Three coaching staffs huddled around their TVs for more than half an hour late Monday night as ESPN taunted them with Yankees-Red Sox highlights, coverage of Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension and NBA schedule analysis.
Only Duke’s Mike Kryzyzewski can say it was worth the wait.
Thirty-five minutes into SportsCenter, Marvin Bagley, the consensus No. 1 prospect in all of high school basketball, announced that he will attend Duke and that he intends to enroll as part of the 2017 class. Bagley chose the Blue Devils over USC and UCLA as well as fellow suitors Kentucky, Kansas and Arizona.
Whether or not Bagley is able to graduate from high school early and gain clearance to play for Duke next season, the decision to reclassify to the 2017 class makes sense. The multidimensional 6-foot-11 forward has already outgrown high school basketball and he’ll now be eligible for the 2018 NBA draft.
Assuming Bagley plays for Duke, his decision has the potential to change the landscape of college basketball next season. A Blue Devils team that wasn’t certain to crack the preseason top 10 without him now vaults into national title contention along with the likes of Kansas, Michigan State and Arizona.
A coveted prospect since he was in ninth grade, Bagley had every prominent coach in the country flocking to his games on the AAU circuit the past few summers. The mobile, skilled big man played for three different high schools in California and Arizona, showcasing an NBA body, a relentless motor and soft touch out to beyond the 3-point arc.
Before Bagley’s commitment, Duke’s most likely frontcourt was prized freshman Wendell Carter at the four, former McDonald’s All-American sophomore Marques Bolden at the five and little depth behind them. Now the Blue Devils can bring Bolden or Carter off the bench and use Bagley at power forward, where he can run the floor, attack the boards and use his quickness to beat opposing big men off the bounce from the elbows.
One potential problem for Duke could be properly spacing the floor for slashing guards Grayson Allen, Gary Trent and Trevon Duval. Another could be finding enough shots to satisfy its stable of McDonald’s All-Americans. But unlike last season when Duke lacked a true point guard, the presence of Duval should help alleviate both those issues.
Ultimately, Duke is in much better position with Bagley than it would be without him.
By adding the best prospect in high school basketball only days before the start of the new school year, the Blue Devils are now a more viable title contender.