Within the world of basketball, once-in-generation talent grasps the eye and amazes us like the wonders of the world do. This kind of talent usually grabs our attention early on, given that his and/or her level of play is noticeably better than one’s peers. You can certainly attribute part of their greatness to God-given physical traits, but undoubtedly these players are a different kind of beast.
Meet Marvin Bagley III, the No. 1-ranked player in the Class of 2018. At 6’11 and 220 pounds, Bagley’s game has college scouts’ mouths watering. The 18-year-old is still busy touring various colleges, but USC, one of his the leading candidates to land the 5-star recruit, has offered Bagley’s two siblings Marcus, 16, and Martay, 7, scholarships as well.
He is surely having a taste of his future this summer as he went from making his Drew League debut early in the season to becoming the “The Future of the Drew League” as announcer, George Preciado, calls him.
Playing alongside James Harden, Chris Paul, Bobby Brown, Montrezl Harrell and Pooh Jeter on LAUNFD, Bagley has gotten exposure to playing with star pros. Many of who have taken notice of the rising stars’ skill set, IQ and fluidity. Yet what the Drew has provided for him is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to increase his learning curve earlier than many of his counterparts.
Players who have guarded the “Man Child” at the Drew have simply shrugged at the inability to stop the big fella. In fact, even defensively, Bagley has shown exceptional footwork, when M.H.P.’s JaVale McGee tried to test the young fella by putting a series of crossovers, Bagley never lost his ground in front of McGee, forcing a 24-second violation.
LAUNFD’s very own Bobby Brown spoke very highly of Bagley’s basketball skill-set.
“He’s like an actual man. He’s like a young kid, but in his game he has everything,” says Brown. “He can post-up, shoot the three, athletic; he’s going to be a problem.”
Brown continued by complementing Bagley on the 18-year-old’s passion to learn more about the game.
“He’s a great teammate,” says Brown. “He’s a young kid who’s still learning the terminologies and he wants to learn from us which is a good thing for him to be around of these type of guys like me, Pooh, James [and] Trez.”
Long-time LAUNFD head coach Wally Moore also praised the future star both for his game and personality.
“On this level for him is really incredible. What’s real good about the young man is that he has a positive attitude on and off the court,” says Moore. “That’s more important. He has a good father and mother and upbringing and a lot of the veterans and pros are clinging to him and giving advice. I think he’ll be great.”
Coach Moore went further to make a prediction about Bagley’s future.
“Coming out of college after a year there, he’s going to be top three pick in the NBA Draft easily,” he says. ‘He’s going to have a lengthy professional career. He’s really well seasoned. Now in the NBA, you’re tall, long, can run the floor, dribble, you can last 15 years.”
Marvin Bagley III was born on March 14, 1999 in Tempe, Arizona, to Tracy Caldwell-Bagley and Marvin Bagley Jr. Basketball has been a part of his life as far back as he can remember. Having a ball in his hands is almost second nature and has been working out with his dad and learning the game since the third grade.
“Ever since I was young, I’ve been adding little things to my game and trying to incorporate them,” says Bagley III. “I’m going to keep pushing and working. If you’re working hard, then you’ll get better; if not, then you’ll get left behind.”
Bagley attended Corona del Sol High School as a freshman and then transferred to Hillcrest Prep in Phoenix as a sophomore. A third change came when the entire Bagley family moved west to Chatsworth, California, where Marvin joined Sierra Canyon High School. While certainly there was basketball motive behind the move, it wasn’t easy for the young fella as a teen.
“It was tough moving from school to school. You get comfortable in one place with a lot of friends and you get used to one place then next you know, boom, you’re moving to another school and you have to make new friends and get comfortable in that place,” says Bagley III. “In that regard, it was tough from that point of view. But, overall, it’s God’s plan and he put me through that for a reason.”
For most teens, the summertime means spending time with friends at the beach, lazily watching TV at home all day, going on trips with family and friends. For Marvin Bagley III, most of his free time is spent with his brothers getting in at least two workouts a day.
The side of Marvin Bagley III that many people are not privy to is the 18-year-old kid who likes to write and rap.
“I think a lot of people forget how old I am, and that I just like being a kid while I’m still enjoying it,” says Bagley III with a slight grin. “Being around pros, I’m just having fun, man.”
It’s common knowledge to all athletes that without hard work, you cannot attain greatness. Bagley is well acclaimed with the term “hard work.” He speaks of it more than anything else, which makes it no surprise to hear likewise from his father.
“I’m really most proud about how Marvin’s handling everything. You know there’s a lot of pressure that comes with the position he’s in. He’s handling everything very well,” says Bagley Jr. “He’s humble, staying focused and levelheaded. He doesn’t get too high or too low, he just keeps working hard. At the end of the day, he really is just a great person.”
If there are any doubts of the dedication of the Bagley family to basketball, the fact that the entire family has shown up to all of the Drew League games from the youngest Bagley brother, Martray “Pooh Pooh” Bagley, to Marvin Bagley Jr.
“Everywhere I go, they’re there. There hasn’t been a tournament where both of them haven’t been there cheering and supporting,” says Bagley III. “Just playing one-on-one with my dad and losing and getting roughed up, you know, that helped me a lot to get tougher and to just keep playing and pushing against people that are older than me, so I’m very thankful for that.”
Bagley Jr. also spoke proudly about his son’s personality off the court, too.
“He’s just a big kid. He likes to listen his music. He likes to laugh and joke a lot,” he says. “It’s an honor to say that’s my son. He is the complete opposite of how I was growing up.”
Fun — it’s what most young people desire; yet it’s not always possible. For Marvin, it’s on the court doing what he loves most: playing ball. It’s clear watching him on the floor. Many players care solely about the highlight crossovers, dunks and style points, but with Bagley III, his game is very modern, yet traditional. He has a lot of face-up offensive post skills and most of his game comes around the rim, dominating boards and catching lobs. While he hasn’t utilized his outside shot in the Drew League, he has showcased having that ability as well.
When comparing the Drew League to AAU ball, Bagley acknowledged the disparity between the two attributing it mostly to the physicality and having to work for every shot. Like most players who want to be amongst the greats one day, he’s taking advantage of this opportunity by getting a glimpse at his future along with feeding advice from pros.
Mr. Bagley offered some advice to other parents, but made it clear that it really isn’t all him and his wife.
“Keep praying, man. To be honest with you, it’s probably not much we’ve done,” says Bagley Jr. “A lot of it is God-given — 100% of it actually. All glory to God. He gave us the tools and gave Marvin the tools and he just works and develops it.”
When you watch the rising senior on the floor, many of the personality traits created by the foundation his family set of always being humble, smart and in control are visible. He isn’t a vocal player, nor does he get caught up in all the trash talk.
He puts his head down and does what he is told to do on the floor. When it’s warranted he displays very raw emotion that makes you frightened knowing this 18-year-old is THIS good.
There’s nothing more you can ask from a talented player than being a force on the basketball floor, yet not getting caught up in all the outside noise and just doing your job.
Like any elite player, there are critics and they are vocal. From the past to present, people have tended to come up with ways to criticize those athletes who are gifted with their physical attributes.
For Bagley, he’s taken the high road from handling those criticisms, giving the best answer anyone could give.
“I just laugh at them. I put a lot of work into this. I wasn’t just born with this,” says Bagley III. “I worked hard. I do a lot to make sure that I’m ready for big moments. They don’t really know what goes on behind the scenes.”
One those behind the scenes actions has been watching film with his father who is can be spotted courtside ensuring he captures every moment on both ends of the floor whether good or bad. If there’s anything Bagley Jr. sees that he dislikes, he yells at his son during the game.
Before games, if there’s enough time, Marvin and his father go through a pre-game routine together. It’s the exact kind of relationship you praise and wish most fathers would have the dedication to pull off.
It is no question that Bagley’s future is bright. He loves watching Kevin Durant, Brandon Ingram and Anthony Davis, modeling his game from those players specifically.
“I just study the game and take stuff from each player and try to put it in my game and try to go out and do it,” says Bagley.
His immediate future is unclear, but soon to be determined by where he decides to take his talents collegiately. However, when his basketball career is all said and done, he has made his goal and his confidence in attaining that goal clear.
“A winner and a champion,” Bagley III summed up. “When it’s all said and done I want to be mentioned in the conversation when they talk about one of the greatest players ever, or even the greatest player. That’s something I work for and with the hard work I put in, if I trust God, I really believe that at one point I’ll be up there.”
Nothing is for sure and a lot can happen between now and then, but Marvin Bagley III is slowly starting to make a household name for himself wherever he goes. After games at the Drew League, fans flutter him to take pictures and sign autographs and with his father by his side recording, as he makes sure to sign and take a picture for every fan.
Media members ask to talk with the No. 1-ranked player in the nation, and he tends to not refuse to give them a couple minutes of his time as well. The basketball world has seen his game but it better prepare for his exemplary warming personality, as its next favorite superstar is on the come up.
Bobby Eghbali is entering his junior year at USC majoring in Business administration with a minor in Sports Media Studies. This is his first summer interning for the Drew League, but his third year at The Drew. His career aspirations are to work on the business side of sports after pursuing a career in finance. His past (and current) experiences include interning for Clearlake Capital Group, The Sports Quotient, Overtime, and Topco Internet Marketing. Follow him on Twitter: @bobbyeghbali