Marvin Bagley III has taken the college basketball world by storm this season, but he hasn’t done it alone.
The Duke freshman has had his family with him every step of the way and while that hasn’t always made it easier, it’s helped shape into the player he is. Now, with his sights on a championship run this March, Bagley will, once again, rely on the support of his family. Here’s everything you need to know about the group:
1. Bagley & His Parents Designed an Online High School Program for Him
It’s been a long and winding road to Duke for Bagley. And it wasn’t exactly traditional.
Bagley finished his high-school degree in just three years, announcing he was set to enroll at Duke on August 14, 2017 – with complete eligibility. It was an announcement that few expected and even fewer understood, particularly when Bagley detailed the online curriculum he completed to make sure he could get to college. He told ACCXtra:
When I first looked at the classes, I was like, ‘Dang, that’s going to be a lot. But I knew I had to really focus and lock in and not do normal regular teenage stuff that kids do in the summer. Pretty much gave up my whole summer for that, to get here and be able to be a part of this team. At the end of the day, I’m glad I did that.
Bagley and his parents designed the schedule and its courses – Algebra I and Algebra II (in consecutive sessions), Latin and English (which required two sessions) – to meet the NCAA’s eligibility requirements after he’d already attended three high schools in two states during the previous three years.
The Blue Devils phenom got his start at Corona Del Sol High School in Tempe, Arizona, leading the team to a state championship as a freshman and drawing interest from nearly every top college program in the country. He then transferred to Phoenix’s Hillcrest Prep to start the 2015 season, but left in November when, as his father explained, he needed to get away from “the negativity following the program.”
Bagley also played at Sierra Canyon School in California and, after missing his sophomore year because of transfer rules, joined the squad his junior season. In 29 games, Bagley averaged 24.6 points, 10.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists and two steals.
2. His Father Designed T-Shirts With Bagley’s Face on Them During the Season
Marvin Bagley Jr. has always considered himself his son’s number one supporter, but in January the father faced a possible NCAA issue when t-shirts he designed ended up on third-party retailer websites.
Bagley first designed the t-shirts – white, long and short-sleeved, with an image of his son screaming on in it Duke blue – but it didn’t take long for the design to be shipped to other “unauthorized” sites and, on January 14 2018, Bagley posted a series of Facebook messages warning fans about purchasing from the site.
According to a report in the News & Observer, the image was, mostly, confined to TeeChip Pro, a site that clams it allows “its users to design and sell their own T-shirts and other merchandise.” The site offered everything from t-shirts to cell phone cases and mugs with Bagley’s image on them.
Bagley posted on Facebook, saying he had not given permission to use the image, writing “THESE CROOKS on this website tried to copy my shirt and ILLEGALLY profit on my son’s name, image and likeness!”
The NCAA prohibits athletes or their families from making money off their likeness and can also punish athletes if someone tries to do just that. The organization’s bylaws list the rule as “If a student-athlete’s name or picture appears on commercial items (e.g., T-shirts, sweatshirts, serving trays, playing cards, posters) or is used to promote a commercial product sold by an individual or agency without the student-athlete’s knowledge or permission, the student-athlete (or the institution acting on behalf of the student-athlete) is required to take steps to stop such an activity in order to retain his or her eligibility for intercollegiate athletics.”
3. USC Offered Scholarships to Bagley & His Brothers When He Visited
Well, that’s one way to endear yourself to an entire family.
Bagley and his family were visiting USC in July 2017 when Trojans coach Andy Enfield’s offered him a scholarship – and a scholarship to both of his younger brothers, including seven-year-old Martray.
Not many kids can say they’ve received a scholarship offer while wearing a Transformers t-shirt and while the youngest Bagley, likely, won’t take up USC on the scholarship offer, the move made headlines. The same, however, might not be true for middle-brother Marcus, a class of 2020 forward who transferred from Sierra Canyon in California to Ravenscroft School in Raleigh, North Carolina in October 2017.
4. Bagley’s Grandfather, Joe Caldwell, Played in the NBA & ABA
He always had basketball in his veins.
Bagley’s grandfather, Joe Caldwell, was one of the most dynamic players in the NBA and while he wasn’t without his own headlines, his legacy is still felt even to this day.
Caldwell was an All-American at Arizona State and, in 1964, was named to the U.S. Olympic team before being selected by the Detroit Pistons in that year’s NBA Draft. He spent the majority of his NBA career with the St. Louis/Atlanta Hawks and, after averaging just over 21 points a game during the 1969-70 season, joined the ABA. Caldwell played for the Carolina Cougars from 1970 to 1974, but his career ended with a jarring halt.
He was playing with the St. Louis Spirits in 1974 when front office claimed he suggested teammate Marvine Barnes leave the organization before a November game at the Nassau Coliseum against the New York Nets. Caldwell argued the rumor, but it didn’t matter – with 61 games left in the season St. Louis suspended him and attempted to break his contract.
Caldwell was never the same. The rest was a back-and-forth affair of legal issues and lawsuits and Caldwell didn’t step onto a basketball court as a player again.
“I would have liked to have played my 15 or 20 years, retired and get inducted into the Hall of Fame,” Caldwell told the New York Times in 1993. “I dream about playing three or four times a week. I’m trying to make a finger roll layup and it won’t go in.”
5. He Credits His Family for His Success On & Off the Court
The Bagley family has been criticized for its vocal and, sometimes, bombastic support of the Duke freshman, but the standout knows he wouldn’t be anywhere without that support. He told ESPN that his parents missed just one game while he was growing up and that was only because he and his brother were both playing at the same time.
Still, there have been naysayers who compare Marvin Bagley Jr. and LaVar Ball. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski was quick to quell those comparisons, saying:
It’s nothing like that..I think more and more for the top players, you’re going to see the parents or a parent being close because there’s so much invested in them. If it all works out, you’re talking about an amazing career, financially, publicity — just everything. So they want to make sure that everything is going the right way. The fact that they’re close, that’s good.
Even after settling into life as a college basketball star, Bagley is quick to admit he’s as close to his family as ever. But, as his star continued to rise this season, Bagley never forgot his roots or the group of family always in the stands.