Nation’s top recruit Marvin Bagley instantly makes Duke contenders

Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire

Shock waves reverberated loudly throughout the college basketball world late Monday night when the nation’s No. 1 player in the 2018 class, Marvin Bagley III, announced on ESPN that he was reclassifying to the 2017 class and committing to the Duke Blue Devils.

Just a day after Duke head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski secured a commitment from the class of 2018’s best point guard Tre Jones, Coach K outdid himself with the addition of Bagley on Monday.

With Bagley’s commitment, Duke has legitimate title aspirations heading into the 2017-18 season.

Bagley chose the Blue Devils over his other finalists USC and UCLA. Arizona, Kansas and Kentucky also made a play for Bagley.

“The brotherhood there,” Bagley told ESPN on why he chose Duke. “I had a good feeling there. Ever since they first offered me a scholarship, I’ve always liked Duke. (Duke) is a special place. You have to be special to be a part of it. I’m blessed. I thank God every day for allowing me to see schools like that and be in this position to go to a place like that. I’m very thankful.”

There isn’t a recruit as coveted as Bagley. Many label him as a once-in-a-generation-type talent and one of the better recruits in at least a decade.

The 6-foot-11, 221-pound power forward/center from Tempe, Ariz., (Sierra Canyon High School) is a unanimous 5-star recruit, and that’s how 247Sports ranked him. The site ranks him as the No. 1 overall player in the country.

Bagley has such a diverse set of skills for a big man. His talent has NBA scouts and general managers drooling over his potential.

He can dominate the low post with quick spin moves to the basket. Bagley is also relentless on the boards and is very active in the paint. Blessed with a tremendous wingspan, Bagley also blocks a lot of shots.

The smooth lefty is especially spectacular when he gets out on the fast break. Bagley is one of the most gifted and athletic big men to come out of the high school ranks in years.

With awe-inspiring athleticism and the ability to take his game out to the perimeter and drain 3-pointers, there is a good reason why scouts consider him the nation’s best, and perhaps the No. 1 pick in next year’s NBA draft.

ESPN’s Paul Biancardi likens Bagley to a mix between Anthony Davis and Chris Bosh.

So what does this mean for Duke?

The Blue Devils were already a top-10 team, but Krzyzewski and Co. can start to dream big with the addition of Bagley, who was considered a missing piece to a roster needing help in the frontcourt.

Bagley likely will start at center, and be flanked by probable starters Trevon Duval, Grayson Allen, Gary Trent Jr. and Wendell Carter. FanRag Sports’ Jon Rothstein now ranks Duke as his No. 1 team heading into the 2017-18 season.

By Bagley choosing Duke and heading to a prestigious blue-blood program, he knows that playing there will come with great expectations. However, pressure does not faze Bagley, who is ready for any challenge that comes his way.

“I just stay humble,” Bagley told ESPN about how he manages expectations. “My dad (and) my family have been preaching to me one day somebody will say, ‘You’re this good,’ and tomorrow they’ll say, ‘I’m a horrible player.’ So, that’s what I keep in my mind. I got to make sure I’m staying on top of my workouts so I don’t fall off.”

Adding Bagley’s transcendent talent to the youthful mix already assembled, along with Allen heading into his senior season, gives Coach K all the ingredients for his sixth championship.

With Krzyzewski’s deteriorating health becoming an issue, this season could be viewed as his chance to go out in a blaze of glory.

The bottom line is Bagley is like a hired gun who most likely will be in college for just one season. He could not have picked a better program to get the most out of his talent for that one season.

Given Coach K’s penchant for sending players to the pros and always having his team in position to go far in the NCAA Tournament, Bagley will get the best of both worlds before he heads to the NBA.

Enjoy Bagley while you can. Duke certainly will.

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