Behind the Scenes With Marvin Bagley

His son is one of the top players in the country regardless of age or class. So how is Marvin Bagley, Jr.’s father advising him through the recruiting process? We sat down with him to discuss that, his recent visit to Duke, and much more.

What’s it like for you as a parent watching your son have so much early interest from colleges?

Mavin Bagley, Sr. I’ve had some past experience with athletics in my life, so I’m familiar with recruiting and that avenue of it. However, to this degree and this early—it’s kinda different but it’s still exciting and it’s fun to watch him on his journey and to see him in the different stages.

How is the family choosing to handle the recruiting process at this point—have you developed a plan?

We just do what we do, but we don’t do anything out of the ordinary. We’ve visited a couple of schools here and there, but other than that, we just keep working and stay consistent and train and do what we normally do. We don’t try to get too sidetracked with all the attention, we just try to stay focused and humble and focused on getting better. That’s the number one priority.

Thinking back to when he first started playing basketball—did you ever imagine it would progress to the point that its already at with his game and the recruiting attention?

No, not necessarily. He was always a little bit longer and taller than his peers. I know that he has a chance to do something with basketball and with his journey with his life, he’s always talked about that with his life. But I still didn’t know it would happen so fast and to this extent. It’s really exciting like I said to watch him on that journey.

What do you think sparked his desire for competitive basketball?

It was just something he always loved to do. We always had a sports interest in the household whether it was football or NBA or whatever it is, there was just an interest and they fell in line because kids usually like what they see in the household and we’ve always had an interest in sports. All of kids love to do it. I mostly played football in college but I did play a little bit of basketball at North Carolina A&T.

What did you learn from your college athletics experience and going through your recruiting process that can help and influence this process?

Well first of all, I obviously know all the mistakes I made and I know what I’ve been through with my athletic career. I absolutely learned a lot personally from that experience and I’m just thankful that God allowed me to go through the things I went through so I can share them with my kids. If you get off track with what you are doing you can definitely lose what you hope and dream for, I just thank God for showing me what He showed me so I can keep my kids focused and just try to lead them to not make the mistakes that I made. At this point we’re just teaching him that hard work pays off. If you work on it, you are going to see results. Just keep getting better and don’t put too much into all the attention and all the hype, the only thing you need to focus on is continued development and continuing to get better. That’s pretty much the lesson that we try to teach all of our kids. You gotta work and that’s the only way you are going to get better.

From a development perspective, what kind of things does Marvin do to develop as a player?

Well, it depends on the timing. Obviously during the season they work on team related activities but during the off-season, we try to work on the weaknesses. Driving right, just using the right hand and basically a little perimeter game right now, learning how to push the ball and recognizing the double team, stuff like that.

How would you describe Marvin’s on court approach to the game?

I think God has blessed him with a lot of ability to where he doesn’t have to be put in a box or at a particular position. He’s blessed to be an overall, all-around player. He can play inside both offensively and defensively and he’s also skilled enough to play the perimeter, push the ball, handle the ball—do some outside stuff as well on offense and defense. He doesn’t have a position and he’s young and I think that’s important in his development process. Don’t focus on just how to play a particular position because I think you limit yourself as far as your development is concerned.

Has he had a recent measurement for his height and weight and wingspan, etc?

His height is 6-foot-11 and his last wingspan was 7-foot-1. He’s about 215 pounds right now.

In his development process—have you guys looked at any particular players or teams to aid in his development?

Absolutely, Marvin goes through phases where he admires NBA Players, you see them on TV. I think his favorite player though is Kevin Durant. They are very similar in stature and build and Kevin Durant isn’t a big guy who just has to play in the post, I’m sure they can post him up but he’s not boxed into a position—he can do it all. That’s who Marvin mostly watches and tries to emulate in terms of players.

Following up on something you mentioned earlier…you indicated you’ve been able to visit some college programs already. Which programs have you had opportunity to visit?

We’ve had a lot of contact with different schools but we’ve only visited a couple and laid eyes on a couple of schools. Most recently it was at Duke University, that was a great visit, lot of tradition and we got to see the area and just great coaches and a lot of experience there.

What sparked the family’s desire to take a visit to Duke?

I had been in communication with Coach Capel and the Duke program because I’m actually from Durham, NC. I went to high school within walking distance of Duke. I don’t remember how or when we started having communication, but we talked a lot and since I would be in town visiting, we decided to go over and visit the campus. We go every summer but this is our first chance to go over there to Duke.

What was the overall impression of the Duke visit?

Honestly Duke University speaks for itself with the track record they have, the history, the tradition. So to get a first-hand view of it, being a college basketball fan, it was exciting and getting to sit down with Coach Capel and Coach K, it was awesome. Just looking at the banners and seeing Cameron Indoor Stadium, it was an awesome experience especially with no matter what colleges you like or even if you aren’t a Duke fan, just the tradition and the accomplishments they have, you gotta respect it and you gotta love it.

What were your impressions of the Duke program before they started recruiting Marvin?

Well, all schools are equal right now, Marvin owes it to himself to see all of his options just so he can be sure that he can make the right decision. Obviously with Duke they have five national championships now and that speaks for itself, you gotta know that there’s a ton of experience there, especially with the same coach and there’s a ton of basketball experience and knowledge that can help any player. Before that it was just what it was, there’s a lot of great coaches and programs with a lot of experience, but now that they are showing interest—you can see more closely the great tradition and we appreciate it and we are honored and humbled by it.

For you, what do you remember most about being on campus and the time with the coaches?

I guess Cameron, just looking at the gym and knowing that every season its filled, every home game, it’s just filled and just seeing that place. I’ve seen it a lot on tv just being from Durham, but seeing it in person, that was my first time stepping into it and that’s a historical place. That’s what I remember the most. With the coaches, they made it clear that they liked Marvin and that they like his potential—but they also made it clear it’s very important for him to keep working and keep developing. Coach K made some good points and our conversation actually got deep enough to where he got up on the board and drew up some plays. His knowledge and his approach to the game is very, very impressive. Not only myself but also my family, my wife, Marvin—we were very impressed with his approach and with his approach to the game. His knowledge and expertise—it speaks for itself.

What did he diagram on the board as you guys were talking?

We were just sitting there and for some reason we started talking about players being predictable. We talked about how Marvin faced a lot of double teams this past year and he just drew up some stuff to where it would be almost impossible to double a guy with the way he was drawing the plays up, just different ways for kids to get open and how to re-position themselves.

There’s a report that Duke has offered a scholarship offer already..can you confirm?

Yeah, it was actually on the visit, we had already made it back home and I had some communication with Coach Capel that morning and that’s when the scholarship offer was given. They told us that the scholarship is there and whenever he felt like he wanted to commit, they’d be there ready and waiting with open arms. That’s pretty much how it went. You don’t have to sell a program like that, there’s a few programs like that where the tradition alone just speaks for itself. I was very excited for Marvin because I know how hard he works. For him to get an offer, especially with them just winning the national championship, that’s a blessing. He’s excited to get that offer and I was excited for him. Our whole family was excited.

Aside from Duke’s offer—do you remember off the top of your head what other programs have extended a firm, committable scholarship offer to Marvin?

He has 16 offers. We have Duke, Kentucky, Oregon, Arizona State, Arizona, UCONN, UCLA, Memphis, Washington State, San Francisco, North Carolina A&T, Northern Arizona University, Grand Canyon, I don’t remember how many that is, we are trying to keep track of it and I can personally confirm that I have heard 16 different programs give scholarship offers to me for Marvin.

With the early offers-how does that impact Marvin’s future recruiting process? Is that a big deal for you guys?

My thought process is that especially at this early stage of his process, it’s just showing a belief. We talk to a lot of schools and some of them say we like him, we like him and we have interest, but that’s different from being offered. When schools actually offer him—we think that demonstrates that they actually believe that Marvin is going to pan out and we feel like that takes it a step further from interest to actually having a belief that he can play here and that you can be what we need you to be here. That means a lot and once you reach a point where everybody knows you are great as a senior in high school, it’s going to be tough to build relationships with players because it’s so late in the game, but when they are at such a young age and you know and believe that the kid can play and you have belief that a kid can pan out, that’s when a relationship is started early, so that’s obviously an advantage for any school who is at that point.

Are there still a good amount of programs that you are hoping to have an offer from as Marvin’s process moves forward in the future?

Our only focus is to get better and just keep praying to God that He will open the doors that He wants open and close the doors that He wants to close. We just keep praying that God will have all the opportunities that He wants us to have will present themselves. At the same time, 3 years from now, he still has 3 years in high school and college basketball is constantly changing, so 3 years from now—we realize things could be completely different. We just appreciate all the interest and we’re humbled by all of this.

Speaking of three years from now—the reclassification trend is a popular one in high school these days with players moving back or forward to get to college earlier or later. Have you looked into that at all?

Absolutely, we’ve thought about it. I can’t say that we haven’t but it hasn’t been any definite decisions made. It’s one of those things that we have to play it by ear and we have to see how the next couple weeks or months go because that’s the type of thing you have to plan early with all the academic requirements. We haven’t given it too much thought and we’re just trying to make the best decision for him. I don’t see a rush, if I had to say today will he re-class, I would say no, but you never know what type of opportunities might present themselves and what the next year holds, so we’re just going to play it by ear and see what the future holds.

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