would need to provide "acceptable proof" (NCAA's wording) of high school graduation.
But that's not all: New eligibility requirements also stipulate prospective NCAA athletes need a 2.3 GPA at minimum to qualify for freshman competition. Plus, a student's GPA corresponds with a sliding scale for standardized test scores, which are also required to be submitted. The higher the GPA, the lower a standardized test score needs to be. But when it comes to Bagley, this is about course completion, not classroom performance: sources told CBS Sports that Bagley's grades are not an issue.
What constitutes a "core" course?
English, math and most everything that falls under the science genre. Classes such as physical education, health, visual arts, music, foreign languages, vocational work, etc. don't qualify as core courses. If you want an easy rundown, we've posted the specifics, which include the sliding scale for test scores, at the bottom of this story.
What if a Division I player hasn't completed 10 core courses by the start of their seventh semester of high school?
Then said player would be deemed either a "nonqualifier" or an academic redshirt.
If Bagley is not ruled immediately eligible, could he appeal?
Yes, but it wouldn't be an appeal; a waiver is the way. The NCAA sees approximately 500 cases annually where a prospective student-athlete is not granted immediate eligibility. Since every situation is different (similar to applying for transfer waivers), the NCAA does not publicly disclose statistics on how often initial-eligibility cases are overturned.
Does Bagley's history of attending three high schools affect his chances of immediate qualification?
Generally speaking, no. Here's what the NCAA told CBS Sports: "There is certainly greater risk of duplicative coursework when students change high schools, though if advised appropriately, the fact that a student attends multiple high schools is not generally problematic. The initial eligibility status ultimately depends on performance in the NCAA-approved core courses completed."
What are the rules/protocol in place that allow for a player to reclassify less than two months before the start of the fall semester?
It seems unusual that Bagley is doing this, because it's not like we hear about five-star prospects taking this path annually. Truth is, reclassification happens in a number of sports for a number of different reasons, though it's still not "normal." The NCAA reviews nearly 100,000 student-athletes for freshman eligibility every year; a small percentage of those involve people trying to bump up their high school year of graduation. But in football, for example, players reclassify from time to time (typically by graduating high school in December) in order to be eligible to participate in spring practice.
What other basketball players decided to reclassify late into the summer, shortly before the start of the upcoming college semester?
Andre Drummond (UConn) and Dillon Brooks (Oregon) are two recent examples of five-star prospects who got cleared a year ahead of time, and late in the summer. In Brooks' case, the timeline worked because of Oregon's delayed fall start; the school is on a trimester schedule, not semesters. Duke, Arizona and USC, the schools Bagley has announced plans to officially visit, all run on semesters. Another interesting case was that of Hamidou Diallo, who graduated a semester ahead of time and enrolled in Kentucky in January of what was supposed to be his senior year of high school. That could be a scenario for Bagley, too.
Does Bagley need to be cleared by the school he commits to before the NCAA clears him, or does the NCAA need to clear him before he commits to a school?
There's no mandate on which entity has to clear him first. Ultimately, before Bagley commits, he and his family should have a clear understanding of whether or not he'll be able to play college basketball in 2017-18. Being accepted into a school, and awarded a scholarship, is a separate process from clearing initial eligibility status with the NCAA.
Will Bagley have to actually meet in person with the NCAA at some point?
Not necessarily. Whichever school Bagley winds up choosing, that institution might have to meet with the NCAA to respond to questions or provide information regarding his acceptance to that school. But then again, it might not. Bagley has not yet submitted his academic file for official initial eligibility yet. When he does, the NCAA will let the family know within 10 business days if he is cleared.
Bagley is doing this for the NBA just as much as college, right?
That is the understanding, according to sources. In this case, Bagley completing his high school coursework (i.e. graduating) in advance of the start of the 2017-18 season would allow him to be eligible to be picked in the 2018 Draft.
The fact Bagley is going on official visits in the summer -- well before most other five-star prospects take their official visits in the fall -- is also a sign he is looking to make a choice soon, and that choice is one of necessity in order to get him on campus by September. There are still a lot of ways this could go. Bagley could be ruled a nonqualifier and have to finish out high school on his current trajectory, keeping him in the Class of 2018. He could be ruled a nonqualifier but petition a waiver, win out, and find himself capable of playing college hoops this upcoming season. Another scenario: he could complete the coursework needed and be cleared without much hassle or drama at all. Or: he could be ruled an academic redshirt, never play a game of college basketball -- but be eligible for the 2018 NBA Draft. A resolution to this should, ideally, come in August.
With Duke, Arizona, USC, Kentucky, Kansas and UCLA all still recruiting Bagley, all still tracking this story, the landscape of college basketball, and next year's NBA Draft, remain unfinished.