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.
NBA scouts anxious to get a look at Duke’s Marvin Bagley
Because he hasn’t played in a national all-star game like the McDonald’s All-American Game or the Nike Hoop Summit, and because he hasn’t played for any USA Basketball national teams, Marvin Bagley III remains a relative unknown to a many NBA GMs and scouts.
Bagley is coming off a summer in which he averaged 25.8 points, a league-high 14.9 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game for the Nike Phamily in the EYBL, but no NBA scouts were able to watch him at last month’s Peach Jam, where he was named to the All-Peach Jam First Team.
“He hasn’t played at anything an NBA scout has ever been at,” one NBA scout told ZAGSBLOG. “There’s just AAU and Drew League film floating around so I think everyone is waiting to see how real the hype is.”
Now that Bagley has announced he will reclassify to the Class of 2017 and enroll at Duke for the 2017-18 season, there will be intense interest from NBA personnel in his practices and games.
“There will be a scout at every Duke game this year, especially in the ACC,” a second NBA scout said. “Bagley is going 1, 2 or 3 [in the draft].”
“He will play on the biggest stage,” a third scout said. “Now everyone will see him all the time in person and TV.”
The 6-foot-11 Bagley figures to be in the mix for the No. 1 overall pick in 2018, along with 6-10 Missouri freshman forward Michael Porter Jr.
ESPN’s Jonathan Givony currently has Porter Jr. at No. 1 to the Chicago Bulls, with Bagley at No. 2 to the Boston Celtics via the Nets.
“I mean, it’s a close call because Porter is really gifted and he’s big and strong and athletic and very, very skilled,” ESPN’s Jay Bilas told ZAGSBLOG. “I would probably put Bagley a little bit ahead of him given how young he is and he’s very gifted, but they’re both outstanding prospects. It’s going to be 1-2 whatever it is.”
Assuming Bagley goes in the top three, it would mark the fifth straight season Duke has produced a top-three pick following Jabari Parker (No. 2, 2014), Jahlil Okafor (No. 3, 2015), Brandon Ingram (No. 2, 2016) and Jayson Tatum (No. 3, 2017).
Duke opted to skip its trip to the Dominican Republic this month because head coach Mike Krzyzewski is undergoing total knee replacement surgery, and Bagley likely wouldn’t have participated in those games anyway.
Duke will host Countdown to Craziness on Oct. 20 and then likely will have another pro day in late October. Last year, more than 60 NBA scouts attended Duke’s pro day when Luke Kennard, Grayson Allen and Marques Bolden impressed, and Tatum got injured.
Once again, Duke will have plenty to offer at a pro day, as freshmen Bagley, Wendell Carter Jr. and Trevon Duvalare all projected lottery picks by ESPN. Allen is a projected first-rounder and Bolden a projected second-rounder.
Duke will play exhibition games against Northwest Missouri State and Bowie State on Oct. 27 and Nov. 4, respectively, before opening the 2017-18 regular season at home against Elon on Nov. 10.
While scouts will be in attendance at every game, Duke could opt to shut practices down to scouts after its pro day.
As usual, certain Duke games will draw a ton of NBA scouts, including the Champions Classic against Michigan State on Nov. 14, when the Blue Devils will face projected lottery pick Miles Bridges in Chicago, while Kentucky will face Kansas.
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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 whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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.