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Marvin Bagley III is a seventh grader with scholarship offers, and that’s a problem

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Marvin Bagley III, a 6-foot-8 forward that hails from Phoenix, just picked up a scholarship offer from Arizona State, according to reports. It’s the second scholarship offer that Bagley has, as another in-state program, Northern Arizona, reportedly offered him as well.

Let’s sidestep the whole ‘Are those really scholarship offers?‘ issue for a second and instead focus on the fact that Bagley still has a year left in middle school.

Yup.

(UPDATE: It’s worth noting here that Bagley is the grandson of Joe Caldwell, an Arizona State legend that has his jersey hanging in the Wells Fargo Arena rafters.)

He’s in 7th grade. He won’t graduate high school until 2018. And not only does he have scholarship offers from coaches that, more likely than not, will be coaching elsewhere by the time that he can finally go to college, he already has a mixtape.

Seriously. Click on that link. Look at the players Bagley is going up against. They come up to his knees because, you know, they are 12 and 13 and 14 years old.

There’s a real danger is publicizing, hyping up and recruiting players that are still in middle school. It’s something I’m very much against. These athletes are still kids, even though they have the size and build of someone much older. How many seventh graders have hit puberty and hit their growth spurts? The kids that do — the ones that develop early and get their strength, their athleticism, their size, and their five o’clock shadow while still in middle school — are the kids that dominate at the middle school level.

And now there’s a study to prove it.

Researchers at the Indiana University looked at elite track and field athletes at the junior and the senior levels and found that only a minority of the younger star athletes found the same kind of success at an older age:

The researchers think physical maturation is behind the disparity, with athletes who mature early reaping the benefits early, seeing their best times, jumps and throws at a younger age than Olympians, many of whom mature later.

“You see it in a lot of sports,” said Robert Chapman, assistant professor in the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington and a former cross country coach at IU. “Elite performers in senior sports tend to be the ones who mature later. But it’s hard to measure, particularly in men, the rate at which they mature.”

The most telling stats? Only 23.6% of the junior athletes studied went on to win Olympic medals, while just 29.9% of the Olympians studied won medals at the junior level.

In a much less scientific way, we can tie this right back into basketball. Think: Derrick Caracter, and Demetrius Walker, and Taylor King, and Renardo Sidney. And that’s just off the top of my head.

The danger isn’t just the fact that the rest of the kids in their age group catch up in terms of size and strength and athleticism. It’s that these stars believe they’ve made it simply because they someone put highlights of them on youtube or a reporter interviewed them or they got a letter from a head coach at a Pac-12 program.

What they don’t realize is that those letters and those interviews and that attention they are receiving is based entirely on potential. It’s based on the fact that, if they work as hard as they can everyday on becoming a better basketball player, they could one day have a chance of playing in college and maybe the NBA.

But what motivation is there to develop a post game when you get all the adulation a middle-schooler can handle simply for being impossible to defend thanks to your height? Why does someone needs to learn to shoot and dribble when all they have to do is run at the rim and jump over any and all defenders?

Marvin Bagley III could very well end up being picked in the lottery of the 2019 NBA Draft. He clearly has worlds of potential.

But he also has six full years, and a countless number of hours that he’ll have to spend in a gym, before that should even be a thought that crosses his mind.

Hopefully, Marvin, his family and the people around him realize that.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

No. 22 Cincinnati’s loss to No. 16 Butler shines light on AAC’s struggles

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 10: Head coach Mick Cronin of the Cincinnati Bearcats reacts against the Butler Bulldogs in the first half of the game at Hinkle Fieldhouse on December 10, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Kelan Martin scored 20 points and Andrew Chrabascz added 12 points, four boards and five assists as No. 16 Butler bounced back from a tough loss at Indiana State to beat No. 22 Cincinnati, 75-65.

The Bulldogs had been undefeated on the season prior to the loss to the Sycamores, but their ranking was built on the fact that they had beaten Arizona, who was No. 8 at the time, as well as a trio of high-major programs that look destined for the NIT.

Cincinnati probably isn’t destined for the NIT. Their top 25 ranking is justified, which is what makes this win valuable. Quality non-conference wins matter, and this is just one of a handful of good wins for what has proven to be one of the most top-heavy conferences in the country. Villanova, Creighton, Xavier and Butler all look capable of reaching the Sweet 16 this season.

The opposite is true for Cincinnati, who look like the flag-bearer in a conference that isn’t really all that good. They’re the best team in the AAC this season, but that’s a conference that has consistently disappointed this year. SMU, Temple and UConn have all struggled more than we expected them to. Tulsa and Memphis are in rebuilding mode. Houston was supposed to be good this season but they’ve yet to live up to the preseason hype.

Think about it like this: The only team in the AAC without multiple losses on the season is now UCF. That’s … not ideal, and it’s going to be interesting to see just how many bids the league is able to generate.

Think about it. Temple has beaten West Virginia and Florida State while losing to New Hampshire and UMass. SMU’s best win is either Pitt or TCU, both of whom are borderline tournament teams. UConn beat Syracuse but has some atrocious losses on their resume. Houston beat Rhode Island but lost to Arkansas and LSU. Memphis beat Iowa, but Iowa’s not all that good. UCF’s best win is … Mississippi State?

Cincinnati’s lone quality win is at Iowa State, who is about to drop out of the top 25.

POSTERIZED: Wichita State’s Daishon Smith dunks on Oklahoma big man

WICHITA, KS - NOVEMBER 13:  Guard Daishon Smith of the Wichita State Shockers drives up court past forward Roschon Prince #23 of the Long Beach State 49ers during the first half on November 13, 2016 at Charles Koch Arena in Wichita, Kansas.  (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
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Daishon Smith is 6-foot-1.

Kristian Doolittle is 6-foot-7.

The lil guy won this battle:

Here’s another angle of the dunk, which sent Wichita State’s bench into hysterics:

POSTERIZED: Duke’s Grayson Allen with a Dunk of the Year candidate (VIDEO)

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It looks like Grayson Allen’s toe is healthy. I’d say his explosivness is back:

Whoa.

Yeah.

POSTERIZED: Five-star Class of 2017 guard Trevon Duval dunks on 6’8″ defender

CHARLOTTE, NC - JULY 9: Trevon Duval during the 2015  Under Armour All-America Basketball Camp on July 9, 2015 at Queens College in Charlotte, NC. (Photo by Ned Dishman/Under Armour)
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Class of 2017 point guard Trevon Duval put down a huge poster dunk on a 6’8″ defender on Saturday as the five-star prospect showed why many consider him the top lead guard in high school basketball.

The 6-foot-2 Duval is considered the No. 3 overall prospect in the Class of 2017 by Rivals.

Nigel Hayes shines against as No. 17 Wisconsin beats Marquette

MILWAUKEE, WI - DECEMBER 10:  Nigel Hayes #10 of the Wisconsin Badgers is fouled by Luke Fischer #40 of the Marquette Golden Eagles during the first half of a game at the BMO Harris Bradley Center on December 10, 2016 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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What a difference a year makes.

Last season at this time, Wisconsin dropped a home game to a Marquette team that was headed to the NIT.

This year?

The Badgers put six players in double-figures as they went into Milwaukee and knocked off Marquette, 93-84.

Bronson Koenig continued his hot shooting, finishing with 18 points and six assists while shooting 4-for-6 from beyond the arc. Vitto Brown chipped in with 15 points, Khalil Iverson had 16 and Ethan Happ chipped in with 11 despite battling foul trouble all afternoon.

But the really story here – hell, the story of Wisconsin’s season to date – has been the change in the way that Nigel Hayes plays.

Hayes was terrific again on Saturday. He had 17 points, nine boards, four assists and three steals. He shot 6-for-10 from the floor and attempted just a pair of threes, making one of them. He had the ball in his hands when Wisconsin was trying to kill off the game, and, more importantly, head coach Greg Gard has seem to start to take advantage of just how good Hayes can be as a facilitator.

There are a couple of points that need to be made here:

  1. When Hayes plays like this, he deserves to be in the all-american discussion. He’s averaging 18.0 points, 7.3 boards and 6.7 assists in the three games Wisconsin has played against high-major competition since the change, and the Badgers have won five straight games while playing easily their best basketball of the season.
  2. And it’s not just because of the numbers he puts up. When Hayes operates as Wisconsin’s de-facto point guard, it makes everyone else on the roster better. For starters, it allows Koenig to play off the ball, where he seems to be more effective. He’s at his best when he’s hunting shots and trying to create off the bounce, but his aggressiveness can be detrimental when he’s the only one touching the ball. It also means offense runs through Happ more often since Koenig isn’t dominating possession, and it lets guys like Brown space the floor because they’re actually able to get rhythm threes.

As of today, Wisconsin is the favorite to win the Big Ten, even if Indiana is far more likely to end up being a No. 1 seed in March.