Duke

Could Marvin Bagley, a five-star forward, leave high school a year early to play for Duke?

Sierra Canyon’s Marvin Bagley III, left, plays against La Lumiere during the 2017 Hoophall Classic in January.
Sierra Canyon’s Marvin Bagley III, left, plays against La Lumiere during the 2017 Hoophall Classic in January. AP

Duke unleashes a major push to land a big piece for its basketball team today.

The question remains whether it will be for this season’s team or the 2018-19 squad.

Marvin Bagley III, an intriguing 6-11, 190-pound forward from Sierra Canyon High in Tempe, Ariz., arrived on campus Friday morning and is scheduled to continue his visit through Sunday.

He’s been to Duke before, stopping by with his family in the summer of 2015 when he picked up a scholarship offer from the Blue Devils.

Since then, he’s grown into the consensus No. 1 player in the 2018 recruiting class.

Last week, while he was playing before a horde of college coaches — including Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski — at the Peach Jam in North Augusta, S.C., CBS Sports and 247sports.com reported that Bagley would like to enter college and play this season.

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Marvin Bagley III, wearing number 35, competes in Nike's Elite Youth Basketball League in Indianapolis Friday, April 28, 2017. Bagley is visiting Duke this weekend. Mike Fender

The idea would be for him to play one college season so he could be eligible for the 2018 NBA draft. That would accelerate his ability to get to a second NBA contract -- and even larger paychecks.

Bagley and his family haven’t embraced the reports as true, but they haven’t completely ruled out the possibility either.

“You should probably ask CBS Sports; it seems like they know more than I know,” Bagley’s father, referring to the CBS Sports report, told fanragsports.com at the Peach Jam.

All that aside, Bagley possesses the kind of superior talent teams like Duke and Kentucky annually covet and build great classes around.

He averaged 25 points per game in the Nike EYBL summer circuit which wrapped up at the Peach Jam.

In addition to Duke, Arizona, Southern California, Kentucky, Kansas and UCLA are also high on Bagley’s list of schools.

Even though Bagley lives in Arizona and played for a California-based summer league team, Duke does have a geographic edge. Marvin Bagley II grew up in Durham and played wide receiver at N.C. A&T. The family came to Durham to visit extended family once the Peach Jam finished up last Sunday.

The Blue Devils will take a commitment from Bagley for the class of 2017 or the class of 2018. The route to having him available this season, though, remains complicated because Bagley is working remotely on coursework required for him to complete high school and get clearance from the NCAA.

Duke is taking a foreign tour to the Dominican Republic next month. To participate, players needed to be enrolled in the second summer school session. That means even if Bagley picks Duke he wouldn’t be able to accompany the team on that trip.

There’s even a chance the NCAA could declare Bagley an academic non-qualifier, which would prevent him from playing college basketball this season.

Nevertheless, Duke will put forth a major push this weekend to impress Bagley.

Steve Wiseman: 919-419-6671, @stevewisemanNC

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