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.
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About 75 NBA Personnel Expected at Champions Classic
Approximately 75 NBA personnel are expected on Tuesday for the Champions Classic at Chicago’s United Center, a source close to the event told ZAGSBLOG.
Duke, No. 1 in the AP Preseason Poll, faces No. 2 Michigan State at 7 p.m. ET, followed by No. 4 Kansas vs. No. 5 Kentucky.
The event features five of the Top 11 projected picks on the 2018 ESPN Mock Draft — No. 3 Marvin Bagley III (Duke), No. 6 Miles Bridges (Michigan) State), No. 9 Jaren Jackson (Michigan State), No. 10 Wendell Carter Jr. (Duke) and No. 11 Trevon Duval (Duke).
Other projected first-round picks in the event include No. 17 Hamidou Diallo (Kentucky), No. 22 Nick Richards (Kentucky) and No. 24 Grayson Allen (Duke).
Projected second-rounders include No. 33 Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (Kansas) and No. 36 Devonte’ Graham (Kansas).
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,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 summers 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 he has reclassified to the Class of 2017 and enrolled 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. and 6-6 small forward Luka Doncic of Real Madrid.
ESPN’s Jonathan Givony currently has Doncic at No. 1 to the Chicago Bulls, Porter Jr. at No. 2 to Atlanta and Bagley at No. 3 to Cleveland 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 also remains the favorite for Canadian wing R.J. Barrett,who is set to announce on Friday between Duke, Kentucky and Oregon and is the projected No. 1 pick in 2019.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, 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.