Writer: Andrew Martin
Marvin Bagley III to Duke
Just as we thought the 2017 recruiting class was done, and practices for the next season had started begun, Marvin Bagley III dropped a bomb on the college basketball world. Marvin Bagley is a 6’10, 190-pound 18-year-old who many believe will be the next great superstar in basketball. Bagley announced in July that he was considering reclassifying, having just finished his junior year of high school at Sierra Canyon in California. Soon after announcing that, Bagley began taking official visits and then narrowed down his list to UCLA, Duke, and USC. On August 12th ESPN reported, Bagley would announce if he would reclassify, and where he would be going to school.
Watch Marvin Bagley’s highlight reel on the Ball Is Life YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yjwDQd_6BbY
After two days of the Twitter and sports world freaking out and throwing out assumption after assumption, it was finally time for Marvin Bagley to let the world know his plans. On August 14th Bagley announced that he had decided to forego his senior season of high school to play college basketball this upcoming season. Bagley was the No. 1 player in the 2018 class and after announcing his reclassification to the 2017 class, he was moved up to No. 1 in the 2017 class, jumping over Missouri commit Michael Porter Jr who had held the top spot all year. Yes, Marvin Bagley is that good. Then came the big decision, USC, UCLA, or Duke? Bagley turned to a bag next to him and pulled out a #35 Duke jersey, and that instantly changed the landscape of the 2017 recruiting classes and how the upcoming season would look. This commitment immediately moved Duke into the top spot of recruiting classes for this year, and now many analysts and experts are calling Duke a guaranteed top 3 team and a very strong National Championship contender.
Bagley’s commitment was the icing on the cake for arguably the best recruiting class in the modern era of College Basketball recruiting. The 2017 Duke recruiting class includes 3-star SG Jordan Goldwire, 4-star SF Jordan Tucker, 4-star SG Alex O’Connell, 5-star SG Gary Trent Jr, 5-star PF Wendell Carter, 5-star PG Trevon Duval, and now 5-star PF Marvin Bagley III. Two of those recruits, Trevon Duval and Marvin Bagley are the best players at their position in the country. Still not impressed with Duke? How about the returning players, after winning an ACC tournament championship last season Duke brings back Senior, Grayson Allen, Sophomore, Javin Delaurier, and Sophomore, Marques Bolden just to name a few. Coach K is more relevant than ever, and along with the No. 1 CBB recruiter in assistant coach, Jeff Capel, Duke continues to dominate the recruiting process. Bagley, the final piece to the 2017 Blue Devils will soon head to Durham, NC to join the team and begin preparing for what could be an incredible year that starts on November 10th when Duke plays host to Elon for the sixth straight year.
Picture Source: Winston-Salem Journal
The Blue Devils are obviously loaded this year with strong frontcourt play out of Carter and Bagley, a great backcourt with Duval and Allen, but the biggest question may be if they can stay healthy. Injuries plagued Duke in the 2016-17 season causing the team to not fully mesh together, and ultimately resulting in a Sweet-16 loss to South Carolina. However, a healthy Duke team would be ridiculously dangerous on both ends of the floor, and a complete nightmare for opposing teams. While going through the ACC, which may be the best conference in college basketball won’t be easy at all, a healthy Duke squad winning the conference wouldn’t be a shock. I know it’s only August, we have a long season ahead of us, but as of now my 2017-18 National Championship prediction is Duke vs Michigan State with Duke coming out on top and winning their sixth title.
In case anyone is still on the verge of buying into Marvin Bagley I’ll leave you with this. As I mentioned earlier, Bagley announced that he will be wearing #35 for Duke, that number has been retired since 1989 when Danny Ferry was a senior. A program like Duke doesn’t take a number out of retirement, even if it is just for a year, unless the kid wearing it is special, and Marvin Bagley III might be just that, special.