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If Marvin Bagley III's Reclassification Bid Succeeds, National Title Picture Will Change

If Marvin Bagley III's reclassification bid is successful, his school of choice will see its fortunes change in a hurry.

Although coaches spent the past three weeks in gyms in places such as North Augusta, S.C., Philadelphia and Las Vegas recruiting for two and three seasons down the road, a major, late development means the Class of 2017 recruiting campaign may not be over. Marvin Bagley III, the Phoenix-grown power forward who's the consensus No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2018, has filed paperwork to initiate the reclassification process and is considering playing college basketball this season if he can get cleared by the NCAA.

Bagley, a 6'11", left-handed power forward, already has quite the rep as a prospect: On Sunday night, he held his own while playing on a Drew League team with James Harden and Chris Paul in Los Angeles, and if Bagley ends up reclassifying, he could go on to be the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA draft. His move to the Class of 2017 is no lock, though, as he's played at three different high schools in Arizona and California, potentially complicating his transcripts, and has only a month left before he'll need to be ready to enroll in college.

If Bagley can pull it off, he'll be the best oversized lefty hitting college hoops since Michael Beasley at Kansas State in 2007, or Julius Randle at Kentucky in 2013—with far even more athleticism than either of those two one-and-done stars. And given Bagley's elite list of suitors, he has a chance to be a factor in the national championship race in 2017-18. Here's how each of his suitors stand, including their scholarship situation, recruiting visit and lineup fit.


Officially visited: Yes

Scholarship situation: The Blue Devils have two open spots, one of which was freed by the transfer of forward Chase Jeter to another Bagley suitor, Arizona. Taking a reclassified freshman isn't out of the norm for Duke, either, as it brought in point guard Derryck Thornton a year ahead of schedule in 2015-16, following Tyus Jones' one-and-done departure to the NBA.

Lineup situation: The Blue Devils' most likely frontcourt was McDonald's All-America freshman Wendell Carter at the four and sophomore Marques Bolden at the five, without much depth behind them. Swapping out Bolden for Bagley—and having him attack bigs off the bounce from the elbows, at a much higher volume than Amile Jefferson did last season—would give the offense a boost. A Bagley-Carter duo could be dominant on the glass at both ends, too, and Bagley's athleticism would allow Duke to play at a higher tempo. Coach K would have an interesting shot-volume situation to manage, as returning starter Grayson Allen, freshman two-guard Gary Trent Jr. and Bagley all project as high-usage players, but the presence of a real point guard this season—five-star freshman Trevon Duval—should make that easier.

Team boost: The non-Bagley version of Duke isn't deep or experienced enough to be a clear title contender, but Bagley would push it into the preseason top 10 as well as the title conversation.


Officially visited: Yes

Scholarship situation: All 13 are filled for 2017-18, which means someone would have to depart, shift to walk-on status—or Bagley would have to be a walk-on himself—in order to make room. Seeing that USC coach Andy Enfield wants Bagley badly enough to have made scholarship offers to not only him but his sophomore-in-high-school brother, Marcus, and his 7-year-old brother, Martay, I suspect the Trojans can magically find a way to make room for Marvin this season.

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Lineup situation: The Trojans already have a loaded roster, with eight quality rotation players returning and Duke transfer Derryck Thornton becoming eligible. They already have a talented 4-5 duo in rising juniors Bennie Boatwright and Chimezie Metu, who both passed on the NBA draft to rejoin what looks like a top-10 team. But Bagley is the kind of player even an established rotation gets altered for, as he's the ideal, transition big man for Enfield's playing style. Four of Enfield's past five teams, dating back to his final season at Florida Gulf Coast, have ranked in the top 50 in tempo, and Bagley has the athleticism to get transition dunks galore.

Team boost: The Trojans will likely get some No. 1 votes in the preseason polls with Bagley, and may land in the top 10 even without him.


Officially visited: Yes

Scholarship situation: All 13 spots are filled for 2017-18. At the end of last season, the Wildcats looked as if they might have three open scholarships, but they were filled with the addition of Duke transfer Chase Jeter, the reclassification of five-star recruit Emmanuel Akot and the NCAA granting former grad transfer Talbott Denny, who missed last season with a knee injury, a sixth year of eligibility. Arizona, like USC, would have to work some magic to add Bagley, or just hope he waits to enroll until 2018.

Lineup situation: The Wildcats already have a potential No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft in their frontcourt in freshman 7-footer DeAndre Ayton, who was likely to play the four alongside veteran center Dusan Ristic. A Bagley addition would presumably slide Ristic, who started all but three games last season, to a reserve role—and create the best starting frontcourt in the nation. How returning, iso-happy guard Allonzo Trier, Ayton and Bagley would share shots is something that would need be worked out, but there are worse problems for coach Sean Miller to have.

Team boost: Arizona might be a unanimous No. 1 if it adds Bagley, and a split-vote No. 1 even if it doesn't have him.



Officially visited: Not yet

Scholarship situation: The Jayhawks have one spot open thanks to both Carlton Bragg's transfer to Arizona State, and then the departure of graduate transfer Jack Whitman, who had arrived from William & Mary this off-season. Kansas could use another active player, as three of its scholarships are committed to redshirting transfers—​Dedric and K.J. Lawson, from Memphis and Charlie Moore from Cal—and another is committed to a midseason-eligible transfer, San Cunliffe from Arizona State.

Lineup situation: Bill Self's brief smallball experiment would likely end with the addition of Bagley, as he'd slide in next to giant center Udoka Azubuike in the starting lineup and form a nicely contrasting duo of NBA prospects. A template for Bagley as a Jayhawk might be the way they used Perry Ellis in the latter part of his career, often pick-and-popping him to set up dribble-drive attacks from the perimeter.

Team boost: Having a legitimate frontcourt star to go along with a talented, veteran backcourt of Devonte' Graham, Malik Newman and Svi Mykhailiuk would likely earn the Jayhawks No. 1 votes. Even without Bagley, though, they're the favorites to win the Big 12.


Officially visited: Yes

Scholarship situation: One spot open for 2017-18, created by the unexpected NBA departure of Ike Anigbogu after just one season. (Fellow freshmen Lonzo Ball and T.J. Leaf were unsurprising one-and-dones.) Like Duke, the Bruins already have a six-man freshman class coming in, with room for a seventh.

Lineup situation: Senior Thomas Welsh is entrenched at the five-spot, where his mid-range sniping figures to be a key part of the Bruins' offense, but there's no incumbent at power forward, and Bagley could start there and rarely leave the floor. He might lead the nation in transition dunks if coach Steve Alford remains committed to playing uptempo. Alford would need to alter his halfcourt offense to set up more isos or pick-and-pops for Bagley, though; last year's attack was heavily predicated on catch-and-shoot opportunities.

Team boost: The Bruins might be too young across the board to win a title with Bagley, but—just like last season—they'd be a must-watch team.


Officially visited: Not yet

Scholarship situation: Two spots open. The Wildcats' latest inexperience experiment has them bringing in an eight-man freshman class, with zero scholarship upperclassmen returning. Coach John Calipari will inevitably be reminding us, many times this season, that this is a young team, trying to fail fast.

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Lineup situation: Kentucky has a crew of talented power-forward types who'll be trying to break through, including sophomores Wenyen Gabriel, Sacha Killeya-Jones and Tai Wynyard, and freshmen P.J. Washington and Jarred Vanderbilt. But Bagley would jump that line, and it seems likely that Calipari would roll with a 1-4 of Quade Green (PG), Hamidou Diallo (SG), Kevin Knox (SF) and Bagley (PF/C), with the fifth spot open for competition. Kentucky can offer Bagley perhaps the strongest template of how he'd be showcased, too, as Calipari made Julius Randle dribble-attacks a go-to option of UK's 2013-14 offense.

Team boost: This team's lack of seasoned returnees means things could be clunky over the early months, but if they have Bagley, I'd expect them to be among the top 6-8 title favorites by March.