Rivals Roundtable: More on Marvin Bagley's big decisions
1. Coming off the news of Duke going to California to land Bagley, which school recruits every corner of America the best, regardless of region?
ERIC BOSSI: The obvious answers here are Arizona, Duke, Kansas and Kentucky because the brands they've established let them recruit locally, regionally, across the country and even internationally. I really like what Dana Altman has done at Oregon in terms of building from the West Coast and then using transfers, jucos and international players to expand the Ducks' reach. Shaka Smart is off to a great start at Texas in terms of growing the Longhorns' reach, although they've not yet gotten onto the West Coast.
But, if I had to settle on one that people might not immediately think of it would be John Beilein at Michigan. Of course he's done a good job of building regionally with players from Michigan, Ohio and Indiana, but he's landed some Canadians too. He's gone out to California and brought in guys such as D.J. Wilson and developed them into draft picks. He's hit Oregon, he's hit Florida and he's come up big across the pond going to Germany to land Moritz Wagner. At Michigan, it's all about recruiting to a style of play and developing guys, and that staff has proven that it can supplement the regional talent with guys from all over the United States and even the world.
COREY EVANS: Kentucky and Duke have become the mavericks of the recruiting world and nothing has changed in recent months, but Arizona is another program that has done a phenomenal job of touching every part of the nation when it comes to securing elite talent. In the 2017 class, the Wildcats hit the states of Arizona, California, Utah and Pennsylvania. The previous year, it was Georgia, North Carolina, Kansas and a one-and-done from Finland known as Lauri Markkanen. We didn’t even talk about Terrance Ferguson, the one-time Arizona pledge that decided to instead play in Australia before heading to the NBA.
Already this year, Sean Miller and his crew have solidified top-50 commitments from California and New Jersey. If it is one thing we know now, it is that the Pac-12 juggernaut will go anywhere and beat anyone for the best talent that the nation, or better yet, the world has to provide.
DAN MCDONALD: I don't know how anybody could argue against Duke if we're just talking about the last few years. Marvin Bagley comes from the West Coast. The Blue Devils took Jahlil Okafor and Jabari Parker out of Chicago. Now they have a second Jones brother along with Gary Trent coming from Minnesota. They crushed it in Georgia this year with Wendell Carter, Alex O'Connell and Jordan Tucker, who is originally from New York. Coach K also had a stretch where he hit Texas hard and had a ton of success.
Any time a school recruits against Duke, it's a problem no matter what part of the United States it is. Arizona and Kentucky have both been scary on the recruiting trail too, but I'm giving the nod to Duke here.
KRYSTEN PEEK: When you look at Kansas' roster you see a handful of different states and countries represented. Coach Bill Self and his staff have done a great job landing talent regardless of location. In the past few years they've landed No. 1 players Andrew Wiggins from West Virginia (originally from Canada) and Josh Jackson, who grew up in Detroit and played high school ball in Napa, Calif. Looking at key players this year and going further outside the United States, Svi Mykhailiuk is from the Ukraine and Udoka Azubuike is from Nigeria. Somehow Kansas finds a way to bring all these players from different regions together and it has strong teams year after year.
2. How do you see the race for No. 1 in 2018 now without Bagley in the class playing out?
ERIC BOSSI: When Bagley moved to 2017, we wasted no time in elevating R.J. Barrett to the No. 1 spot. Is the athletic and tough wing from Canada a lock to stay in the top spot? No. But, I don't think he'll be easy to displace either. He can handle, he has great size, his game is versatile and when it matters the most – such as at the Fiba U18 World Championships – he comes up biggest. Zion Williamson, Cameron Reddish and Bol Bol are going to be his stiffest competition but in my mind, Barrett is a pretty strong No. 1 in 2018.
COREY EVANS: Barrett now sits atop the 2018 Rivals150. Coming off a phenomenal session at the FIBA under-19 World Cup where scored 37 points in an upset victory over the United States, it would be difficult to throw shade at the Canadian’s achievements. While I do see Barrett hanging on the rest of the way to his No. 1 ranking, I still remain on the Zion Williamson bandwagon. Questions remain as to how his game will translate to the next level, but seeing that the class of 2018 is not the strongest, the fact that Williamson remains so utterly dominant against the nation’s elite must be kept in mind. Sure, Williamson is an undersized forward that lacks a right hand and a consistent jump shot but he is also a unique prospect that the prep ranks has not seen for some time. It is lefty versus lefty and the race should continue to remain that way until next summer.
DAN MCDONALD: It's Barrett, and not really too close for me. Barrett going into 2018 would have made it tight at the top for me if Bagley had stayed in the class, and if it were totally my call, I would probably give him the nod over Bagley. He's that good. The way he dominated for the Canada national team this summer was something special. He has the look of a future No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft and longtime star in the NBA. I'm not sure I can say that about anybody else in the 2018 class with Bagley gone.
KRYSTEN PEEK: I know right now we have Barrett as the No. 1 player in 2018 but I really think Bol Bol could make a run for that spot. Every time I see Bol play, he's improved an aspect of his game whether it's his outside shot, his handle or rebounding. With a 7-foot-8 wingspan, he's always been a good shot blocker but I've been most impressed with the way he's developed the rest of his game. Arizona, USC, UCLA, Kansas and Kentucky are just a few of the programs making Bol a priority. The 7-foot-2 center will play his senior season at Mater Dei High School in Southern California.
3. If you ranked the 2017, 2018 and 2019 classes together, who would be your personal overall No. 1?
ERIC BOSSI: This has been a topic with a lot of discussion over the past few days and I still go with our 2017 No. 1 Michael Porter Jr. While I can see why some would lean toward Marvin Bagley, Porter is too good a fit for the direction of the game and too skilled to pass on. He is pushing 6-foot-10, has very good athleticism, fills up all areas of the stat sheet and he can do it playing as a jumbo wing or as a faceup/stretch four-man. That versatility combined with extreme production and the proven ability to win and elevate the play of those around him make him my No. 1.
COREY EVANS: Maybe I am sipping the Kool-Aid, but I just fail to see anyone better than Marvin Bagley, regardless of classification. He is the best prospect that I have had the chance to watch and evaluate within the past five years with a healthy Harry Giles coming in as a close second. On the Nike EYBL circuit this summer, Bagley averaged more than 25 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks per game. I have never believed in NBA franchises tanking for a prospect, but if Bagley does not have transcendent abilities, I am unsure of who does. I get why some may favor Michael Porter, DeAndre Ayton, RJ Barrett and a handful of others but Bagley is just too good. He is the ideal power forward in today’s game and is someone who has yet to even touch his basketball ceiling. On Monday evening, Duke received the pledge of the best talent that is not on an NBA roster.
DAN MCDONALD: I'd probably lean toward Barrett though slightly over Porter because I love bucket-getters with length on the wing. Barrett scores it at a higher level than the other two and he still does so many other things well. As I mentioned above, he has NBA All-Star written all over him based on what I've seen. Porter and Bagley could be there too, but Barrett has the best long-term potential.
KRYSTEN PEEK: Even though Marvin Bagley reclassified, I'm still going with Michael Porter Jr. as the No. 1 player overall in 2017, 2018 and 2019. This summer we saw Bagley play in The Drew League and Porter dropped 47 points in Jamal Crawford's The Crawsover Pro Am. Both players are high on everyone's radar for the No. 1 pick in next year's NBA Draft but I'm going to give the edge to Porter, whose outside shot is a little more polished then Bagley's. Fans can only dream of a Duke vs. Missouri matchup this postseason.