Writer: Andrew Martin
Coming in to the 2017-18 College Basketball season, names like DeAndre Ayton, Joel Berry II, Mohamed Bamba, Miles Bridges, Michael Porter Jr, and many others stood out as top candidates for the Wooden award. However, now just over a month into the new season, there’s one name that has everyone talking; Marvin Bagley III. Just before the new school year begun, Bagley reclassified to go to Duke a year earlier than planned, this shot him from the top recruit in the class of 18’, to the top of this year’s class.
Marvin Bagley is a genetic unicorn, coming in at 6’11, 234 pounds, with a 7’0 wingspan. Obviously, that build gives him the ability to play the role of an old-fashioned big man, but his game is anything but old-fashioned. Bagley has the skill set to score from anywhere on the floor, just 12 games into Duke’s season we’ve seen him do everything from turn around post shots, to nailing three’s in defender’s eyes. From that last sentence, you might think to compare him to Porzingis, but his game extends far further than that. His ball handling is miles ahead of any big men in basketball right now. Multiple times this year he’s grabbed a defensive rebound, then took the ball down the floor himself, and finished with a coast-to-coast euro step layup, or even dunk. He also has incredible defense intangibles, and an uncanny ability to rebound the basketball. Many strong defensive possessions and rebounds from MB35 have led to fast break buckets for the Blue Devils.
You could take my word for everything you’ve read above, but I’d rather prove it to you with statistics. Twelve games into Dukes 2017-18 campaign, Bagley is averaging a double-double with 21.3 PPG and 11.3 REB’s, he’s put up these numbers against strong teams like #2 MSU, Texas, Indiana, and #7 Florida. This includes his best game of the year against Mohamed Bamba, who many consider to be the best big man in the country, and Texas, where Bagley went for 34 and 15. He did this while keeping Mamba to 9 and 10, and managing to help foul him out in an overtime win for Duke. Along with these numbers, he’s already making history at Duke, to start his 25-point debut was the most points ever scored in a debut by a Blue Devil. Bagley’s 34 and 15 game against Texas was the most points scored by a Duke freshmen since J.J. Redick in 2003. Also, it was the first time ANY Duke player has had at least 30 points and 15 rebounds since Christian Laettner. Christian Laettner. One of the greatest college basketball players of all time, and seven games into Bagley’s career, he was already doing Laettner-like things.
While Marvin Bagley came into the year on the preseason Wooden award watch-list, he has become the clear-cut favorite to win the award in many people’s minds. With a difficult rest of the season ahead for Bagley and the Blue Devils, we will get to see just how good he is.