VOICES The Decision: Marvin Bagley III Edition

Dragon at Chinese Lunar New Year in 2014. (Wikimedia Commons)

A comprehensive list of pros and cons for the future NCAA superstar to consider

Marvin Bagley III is a very good basketball player, and he knows it. Instead of choosing to dominate high school competition for another year, he has decided to reclassify into the incoming NCAA freshman class. While the NCAA hasn’t released a statement regarding Bagley’s reclassification status, the high school phenom’s scheduled Sportscenter appearance for tonight suggests that the NCAA’s approval is set in stone.

It has been reported that Bagley’s four schools he is considering are Duke, USC, UCLA, and Arizona. He is a Phoenix native, which may factor into his preference towards Western schools such as USC, UCLA, and Arizona. However, his admiration towards Duke may be solely a result of the program’s prestigious reputation, history, and head coach, Mike Krzyzewski.

When you are 6’11 with long arms, agile feet, and the skills of an NBA wing you are going to be pursued by every college in the nation, which has clearly been the case for Bagley. While some may argue that Duke is the clear choice for Bagley due to their documented success, there are key factors that many common fans may not be considering when discussing this impending decision. But Marvin Bagley III is smarter than the average college basketball fan, which is why this list of pros and cons has most likely consumed the 18-year-old’s thought process throughout the summer.



  • Would be the sure-fire number one option for the Trojans
  • A good supporting cast to surround him with (Derryck Thornton, Bennie Boatwright, Elijah Stewart, etc.)
  • L.A. media market
  • Opportunity to put USC’s basketball program back on the national map


  • His addition likely doesn’t make USC a top ten team
  • Chance of low efficiency as a result of ample amount of defensive attention centered around him
  • Unless the team is great, Bagley will have to put up incredible stats to remain in the conversation as the top NBA prospect

Verdict: Bagley has likely studied the most recent NBA drafts and noticed that the previous #1 picks, Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz, both played for teams with losing records. While USC shouldn’t find themselves with a losing record in 2018, it isn’t probable that Bagley would boost the University of Southern California into the elite stratosphere of college basketball. However, what should be on the top of his list of priorities is choosing the situation that best aides his draft stock, which could very well be USC. If he can put up double-double nightly numbers, Bagley would not be making a mistake in choosing to be a Trojan.



  • Arizona will be a contender for the national championship next season
  • Sean Miller has a rich history of helping top ranked freshman get to the NBA
  • Bagley would stay in his home state


  • DeAndre Ayton has already committed to Arizona and will take up a lot of offensive space inside the paint, which is where Bagley performs best
  • Miller’s basic offense would detract from Bagley’s ability to showcase his perimeter skills
  • Bagley thrives in hectic transition play, which is a style of basketball that Arizona strays away from
  • With Ayton in the starting lineup, Bagley would be forced to guard power forwards, disallowing him from acting as a defensive anchor in the paint

Verdict: While Arizona may seem like a wonderful fit due to Bagley’s roots and the school’s recent success, the basketball fit is less than ideal. Sean Miller already has recruited multiple big men, which would strip playing time and opportunities away from Bagley. The NBA has strayed away from the traditional big man that college basketball typically produces, as versatile play has become more desired among the 30 NBA franchises. If Bagley is aware of this trend, he should feel discouraged from playing for the simplistic offense that Coach Miller employs.



  • Would be able to hop onto the recent media momentum that Lonzo Ball ignited at UCLA
  • Another L.A. market
  • UCLA’s head coach Steve Alford is incredibly creative and effective in orchestrating offensive gameplans around his star players, as seen in Kyle Anderson and Lonzo Ball
  • Last season reestablished UCLA as one of the nation’s top programs, which was a prestige that the team had been lacking
  • Alford’s team has reloaded for another potential deep run in the NCAA tournament, which would allow Bagley to display his talent on the brightest stage of all


  • Due to LiAngelo Ball recently joining the team, Lavar’s overwhelming presence will certainly be felt
  • Bagley’s stats wouldn’t be as impressive alongside Alford’s star studded roster, which includes Jaylen Hands and Aaron Holiday

Verdict: When taking multiple factors into consideration, it becomes clear that UCLA is the best possible choice Bagley could make. Steve Alford would engineer an offense that provides the superstar freshman with countless opportunities to not only display his established athleticism, rebounding, and defense, but also his more discreet skills such as ball handling and shooting. It also is apparent that Bagley takes media attention and branding into account when making decisions, which is why tonight’s Sportscenter appearance is no surprise whatsoever. So when considering this element of the 18-year-old, Los Angeles is the perfect media environment to optimize the level of hype around him, which Lonzo Ball clearly took advantage of last year. Choosing UCLA would result in a leading offensive role, top-ranked team, and an immense amount of media attention, making it the best decision Bagley could make.



  • Will be a national contender throughout the year, even more so than UCLA
  • Has a solid shot at winning the National Championship
  • Duke plays the highest levels of competition all season long
  • The mere exposure Bagley would have at Duke would (at the least) get him into the top ten in next year’s NBA Draft


  • Duke already has a crowded front court in Marques Boldin and Wendell Carter Jr., meaning less minutes and spotlight for Bagley
  • Along with their front court depth, Duke’s guards Treyvon Duval and Gary Trent Jr. will require multiple touches each game
  • Some top prospects get marginalized and lose their value when attending Duke, such as Harry Giles and Chase Jeter
  • Coach K. prefers traditional big men roles in his offense, limiting the potential versatility Bagley would be able to display on other teams

Verdict: Out of Bagley’s four top schools, Duke would be the worst decision he could make. Ultimately what matters to most top prospects is winning and draft status, and while Duke would certainly would provide Bagley with multiple victories, his draft status would likely diminish due to a lesser role. Coach K. already has to focus on providing three McDonald’s All-Americans with touches on offense, along with returning veterans Grayson Allen and Marques Bolden. Adding Bagley to the mix may result in more wins, but a much more limited offensive gameplan for the nation’s top prospect.