Marvin Bagley III, nation’s top prospect, to announce college decision Monday night

Marvin Bagley (Jon Lopez/Nike)
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The best basketball prospect in America will be announcing where — and when — he will be playing his college basketball late on Monday night.

Marvin Bagley, who is currently the top prospect in the Class of 2018, will not only be announcing where he intends to play in college, but he will also be announcing whether or not he will be enrolling in college as a member of the Class of 2017. The three schools that are the finalists for the Arizona-native are Duke, USC and UCLA. He visited all three programs within the last four weeks. Bagley is currently living in Southern California but his family has roots in Durham, North Carolina.

Sources told NBC Sports that the staffs recruiting Bagley were not told of his decision as of Sunday night.

Bagley’s story is fairly well known at this point. He’s far and away the best prospect in the Class of 2018, but he’s also old enough that, should he graduate high school prior to the start of the 2017 NBA season, he’ll be eligible for the 2018 NBA Draft, where he’d be in the mix for the No. 1 overall pick with Missouri freshman Michael Porter Jr. and Arizona freshman Deandre Ayton.

And that, in the end, is the goal for Bagley, sources told NBC Sports: getting drafted next June. It means he gets NBA paychecks a year earlier and is a year younger when, after his second NBA contract, he would theoretically be up for one of the massive contracts the current CBA allows. It would also mean that, at the back-end of Bagley’s career, he’ll be signing his final contract a year earlier and he’ll get an extra season of big money salary on the back-end. It’s not an exaggeration to say that, over the course of his professional career, getting into the draft a year early could be worth in the mid-eight figures.

Whether or not Bagley is able to play in college it is secondary to ensuring that he does, in fact, get eligible for the 2018 draft. Sources told NBC Sports that the process for getting Bagley eligible to reclassify was started months ago and that he should be able to reclassify if he wants to, although the final decision will be left up to the NCAA.