basketball Edit

Marcus Bagley exits draft, will return to ASU

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

This has been a hellish offseason for Arizona State basketball. Continuity was thrown to the wolves, forcing coach Bobby Hurley to navigate the transfer portal in order to fill his 2021 roster.

Josh Christopher and Alonzo Verge are likely headed to the draft. Taeshon Cherry and Holland Woods are off to GCU. Remy Martin is now a Jayhawk. Jaelen House will be a defensive pest for New Mexico. Heck, 2020 ASU assistants Rashon Burno and Anthony Coleman won’t be in Tempe next season.

But, on Wednesday, the Sun Devils finally received a piece of good news. After testing the NBA Draft waters, forward Marcus Bagley announced he’s returning to Arizona State for his sophomore season with a Twitter video captioned “Run it back.”


As a highly-touted five-star prospect out of Sacramento, injuries hampered Bagley’s freshman campaign but the 6-foot-8, 215-pound small forward averaged 10.8 points and 6.2 rebounds in a dozen appearances.

Still – following in the path of his grandfather, ASU great Joe Caldwell, and his older brother, former No. 2 overall pick Marcus Bagley III – Bagley decided to put his name into the 2021 NBA Draft.

Instead, he’ll spend 2021 a part of an Arizona State team that only returns three key contributors in Bagley, junior Jalen Graham and graduate Kimani Lawrence. (Ohio State transfer Luther Muhammad practiced with the Sun Devils last season but was forced to sit out because of NCAA transfer rules.)

Bagley’s return now means ASU has 13 scholarship players on its 2021 roster, which is technically the limit. But, like with Chase Lucas in football, because of the eligibility freeze, Lawrence’s scholarship won’t count towards the Sun Devils total, which means Hurley still has room to add one more piece before the season tips off.

Marvin Bagley Jr. said that his son not experiencing anything close to a normal basketball season due to Covid-19 did cause Marcus to want to get that full experience which can naturally elevate his NBA stock for next year's draft. Marvin Bailey Jr. noted the family heard from numerous schools including Oregon, USC and NC State, which were courting the freshman once he entered the transfer portal.

Ultimately, though, the strong relationship he had with ASU's head coach convinced The freshman forward that returning back to Tempe was going to be the best option for him if he did decide to play one more year of college basketball.

"Bobby Hurley is the number one reason why Marcus came back to ASU. Bobby Hurley's character... They don't make them like that anymore. Bobby supported him when he entered the NBA draft and he supported him when he entered the transfer portal. His great relationship with (Hurley) is the reason why he's coming back to Arizona State."

All that is music to the ears of Sun Devil fans, who were heavily disappointed by the Sun Devils’ 11-14 record last season. The combination of Bagley and Christopher had brought about Sweet Sixteen-level expectations for Hurley’s squad and, instead, the duo combined to play in just 27 games and record nine 15+ point outings.

Bagley was impressive while on the court for ASU as a freshman. But now he’ll have another chance to prove his skills throughout a full season – one where he may be the Sun Devils No. 1 offensive weapon.