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Four Things We Learned From Peach Jam: From Marvin Bagley III to the Death of the Tweener

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NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. — Marvin Bagley III is probably going to end up playing college basketball this season.

Peach Jam, which is typically the best event on the club basketball circuit in the spring and the summer, lacked any of the buzz that we are used to seeing and hearing about, but it made up for it with what could end up being season-defining news for a top ten team.

Here are the basics to get you caught up: Bagley is a 6-foot-11 combo-forward and arguably the best prospect in the world that is not currently on an NBA roster. He also turned 18 years old in March — meaning he is old for his grade — and would be eligible for the 2018 NBA Draft if he could find a way to graduate from high school prior to the start of the 2017-18 school year.

On Friday, NBC Sports reported that the Bagley family is in the processing of determining whether or not it is actually possible for Marvin to enroll in college this fall. Members of two staffs currently recruiting Bagley have since told NBC Sports that it is doable, and there is a growing expectation that Bagley will do his one-and-done season in 2017-18. His father, speaking to FanRag Sports, went with the dismissive non-denial when asked over the weekend: “Hey, ask the guy who started the rumor, they know more than what I can tell you. You should probably ask CBS Sports; it seems like they know more than I know. That’s my answer, ask CBS Sports.”

The question then becomes eligibility, and it’s two-fold: The first part is collegiate eligibility. Will he make it through the NCAA’s eligibility clearinghouse in time for the start of the season, and while that is big news or whoever ends up getting him, it is more or less irrelevant for Bagley himself. The reason this is something the family is going to try to do is to get him eligible for the NBA Draft a year early. He’s old enough, he just needs to be a season removed from his high school graduation. If he earns that diploma but misses the first six weeks of the season while waiting to be cleared, he’ll still get picked next June.

Which means he’ll get his first NBA paycheck at 19.

Which means he’ll get his first NBA extension at 23.

Which means he’ll be eligible to get max-level extensions at 28 and 33 instead of 29 and 34.

That extra year of earning power at the end of his career combined with the fact that those contracts will come a year earlier could end up being worth in the mid-eight figures if Bagley lives up to his potential.

So where will Bagley end up playing?

Marvin Bagley III (Photo by Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images)

He told reporters at Peach Jam that he will be taking his official visit to Duke this week — he’s an Arizona native playing for a Southern California high school team — and will also take officials to USC and Arizona. Kentucky, Kansas and UCLA are also in the mix, but they aren’t considered to be leaders. Bagley has the potential to be an all-american in college this season, and he would fit perfectly as a small-ball four at Duke in the Jayson Tatum role, alongside Deandre Ayton at Arizona or in USC’s high-octane, uptempo offense.

If you forced me to bet my life on where Bagley will end up playing next season, it would be at Duke.


IF BAGLEY RECLASSIFIES, IS ANYONE IN 2018 WORTH BEING EXCITED ABOUT: Bagley is far and away the best prospect in the Class of 2018, and while much of that is because he’s awesome, the truth is that there really isn’t all that much talent in 2018.

Zion Williamson is as thrilling of an athlete as you’ll ever see, but there are real concerns about just how much of a basketball player he is. Bol Bol is a 7-foot-3 shot-blocker with three-point range, but anyone questioning his motor and his toughness is justified. Cam Reddish, Romeo Langford, Moses Brown, Jordan Brown. These are good players, but after seeing the talent at the top of the 2016 and 2017 classes, this is a drop-off.


COACHES RECRUIT TWEENERS NOW: As recently as five or six years ago, the label “tweener” was dreaded in basketball circles. If a player wasn’t quite big enough to guard fours or quick enough to guards threes, or if a ball-handler was just a little too score-first, or if a shot-blocker was just a little too concerned with shooting threes, it was a negative.

One top 25 head coach put it to me like this:

Before, the question was, “Who are they going to guard at the next level?”

The question now, however, is, “How is anyone going to guard them?”

Bol Bol (Jon Lopez/Nike)

I’m working on a larger piece that will come out later this month on how the increasingly-positionless and pace-and-space oriented ‘Modern NBA’ is changing the way that basketball at the lower level is being played, and one of the keys, according to coaches that I spoke to, is how talent is evaluated before the college level. Bol Bol is the perfect example. One the defensive end of the floor, he can protect the rim with the best of them. Offensively, he shot 44.1 percent from three on 59 attempts and 82.4 percent from the free throw line in 19 EYBL games. Not only is he a human eraser on one end of the floor, but his ability to shoot creates space in the lane by pulling his rim-protecting counterpart away from the basket.

Those particular set of skills make him incredibly valuable, whereas in the past, the fact that he doesn’t have much of a post game, he isn’t all that strong in the paint, his motor tends to run hot and cold and he loves standing around the three-point line waiting to jack up a three would all be red flags.

Jontay Porter, Michael Porter Jr.’s “little” brother who is 6-foot-10, 240 pounds and expected to enroll at Missouri this fall, is another prime example. He’s 6-foot-11 and 240 pounds, yet he’s a guy that thrives with his ability to play on the perimeter, whether it’s his ability to shoot, make plays off the bounce or pass the ball. Two coaches raved about the way that Simi Shittu — a 6-foot-9, 220 pound combo-forward with an athletic, muscular build — led the break himself after grabbing defensive rebounds. He can handle the ball and pass, and letting him get a defensive rebound and go makes the transition game that much more efficient; finding a point guard for an outlet pass is a thing of the past.


PEACH JAM IS STILL THE BEST: The place is getting a little bit overcrowded — if you’re a media member and you don’t get to a seat at Court 3 or 4 early for a game, you won’t be getting into the gym — but when was the last time you saw a summer basketball event with a crowd like this?:

Photo by Jon Lopez/Nike

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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INDIANAPOLIS — With the coronavirus pandemic already forcing changes for college basketball, a bubble may be brewing in Indianapolis.

Indiana Sports Corp. released a 16-page proposal Friday that calls for turning the city convention center’s exhibition halls and meeting rooms into basketball courts and locker rooms. There would be expansive safety measures and daily COVID-19 testing.

The all-inclusive price starts at $90,000 per team and would cover 20 hotel rooms per traveling party, testing, daily food vouchers ranging from $30-$50 and the cost of game officials. Sports Corp. President Ryan Vaughn said the price depends on what offerings teams or leagues choose.

“The interest has been high,” Vaughn said. “I think as conferences figure out what conference and non-conference schedules are going to look like, we’re we’re a very good option for folks. I would tell you we’ve had conversations with the power six conferences, mid-majors, it’s really kind of all over the Division I spectrum.”

Small wonder: The NCAA this week announced teams could start ramping up workouts Monday, with preseason practices set to begin Oct. 14. Season openers, however, were pushed back to Nov. 25 amid wide-ranging uncertainty about campus safety and team travel in the pandemic.

There is already scrambling going on and some of the marquee early-season tournaments have already been impacted.

The Maui Invitational will be moved from Hawaii to Asheville, North Carolina, with dates still to be determined and organizers clear that everyone involved “will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.” The Batttle 4 Atlantis has been canceled. The Cancun Challenge will be held in Melbourne, Florida, not Mexico.

More changes almost certainly will be coming, including what to do with the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

“I think we’re past the guesswork on whether we play 20 conference games or more than that,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said Friday. “We’re trying to get everybody set like in terms of MTEs (multi-team events), figuring out when to play the ACC-Big Ten challenge.”

Painter, who was part of the NCAA committee that recommended how to start the season, noted part of the uncertainty stems from differing protocols imposed by campus, city and state officials.

In Indianapolis, Vaughn believes the convention center, nearby hotels, restaurants and downtown businesses, many within walking distance of the venue, could safely accommodate up to 24 teams. The 745,000-square foot facility would feature six basketball courts and two competition courts.

Anyone entering the convention center would undergo saliva-based rapid response testing, which would be sent to a third-party lab for results. Others venues could be added, too, potentially with more fans, if the case numbers decline.

If there is a taker, the event also could serve as a dry run for the 2021 Final Four, also slated for Indy.

“It’s not going to hurt,” Vaughn said. “I can tell you all the planning we’re doing right now is the same for a Final Four that’s been scheduled here for any other year. But it would be nice to have this experience under our belt to see if it can be done.”

Maui Invitational moving to North Carolina during pandemic

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The Maui Invitational is moving to the mainland during the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the premier preseason tournaments on the college basketball schedule, the Maui Invitational will be played at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

Dates for the tournament announced Friday have yet to be finalized. The NCAA announced Wednesday that the college basketball season will begin Nov. 25.

This year’s Maui Invitational field includes Alabama, Davidson, Indiana, North Carolina, Providence, Stanford, Texas and UNLV.

All teams, staff, officials, and personnel will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.

Burton eligible at Texas Tech after 2 seasons at Wichita State

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
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LUBBOCK, Texas — Junior guard Jamarius Burton has been granted a waiver from the NCAA that makes him eligible to play this season for Texas Tech after starting 52 games the past two seasons for Wichita State.

Texas Tech coach Chris Beard announced the waiver Thursday, which came five months after Burton signed with the Big 12 team.

Burton has two seasons of eligibility remaining, as well as a redshirt season he could utilize. He averaged 10.3 points and 3.4 assists per game as a sophomore at Wichita State, where he played 67 games overall.

Burton is from Charlotte. He helped lead Independence High School to a 31-1 record and the North Carolina Class 4A state championship as a senior there.

NCAA season set to open day before Thanksgiving

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The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball season will begin on Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving.

The Division I Council voted Wednesday to push the start date back from the originally scheduled Nov. 10 as one of several precautions against the spread of coronavirus.

The later start date coincides with the decision most schools made to send students home from Thanksgiving until January out of concern about a potential late-fall and early-winter flareup of COVID-19. Closed campuses could serve as a quasi bubble for players and provide a window for non-conference games.

The maximum number of regular-season games has been reduced from 31 to 27. The minimum number of games for consideration for the NCAA Tournament was cut from 25 to 13.

Teams can start preseason practices Oct. 14 but will be allowed to work out 12 hours per week beginning Monday.

No scrimmages against other teams or exhibitions are allowed.

In other action, the council voted to extend the recruiting dead period for all sports through Dec. 31. In-person recruiting is not allowed during a dead period, though phone calls and other correspondence are allowed.

The men’s and women’s basketball oversight committees had jointly recommended a start date of Nov. 21, which would have allowed for games to be played on the weekend before Thanksgiving. The council opted not to do that to avoid a conflict with regular-season football games.

The council is scheduled to meet again Oct. 13-14 and could delay the start date and change other pieces of the basketball framework if circumstances surrounding the virus warrant.

UConn’s Tyrese Martin granted waiver to play this season

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn swingman Tyrese Martin, who transferred from Rhode Island in April, has been granted a waiver that will allow him to play for the Huskies this season.

The 6-foot-6 junior averaged 12.8 points and 7.1 rebounds and started every game last season for URI, where he was recruited by current UConn coach Dan Hurley.

NCAA rules require undergraduate transfers to sit out a season, but the organization has been more lenient in granting waivers during the pandemic.

Martin, 21, is expected to compete for playing time at UConn on the wing as both a guard and small forward.