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June 5, 2013Marvin Bagley III became the youngest known player in state history to receive a scholarship offer when Northern Arizona offered one earlier this year, and during a recent visit to Arizona State, the Sun Devils followed suit.
Bagley turned 14 in March and just finished seventh grade. Difficult to comprehend? Not when you see the eye-opening highlight videos on YouTube, which have received several hundred thousand views already.
The 6-foot-8 southpaw plays well beyond his years, already better than most kids ever will be. He has nice touch on his shot out to the 3-point line, handles the ball well for his size, dunks everything around the basket and is a rare defensive presence, and that's the case even when playing against kids a year or two older. He's certainly one of the very best in the country in his age group.
"He has an extraordinary ability to pick up things that other kids his age can't and do it quickly," said his father, Marvin Bagley II. "He picks up things fast. Marvin is a different type of kid and that ability has transferred to basketball. He can go and watch something and emulate it right away whether it's a ball handling drill or a variety of moves in training or whatever it is. Even though I see it every day, he never ceases to amaze with the things he's able to pick up."
Saying Bagley has good bloodlines would be an understatement. His grandfather is legendary former Arizona State star "Jumpin'" Joe Caldwell, a two-time NBA all-star who was picked second overall by Detroit in the 1964 NBA Draft.
"I think Marvin sees from his grandfather's accomplishments that it can be done," Bagley II said. "He's an Olympic gold medalist, a great player in college, and No. 2 overall draft pick in the NBA. He sees he can be done and that's the first and most important lesson. As far as basketball and all of that, he doesn't try to influence him. He just wants him to work hard and be a good person. Most of his advice is off the court in terms of life lesson. He teaches him some small things in basketball but he really wants him to just be a good person."
With such immense potential, there will be a lot of focus on Bagley in the coming years but it's something he should be able to handle reasonably well given his support system and personality type, according to his father.
"He just has to keep doing exactly what he's been doing; working hard and not paying attention to what's written or said about him, or media," Bagley II said. "I look at what's out there and like to let people know what's going on in Arizona so I may talk about him on twitter or things like that. But Marvin does a good job of not paying too much attention to rankings or opinions, whether it be good or bad. That doesn't make you a great player. What you do and who you determine that."
Before it became clear his future was on the hardwood, Bagley had aspirations to be a musician. He plays several instrumentals and can produce instrumental music, according to his father. Those things will likely continue to be hobbies, but there's no question his basketball training will come first.
Bagley is now playing for the Arizona Power 16U Black team -- where he's averaging a double-double despite almost always being the youngest player on the court -- and the program is one that should allow him to flourish, his father believes.
"One thing I can tell you, the resources are there, the kids are there, more kids are coming, and the only thing that it will take it time," Bagley II said. "Once more time passes I'm sure it'll develop like it should. I expect it will be one of the best in the country, not only in Arizona. With the facilities that are available and the actual knowledge put into the program from the trainers and coaches, it's unparalleled to any I've seen in Arizona."
Caldwell is a regular around ASU basketball, not only attending most home games at Wells Fargo Arena, but also a lot of the team's practices at Weatherup Center. Often, the Bagley family will attend games, including the younger Marvin, who frequently wears ASU gear.
"He's an ASU fan," Bagley II said. "It's really exciting for him to get the offer and have that opportunity especially because his grandfather was such a prominent player at the school and it's the local school and one that our family supports. He's not going to rush into anything and it's way too early to start thinking about where he's going to go to college, but it's great. We went there and visited with the coaches and everything was very nice."
Arizona is also making its presence known in an effort to ensure the Bagley family that it plans on being involved in his recruitment.
"We actually just visited UofA [Tuesday]," Bagley II said. "It went great. They didn't offer but they did show a lot of love and he was there for about four or five hours. It went very well. They have great tradition and history there and it was impressive. We enjoyed it."
At this early stage, it's not even been determined where Bagley will play in high school much less what will happen beyond that. But the scholarship offers should only whet his appetite further, his dad believes.
"Marvin will continue to work as hard as he has since Day I if not harder," Bagley said. "Playing with bigger kids and seeing the opportunity will fuel his desire. His goal is to become the greatest basketball player. That's obviously a longshot but if you shoot that high you've got to land somewhere good. I have no doubt about his work ethic. He has one of the best work ethics I've seen in a kid that young."
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