Duke is all in on Marvin Bagley III

Marvin Bagley

Duke freshman Marvin Bagley III’s athletic bloodlines run deep. His father Marvin Jr., a native of Durham, North Carolina, played college football at North Carolina A&T. Bagley III’s grandfather is former Arizona State basketball great “Jumpin” Joe Caldwell. Caldwell won an Olympic gold medal in 1964, was the #2 overall pick in the NBA draft that same year, and was an NBA and ABA All Star.

Bagley III is now making a name for himself, and was a consensus All-America selection this season, becoming the 22nd consensus 1st team All-American in Duke history. He’s also a finalist for the Wooden and Naismith Awards, given to college basketball’s best player. The 6’11” 234 pound forward is the second player ever to sweep the ACC Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year awards. Bagley is also the first freshman ever to lead the conference in scoring (21.2) and rebounds (11.1) per game.

“Marvin is a special talent, and a good guy. He’s a team guy, so that’s helped tremendously. He’s a student of the game, and he’s been a real pleasure to coach.” Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. Senior guard Grayson Allen adds, “he runs down the court every single time. He gets down there before everyone else is, and then obviously with the athleticism, he can go up and get his head at the rim with one or two steps which is pretty ridiculous.”

Bagley has been turning heads since he was in junior high school when he received his first college basketball scholarship offer. The smooth lefty played at Tempe’s Corona Del Sol high school his freshman year, and made an indelible impression on his new coach before the season started. “After a summer workout, he was out running the bleachers in the June heat. Pretty much describes his work ethic. Marvin was very humble, a team player. Worked extremely hard and had a desire to be great.” said Sam Duane, Marvin’s head coach at Corona Del Sol.

As a freshman, Marvin led the Aztecs to a state championship and was named Arizona’s player of the year. “We knew he was a great talent. A couple of times during the season, when a big time college would be in and they would say, he could play for us right now. It kind of hit us like, o.k. this kid is special. We knew he was, but when a power 5 school would mention things, it made you stop and realize, hey, this is a freshman in high school, and he is special.” Duane continues. “I can remember our 4th game of the year we are in Yuma playing Kofa (roughly a 4 hour drive from Phoenix), and after the game there is about 10 kids waiting by the bus for his autograph. He was already known, even in Yuma, four games into his career. He was unlike any freshman we ever had come through Corona.”

Early into his sophomore year, Bagley transferred to Hillcrest Prep Academy in Phoenix. Then after just a couple of months at Hillcrest, he left for Sierra Canyon, a private basketball powerhouse outside of Los Angeles. He was ruled ineligible by the California Interscholastic Federation for his sophomore season. Bagley’s junior year he averaged 24.9 points and 10.1 rebounds, and was selected as the 2017 Gatorade California Player of the Year. The big man was regarded as the nation’s top recruit for the high school class of 2018, but Bagley reclassified for the class of 2017.

When it was time select a college last summer, Duke was the choice. “Coach (Krzyzewski) is arguably the greatest coach that ever coached. Obviously, being under his wing all year, every practice, seeing him every game. It’s a great experience to be able to learn, pick his brain about things he knows about. Being able to be a part of something so special, with him leading the way, is something I’ll remember for the rest of my life. It’s been a great experience for me.” Bagley said.

Bagley and Duke’s NCAA Tournament run ended on Sunday in the Elite 8 with an 85-81 overtime loss to Kansas. The freshman is expected to be a one and done, and a top five pick in this summer’s NBA draft, but he has cherished his one season in Durham as a Blue Devil. “I learned a lot of things, not only on the court but off the court. Seeing the amount of work that has to be put into this, preparation wise, studying the teams that we played all year. I learned how to take care of my body, just a lot of small things that I didn’t really know about coming into college, and just this year helped me a lot. And I just thank everybody for allowing me to be myself and just to be part of something so special.” Bagley said.

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