Photo courtesy of Position Sports/Nike.
By David Cordova
When playing high school basketball, the main objective is the land that college scholarship. But another thing on the minds of the many are the rankings on websites such as ESPN, Rivals, 24/7 Sports and Scout.com respectively. Every kid wants to be known as the best, everyone plans on being number one.
The chance of being ranked No. 1 in the country is something that is awarded to few. But there is one player in the country that has worked to attain that top spot, his name is Marvin Bagley III.
Bagley, the reigning and consensus No. 1 player in the class of 2018 from the state of Arizona, has been a prime-time player since his middle school days. He is a 6-11 forward that throws down ferocious dunks and blocks plenty of shots in the lane. And also, like many big men nowadays, he shows a lot of versatility in his ballhandling and also being able to shoot from long range.
When asked what motivates him to be successful in the game of basketball, Bagley said, “To be the best, you know. I play the game because I love it and I want to be the best I can be. That’s the main reason that I play. I’m also here because God put me here. I just want to show off my talents and how blessed I am and how he blessed me with the game of basketball and I just want to go out and do whatever I can to use my gift.”
Bagley credits his development to the tutelage of his father, Marvin Bagley, Jr., a former football player and his coach for many years. “He’s had an impact on most of my development. Ever since I started doing drills in the gym and everything like that, so he’s been a big part of what I’ve been doing this whole time.”
On playing in the Nike EYBL, which is regarded as the most prestigious AAU circuit in the country: “It’s fun, every game is a good game, the competition is great. You know you can’t come out lax in any game because they’re going to come at you hard and you have to be prepared, so that’s what I like about it.”
Through his middle school days, Bagley dominated the AAU circuit with the We All Can Go All-Stars, a program based in Tennessee, with plenty of talent. Through the spring and summer of 2015, WACG steamrolled through the the Nike E16 circuit despite having many players that had not entered high school yet. The crew of Bagley, Tyger Campbell, Darius Garland and Francis Okoro led WACG to a berth at the Nike Peach Jam, which is one of the biggest stages of grassroots basketball. In one of the games there, he scored 33 points and added 13 rebounds in front of a bunch of college coaches, including Duke head coach and Hall of Famer Mike Krzyzewski.
When asked about his first time at the Peach Jam, Bagley replied, “It was good. My first time out here in Peach Jam. It was a great team we had. We had great chemistry.”
As far as scholastic basketball, Bagley played bigger than his age as he led Corona del Sol to a 33-1 record in his freshman year and an Arizona state championship for the fourth year in a row, while averaging 19.6 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.4 blocks and 2.3 assists per game. He then transferred to Hillcrest Prep for his sophomore year, but then left in November and then moved to California and enrolled at Sierra Canyon High School in Chatsworth, a suburb of Los Angeles. But then the state athletic association ruled him ineligible in January, due to a claim that the transfer was athletically motivated.
When asked about how he felt about being ranked No. 1 in the country, Bagley replied, “Me personally, I never feel like I’m there. I feel that this is only a part of where I want to go. You know, I know there’s a lot more to do, a lot more to work on. This is not where I want to be at. It’s a blessing for people to say that about me, but I can’t sit back and focus on that because one day, they hate you and one day, they love you. I just try to work harder everyday. Every single day and get better every chance I get.”
After missing his entire sophomore season, Bagley set his sights on the Nike EYBL circuit in April, playing in the first session in Brooklyn, New York, for a new team, Phoenix Phamily, which was founded by his father, Bagley, Jr. “It’s been great. It’s actually been around since I was in the fourth grade, but it’s the first time that it’s been big like this on a circuit, so it’s been great, God has blessed us.” Through the first four sessions of the EYBL, Bagley averaged 20.9 points, 10.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks, while leading the Phamily to its first Peach Jam berth. Although they didn’t make it out of pool play, Bagley had a good showing with 19.4 points, 7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game in three games for the Phamily.
In the last couple of years, Bagley held as much as 20 Division I offers from high-major programs. But in early June, he cut his list to six schools: Oregon, UCLA, Duke, Kentucky and powers from his home state, Arizona and Arizona State. “My college recruitment has been great,” he says, “I’m just trying to ease the recruiting process, but it’s going great.”
Now entering his junior year of high school, Bagley intends make plenty of noise at his new school and continue to better his game. As long as he continues to maintain his level of play, there’s a very huge chance that he will be playing professional basketball someday. But for now, he plans on taking care of what’s ahead of him. “My plans for my junior season are to play and play hard, to win. I want to win a state championship and that’s the only goal. I’m just going to go out and play my hardest and play to win.”
When asked what’s next for him in the future?: “Whatever God has. I can’t sit here and tell you the plan, but the plan won’t work unless God wants it to work, so you know it’s really up to him. So I’m just sitting back, enjoying the show and going wherever god takes me.”
Highlights of Marvin Bagley, III:
Courtesy of Max Preps
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Courtesy of CityLeagueHoopsTV
Courtesy of NextUp Recruits