Duke Blue Devils

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Duke’s Marvin Bagley III drops rap single

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Marvin Bagley III’s credentials are impressive. He was the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2018 until he reclassified to 2017, where many still pegged him as the top player. He dominated the EYBL circuit, averaging 25.8 points, 14.9 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game. He’s a potential No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA draft.

He’s also an alright rapper.

The 6-foot-11 Duke freshman released a song this week entitled, ‘Breathe,’ apparently a nod to the Fabulous song of the same title that Bagley uses the beat from to rap over.

Pretty solid stuff from Bagley, whose Blue Devils will open the season ranked No. 1 in The Associated Press Top 25. The hoop-stars-turned-rappers track record isn’t exactly a resounding success (shoutout to ‘Shaq Diesel’), but maybe Bagley’s got a chance.

 

Duke recruit Bagley hoping to play in the 2017-18 season

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Marvin Bagley III, widely considered the top recruit in the class of 2018, reclassified this week and could be eligible to play for Duke in the upcoming season.

His decision immediately thrusts the Blue Devils toward the front of the national-title conversation for the 2017-18 season.

But what exactly does it mean to reclassify and how does the process work?

According to the NCAA, all incoming student-athletes must complete 16 core courses from a list that includes English, math, natural or physical science, social science, foreign language, comparative religion or philosophy. Classes such as physical education, health and music do not count as core courses, nor do remedial classes or classes completed through credit-by-exam.

The student-athlete must also show proof of graduation from high school and have an ACT/SAT test score that corresponds to his or her core course GPA on a sliding scale; the higher the GPA, the lower the standardized test score needs to be.

The NCAA eligibility center’s amateurism team then determines whether to certify a student-athlete. The process and requirements are the same for every sport.

Bagley is scheduled to graduate from Southern California’s Sierra Canyon High School later this month, completing his course work a year ahead of schedule. His transcripts may be a little more complicated because he attended three different high schools and the NCAA will review his final transcript following his graduation to determine if he is eligible to play Division I basketball.

Bagley’s move is not unprecedented.

Through the years, five-star prospects who want to get a jump on their college careers — and potentially professional careers — have gone through the same process, though usually not right before the fall semester begins as Bagley did.

Mike Gminski is considered the leave-high-school-early originator, graduating a year early so he could play at Duke in 1976. He went on to become an All-American and played 17 NBA seasons.

In recent years, Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins, North Carolina State’s Dennis Smith Jr., Duke’s Derryck Thornton and Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns were among the student-athletes who graduated early to play college basketball sooner. Kentucky’s Hamidou Diallo graduated a semester early and joined the Wildcats in January last season, but did not play. He declared for the NBA draft before deciding to return to Lexington.

Jontay Porter reclassified this year so he could play a year early with his brother, top recruit Michael, at Missouri. Canadian guard R.J. Barrett, considered the top recruit in 2019, has reclassified so he can graduate in 2018.

“With AAU and year-round competition basically, a lot of the players are ready for college-level play at an earlier age,” Gminski told WRAL in Raleigh, North Carolina, in 2015. “And most of these guys have been around a lot. They do a lot of traveling. They tend to mature pretty fast.”

Early graduation in football became popular in the early 2000s, though they typically only do it a semester early to enroll in college for the spring semester and participate in spring practices.

Baseball player Bryce Harper left his Las Vegas high school after his sophomore season and earned his GED so he could start playing professional baseball sooner. He played one season for the College of Southern Nevada and was taken with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 MLB draft by the Washington Nationals.

An opposite trend has started playing out in recent years, with parents holding their kids back a year so they can become bigger, stronger and more polished — some as early as middle school. Many top-tier recruits hold off going to college for a year, instead playing for elite prep schools after graduation for more seasoning and exposure.

Bagley opted for the get-to-college-early route, changing the landscape in college basketball in the process

Duke officially adds Marvin Bagley III

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Duke made one of the biggest recruiting moves of the year official Tuesday.

The Blue Devils announced that Marvin Bagley has formally reclassified from 2018 to 2017 and will join Duke for the upcoming season.

“Marvin is a special basketball talent and a tremendous young man,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said in a statement. “He is completely dedicated to his improvement as both a player and student and, given his family’s deep history in this area, he is fully aware of what it means to be part of Duke University. We’re thrilled to add Marvin to our program.”

Bagley’s history in the area comes from his father, who is a Durham native and played football collegiately at North Carolina A&T.

Duke’s official announcement comes just a day after Bagley committed to the Blue Devils and said he planned to enroll in the fall semester.

Bagley, who was the top-ranked player in 2018 and is considered by many now the top 2017 prospect and potential No. 1 NBA draft pick next summer,  makes Duke the presumptive No. 1 preseason team as he joins a highly-touted recruiting class for Coach K that was previously headlined by Wendell Carter, Jr., Trevon Duval and Gary Trent, Jr.

The 6-foot-11 Bagley averaged 25.8 points, 14.9 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game while playing in the EYBL this summer.

Did Utah Valley schedule the toughest 24 hours in college basketball?

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Utah Valley released its non-conference schedule early this week, billing it as, “the toughest 24 hours in NCAA basketball history.” That’s not really an exaggeration either.

The Wolverines open the 2017-18 season against Kentucky on Friday, Nov. 11 in Lexington. Less than 24 hours later, they will be prepping for a matchup with Duke inside Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Wildcats and Blue Devils are both pegged as top-5 teams entering next season.

“This is what college basketball is supposed to be,” Utah Valley head coach Mark Pope said in a statement. “We couldn’t be more excited to go out and play two of the best teams in the entire country in a 24-hour period. Our goal is to be the best team we can possibly be at the end of the season. We had great success with that last year and part of doing that is putting together the hardest non-conference schedule we can and we’ve accomplished that.”

Utah Valley finished 17-17 (6-8 WAC) last year but did close out the 2016-17 campaign strong by winning six of its last eight, reaching the College Basketball Invitational semifinals. The Wolverines return three double-digit scorers, including Conner Toolson, who led them in scoring at 11.9 points per game, as well as top rebounder and shot blocker Isaac Neilson.

Still, they figure to a tomato can for two heavyweights in their first two bouts. Nevertheless, Pope and his program should gain some considerable attention for this scheduling. Utah Valley will likely be on television (or at least be available for streaming) for both contests. The only time I can recall the Wolverines even getting national mention last season was when CSU Bakersfield needed four overtimes to get past them in the WAC semifinals. For Pope, it also shows recruits two things: a. we aren’t afraid to play anyone and b. while you may not be the five-star recruit you hoped for, you will likely play in some of the cathedrals of college basketball in your four years in Orem.

The season opener will be a homecoming of sorts for Pope. He played for Kentucky from 1994-96 and was a member of a national championship team as a senior.

Report: Frank Jackson planning on returning to Duke

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Hours after the program announced that Grayson Allen would be back at Duke for his senior season, it was reported that another guard was expected to return.

Gary Parrish of CBS Sports reported that Frank Jackson is planning on coming back for his sophomore season. This has been an eventful offseason for the Blue Devils. Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles, and Luke Kennard have all declared for the draft and will sign with agents. Chase Jeter and Sean Obi have elected to transfer and Marques Bolden, like Allen, has decided not to test the NBA draft waters and will remain in Durham for 2017-18.

Jackson helps solves point guard concerns for Duke next season. Without him, you’re likely looking at Allen shouldering the ball-handling duties. Playing out of position this past season was one of the factors in a disappointing junior campaign for the All-American. Of course, a better answer to Duke’s point guard questions would be Trevon Duval, the top unsigned senior in the Class of 2017. The Blue Devils are among the five teams he’s considering.

Allen and Jackson will anchor a backcourt that will bring in, as it stands now, Gary Trent Jr. and Alex O’Connell. The best recruit of that crop is big man Wendell Carter Jr.

Jackson averaged 10.9 points and 2.5 assists per game this past season.

Bolden returning to Duke

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Marques Bolden will spend his sophomore season at Duke.

The one-time five-star prospect will return for a second collegiate season in Durham, rebutting a previous report to the contrary, the school announced Monday.

“Despite rumors about my future that have circulated in recent days, I’m excited to announce that I’ll be returning to Duke for my sophomore year,” Bolden said in a statement released by Duke. “I have unbelievable support from my family, teammates and coaches. I’m ready to get to work for next season and I’m excited for what should be a great year for our program.”

There was a report that circulated Sunday that Bolden would look to transfer after a freshman season that saw him rarely crack the Blue Devils’ lineup. Instead, he’ll give it a second-go round under coach Mike Krzyzewski.

“We’re thrilled that Marques will continue to be part of our program,” Krzyzewski said in a statement. “In addition to being a talented basketball player, he’s an outstanding young man from a great family. It’s unfortunate that his freshman season was impacted by injury, but he has an opportunity to have a great summer and a special sophomore season.”

Bolden was considered by many as the top center in the 2016 class and was a consensus top-20 recruit. He was hampered early by a leg injury, and then he struggled to get much playing time for the Blue Devils. He averaged just 6.5 minutes per game and played in just 24 total contests.

Duke is adding another five-star big man to its roster next season with 6-foot-10 Wendell Carter, a top-10 consensus player, signed as part of the Blue Devils’ 2017 class.