College football’s best players were just in New York and Atlanta to receiver their honors, while their basketball counterparts are just getting started the race to be the nation’s best. With about a quarter of the season done, and barely any conference games having been played, some players have already showcased the kinds of performances worthy of end of season awards. The college basketball landscape is littered with freshmen off to a hot start to their careers and upperclassmen establishing their dominance early on.
Through about one month of play, this group of players has jumped out as possible winners of National Player of the Year.
10. Ethan Happ, Wisconsin
Though the season has not started perfectly for the Badgers, Happ has not been the issue so far. As Wisconsin has stumbled to a 4-7 record, the junior center has averaged 16.3 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 3.1 assists, while playing some of the most impressive and versatile defense in the nation. He’s led the Big Ten in steals back-to-back seasons, plus topped the conference in 2-point field goals and offensive rebounds last year. Though known for his work on the block and around the basket, Happ has attempted to add a jump shot to his repertoire this season. Last season, just 18 percent of his shots were jumpers, and he only made 34 percent of those jump shots. This season, more than a quarter of his attempts are jump shots, and he’s making half of them. If defenders need to respect him from outside of ten feet, his inside game and fleet footwork becomes even more effective.
Bagley averaged 24.6 points and 10.1 points per game as a senior at Sierra Canyon High School in Chatsworth (Calif.) after sitting out his junior year due to transfer rules. He had previously spent his freshman and sophomore years in his home state of Arizona.
While it’s still early to say how Bagley will perform at the next level, many expect him to be the top overall pick in next year’s NBA Draft. If you want to know how much hype is surrounding the 6-foot-11 big man, just look at how Duke’s championship odds were affected when he announced his commitment.
After nearly three decades of hanging in the rafters at Duke, Danny Ferry’s No. 35 jersey is coming out of retirement for star freshman Marvin Bagley III. Now Ferry is explaining why he offered his blessing.
“[Associate head coach] Jeff Capel and I had talked about it a while ago, at which time I offered and said I was totally fine with it at some point if they needed to use one of the retired jerseys,” said Ferry. “I’m very proud my jersey will still be hanging in Cameron, but I’m most attached to what is best for Duke and the basketball program.
“Speaking pragmatically, with so many retired jerseys and the great tradition that hopefully continues, this was going to be an issue going forward for the school at some level,” Ferry continued. “For it being a high-quality player and a high-character kid, it certainly makes decisions like this easy.”
Ferry, who went to a lengthy NBA career and a three-year stint as Atlanta Hawks GM, was one of the more storied players in Duke basketball history. A four-year guy, Ferry was a two-time ACC Player of the Year and a two-time All-American selection as well as Naismith College Player of the Year in 1989.
Tucker notes that the Blue Devils have retired 13 jersey numbers in the history of the program, but this is the first time ever that a number has been brought out of retirement. Nevertheless, with how drastically Bagley’s commitment has improved Duke’s title odds, it makes sense for him to be the trailblazer.
Bagley, who played last season at Sierra Canyon High School in Chatsworth, Calif., is viewed as the No. 1 recruit in this year’s class, and a strong contender to be the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. Some believe the 6-foot-11 forward may be the most valuable player coming out of high school since LeBron James.
Bagley’s reclassification still needs to be approved by the NCAA. If the move is approved, Duke will end up with a good shot at winning their second championship in four years.
Duke just landed a major recruit — perhaps the biggest recruit of all.
Marvin Bagley III, a high school standout from the Los Angeles-area, announced on Monday night that he has committed to Duke as a 2017 recruit.
Bagley, 18, reclassified for the class of 2017, which would make him an incoming freshman this year. He is waiting on NCAA approval for the move.
Bagley is from Tempe, Ariz., and played his first two high school seasons in his home state. However, he then transferred to Sierra Canyon High School in Chatsworth (Calif.) but was ruled ineligible to play as a junior due to transfer rules. He did play as a senior, averaging 24.6 points and 10.1 points per game.
Bagley is viewed as the No. 1 recruit in the 2017 class. He participated in the Los Angeles-based Drew League and dominated this summer, teaming with James Harden. If he does get classified for 2017 and enters the draft next year, he very well could be the top overall pick.
Marvin Bagley III may be blessing the Pac-12 with his talents.
Bagley, the top-ranked recruit for the class of 2018, has added official visits to UCLA and Arizona for the month of August, his father told ESPN’s Paul Giangardi on Friday. Giangardi also adds that Bagley, who has already visited Duke and USC, is considering reclassifying for 2017.
Bagley, 18, is a five-star power forward listed at 6-foot-11, 220 pounds. The Bruins and the Wildcats both already boast top-five 2017 recruiting classes. But a Bagley reclassification and commitment could conceivably lift either of them into the national title conversation (as well as give this fellow top prospect some competition to be the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft). And it’s definitely easy to see why: