The Duke Blue Devils became instant college basketball favorites to win the 2018 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament when the top recruit in the country (some even say the world) and future top NBA Draft pick, Marvin Bagley, committed to play for Universitas Dukiana.
Duke moves from 7-1 to 3-1 to win the national title after the Marvin Bagley III announcement.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 15, 2017
Duke was so elated at the prospect that they gave Danny Ferry’s old No. 35 jersey the Jay Cutler treatment and unretired it so that Bagley can wear it. There’s a pretty good chance he could use it as a doormat and they – Ferry included – wouldn’t mind the least bit. And why would they?
Is that a clip of Bagley playing a pickup game with his presumptive teammates, or footage of that Fresh Prince of Bel Air episode where Will joined the high school basketball team? All well and good, but like the Kyrie Irving trade, it’s not all written in stone. Bagley’s road to Duke has more twists and turns that any given season of Lost, so here, knock yourselves out. Everybody up to speed? Good. Now the NCAA clearinghouse has the final say on whether Bagley gets the green light. Could they possibly go ‘Hey, no Bagley, no Bagley, no Bagley’ on Duke. As ESPN Staff Writer Myron Medcalf writes, “the NCAA clearinghouse is a mysterious collection.” Like the Powers That Be in Angel? They will examine each and every detail of Bagley’s permanent academic record and, who knows, perhaps get to the bottom of why he attended three different high schools in as many years. The only other people who went to more high schools in so short a time were the undercover agents in 21 Jump Street.
The remaining college basketball programs must be praying to their gods of choice for the NCAA clearinghouse to find some dirt on Bagley. A healthy Blue Devils led by Coach Smiley, err, Coach K. would be nigh unstoppable. Then again, that assumes that Mike Krzyzewski is healthy as well. Krzyzewski missed seven games last season because of a back injury. More recently, Duke canceled an exhibition trip to the Dominican Republic earlier this month due to Krzyzewski’s knee-replacement surgery. According to Coach K., the condition of his knee would have affected his ability to coach through the 2017-18 season if he hadn’t undergone surgery now. Again, all well and good except for the fact that that’s the sixth surgery Krzyzewski has undergone in 17 months. And at 70 years of age – 38 of which have been devoted to Duke Blue Devils men’s basketball – Krzyzewski is no spring chicken.
“It’s just the brotherhood there,” Bagley told ESPN. “I had a good feeling [about Duke] ever since they offered me a scholarship in the ninth grade. … I’m just blessed to be in this position.” If the position he means is that by graduating earlier he will be eligible for the 2018 NBA Draft whether or not he plays for Duke – or any other college basketball team for that matter – then yes, rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward.