Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Marvin Bagley III, Projected No. 1 Pick in 2019, Helps Knock Off No. 1 La Lumiere, Talks Recruiting
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — A year ago, Marvin Bagley III had to sit on the bench at the prestigious Hoophall Classic.
As a sophomore last season, the 6-foot-11 Bagley left Hillcrest Prep (AZ) in November, enrolled at Chatsworth (Calif.) Sierra Canyon in January, was ruled ineligible to play after the state determined the transfer was athletically motivated, then lost the appeal.
A year later, Bagley was on the court and played a key role as Sierra Canyon stunned La Lumiere (IN), the No. 1 team in the nation, 76-74, before a packed house on Monday evening. After a slow start, he finished with 21 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks.
“I started off slow, a slow start, but eventually the game came to me,” Bagley said. “My teammates did very well. They got going and we eventually got going as a team and that’s what put us over the top at the end.”
Bagley has fit in well with his new teammates, who include UCLA-bound forward Cody Riley and Arizona-State point guard Remy Martin, who had a brilliant game with 18 points, 13 assists and 8 rebounds.
“In my opinion, Remy is probably the most underrated point guard in the country,” Sierra Canyon coach Ty Nichols said.
For a player with so much hype — Bagley is projected by several early mocks as the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft — Nichols said he has fit in seamlessly to the team, which isn’t always the case when a player with his skill level joins a new group.
“What people don’t realize about Marvin is what a great kid he is,” Nichols said. “They see his athleticism and his length and his shooting ability, but the kid’s a wonderful human being. So his integration into this group is just so natural because he’s a team guy, and it just makes him that much better. I mean, he’s a real pleasure to coach.”
Along with senior forward Michael Porter Jr., who went for 36 points in Nathan Hale’s win over Oak Hill Academy, and R.J. Barrett, the Montverde (FL) Academy sophomore who had 21 points in his team’s win over Bishop Montgomery (CA), Bagley is among the best overall players in high school basketball.
Bagley is so talented and oozing with so much potential, that Nichols doesn’t even know what current or former NBA players which whom he compares.
“People ask me, ‘Who do you compare him to?'” Nichols said. “He has no comparable, honestly. If you look at other players around, who do you compare Marvin to? I don’t know. I can’t think of a guy in the league. He can shoot it, he can rebound it, he can dribble it, he can pass it, he can post up, block shots. I don’t know who you compare him to.”
On the recruiting front, Bagley is working with a list of six schools, virtually all heavyweights: Kentucky, Duke, Oregon, UCLA, Arizona and Arizona State.
“It’s going great, I’m not really worried about it right now,” Bagley said of the recruiting process. “I’m just worried about winning games like this and finishing the rest of this year out and then I’ll focus more on where I want to go and things like that.”
Kentucky’s John Calipari and Tony Barbee were both on hand at the Hoophall on Monday for Bagley and Barrett, as well as Kentucky signee Nick Richards, whose Patrick School team survived Wendell Carter and Pace Academy (GA) in double-overtime, 68-60. Calipari also watched Bagley and Barrett on Friday night in Missouri.
“Oh yeah, Coach Cal texts me every now and then,” Bagley said. “Coach Cal texts me every now and then and a lot of other coaches do, too, so it’s a lot of fun process. But I’m still working hard and I’m just doing whatever I can to get this team wins and we got one tonight.”
Duke is also involved for Bagley.
“Yeah, Coach k and Coach [Jeff] Capel been texting me but I really haven’t been putting time into recruiting yet but it’ll come,” he said.
UCLA is close to his new home in California.
“It’s a great program,” he said. “It’s close to my house now. I’ve been there a couple times, saw a couple games and it’s a great school. “I love going to games and I like the environment there.”
Arizona is also heavily in the mix.
“Same with all the schools, I put them in my list because I feel like if I go there or I already been there, I feel good at those places,” he said. “So that’s where I’m coming from.”
Bagley wasn’t asked about Arizona State or Oregon because he was rushing out of the building to catch a flight, but Martin is headed to Arizona State to play for coach Bobby Hurley and Bagley’s grandfather, Joe Caldwell, played there.
As for returning to the Hoophall after sitting out last year, Bagley was philosophical.
“We put it behind us, it’s a long time ago,” he said of a blowout loss in 2016. “We lost the game, I have a short memory just like when we win games. Tomorrow we gotta put this behind us and go get the next game.”
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.