Arizona Basketball

Skills of Arizona Wildcats Class of 2018 recruiting target Bagley III far advanced


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Tempe Corona del Sol post player Marvin Bagley III plays under the watchful eye of many college coaches including Mike Krzyzewski, in the background to the right (YouTube video screen shot)

Tempe Corona del Sol post player Marvin Bagley III plays under the watchful eye of many college coaches including Mike Krzyzewski, in the background to the right (YouTube video screen shot)

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LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Too often when following these AAU summer tournaments, we can get caught up in hyperbole about a prospect’s future despite it being mostly a guessing game.

Make no mistake about Marvin Bagley III: He does not require press clippings or a five-star rating to build his profile with the college coaching elite.

Bagley, 16, will enter his sophomore season at Tempe Corona del Sol in the next month with the ability to start for most major college programs. In fact, with his far advanced skill set as a versatile post player at 6’11” and 195 pounds, he could start for a majority of programs ranked in the Top 25 three years ahead of his scheduled time to be a freshman in college.

I have reported on the summer evaluation period in Las Vegas for almost 15 years now. I can’t recall a player with the size of Bagley play more like a guard or wing rather than a post player.

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“He’s very versatile,” said his father Marvin Bagley Jr., who is also his son’s personal trainer and coach. “He can put it on the floor. With his size, he can also lead your team in
rebounds. That’s something that you don’t see. Your leading rebounder is usually an inside guy and he
can’t help you advance the ball under pressure.

“With my son, it’s one of those things where you have to pick your poison. If you double him, he’s a great passer, he can hit the open man, that sort of thing.”

While observing Bagley III’s We All Can Go (WACG) AAU team play Friday afternoon, what stuck out the most was his ratio of playing facing the basket vs. posting up. The difference was about 8:2.

On a couple of occasions, he weaved his way through traffic, dribbling the ball with his long stride and finished strong at the basket towering over others on the way. The prototypical post players with Indiana Faith could not keep up and required to be sent to the bench on many occasions to catch a breather.

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Meanwhile, Bagley III kept steamrolling along. When he does post up, he has the ball-handing skills, quickness and strength to be dominant around the basket.

“I don’t want to be in one spot and have one position,” he told me about his perimeter playing style. “I want to be able to do it all. Playing with this team is giving me a chance to show what I can do and what I’ve been working on.

“You never want to be in one position, you want to be able to go to all five and do what you can do.”

Playing in the summer league circuit provides Bagley III the opportunity to extend his game. At Tempe Corona del Sol, where he led his team to a state title last season, he is situated for the most part around the lane because of his size in relation to others.

His true skill of playing at all positions is showcased here for coaches such as Arizona assistant Mark Phelps, who attended yesterday’s game.

“I have encouraged him to be versatile since he was as young as my 6-year-old, playing on teams where he always was the tallest kid,” the elder Bagley said. “(Coaches) would try to tell him, ‘Give it to the guard, give it to the guard.’ My question to them was, ‘How do you know he’s not a guard?'”

That direction has ultimately led to Bagley III being the force he is today. Others grow into the conformed way of being a center, playing only like a center, with only post-up moves.

“He does a lot of things that is amazing for someone so young,” said his father, a former football player at North Carolina A&T. “You don’t see his skill set in college or sometimes you don’t even see it at the pro level.

“On top of everything, he’s a hard worker. He understands that if you work hard you should expect success and great things to happen.”

Almost 20 big-time college programs have offered Bagley III a scholarship, some as early as when he was 14. Duke, Kentucky, Arizona, Louisville … the list is endless. It is enough to make a young player like Bagley play with stars in his eyes. But his maturity level, like his game, is far beyond his years.

“I don’t think about it,” he said when asked about his notoriety. “One day people can say you’re No. 1 and one day people can say you’re not good at all. It’s a matter of opinion.

“I try to get my game to the next level and just keep working. That’s all I can focus on right now.”

Bagley III intends to keep doing that work at Corona del Sol for the next three years despite long-time legendary coach Sam Duane Jr. retiring after last season. Rumors and reports have circulated that Bagley III might play for a national program such as Findlay Prep to conclude his high school career with Duane gone.

Nah, I respect the coach’s decision, but I don’t think (leaving) ever crossed mind,” he said. “Corona del Sol is definitely a place I feel comfortable at. It’s a great environment. I don’t see myself going anywhere else.”

When he does move on from high school to the next level neither he or his father know what that future holds.

“We are really not putting too much into it, any college right now,” Bagley Jr. said. “He has three years of high school left. We have to figure out the eligibility (for the NBA out of high school) thing too by then. In three years, the whole vision of it will be different probably.

“What coach will be where? When the time comes, we will take a closer look. We don’t want to go with a big name just because they’re a big name. We got to actually see situation where he can reach his potential.”

Two of his most active suitors are the in-state schools, Arizona and ASU. Both father and son said they do not put one above the other.

Both remarked about how Arizona’s fan support intrigues them among other important factors including Sean Miller’s ability to produce five NBA first-round draft picks in the last five seasons at Arizona, a rate Lute Olson did not even accomplish.

“The tradition, location and developmental opportunities are what we like,” the elder Bagley said. “We see a lot of kids who go into the program, and what we see when they come out is completely different.”

Bagley III added: “Right now, I’d say the fan support sticks out to me the most. They have a great fan base. I went to the Red-Blue Game last year and it was amazing. It’s definitely something I would be looking to forward to playing at. It was a great feeling when I was there.”

If in three years, Bagley III is wearing an Arizona uniform, the situation would fall in line with some of the state’s top prospects joining the Wildcat program. Phoenix-area products Mike Bibby, Richard Jefferson, Channing Frye and Jerryd Bayless are among them.

“I’m really appreciative of all the schools that see potential in me,” Bagley III said. “I just thank God for putting me in this position where people can see what I can do and like how I play the game of basketball.”

ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He has also written articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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