Men’s basketball to flourish in 2021-2022: Marcus Bagley
It was Christmas in July for the Arizona State men’s basketball program last week after it was announced that second-year forward Marcus Bagley was removing his name from the NBA Draft and returning to Tempe.
Bagley entered his freshman season with the pomp and legitimate circumstances that should accompany his title as one of Sun Devil’s top-rated basketball rookies in program history, and he spent his first outings to put an end to this hype.
An outstanding 21-point performance against Houston Baptist only came in his third game. He then scored in double digits six more times last season, the best of which was a 19-point outing against Oregon State, where he shot 4 of 9 to three.
Unfortunately for Bagley, injuries were as much the story of his first season as his offensive production. He suffered a frightening lower leg injury against Cal on December 3, which saw Bagley make the motion that he had been kicked in the lower calf while running in public. This movement is a common sign of Achilles tears.
The Sun Devil program breathed a huge sigh of relief when diagnosed with a less severe calf injury. Nonetheless, Bagley was away for over a month. At the end of January, the injury virus hit him again, this time his ankle, and another month of rehabilitation began.
Despite the injuries, his production was very solid. He averaged 10.8 points, 6.2 rebounds (team high) and 1.2 assists on 38.7 / 34.7 / 71.9 shooting points. Add 0.4 blocks and 0.8 steals per game, and Bagley’s image as the team’s most complete player last season becomes even clearer.
It’s certainly possible, probably likely, that those numbers could have been even higher had Bagley been playing all season. As a result, perhaps they should not be considered the best way to measure its value.
There is one statistic that has the potential to be much higher in 2021-2022: a percentage of 3 points. He hit that 34.7% rating in an attack that hurt to move the ball and open the shooters.
As a team, Arizona State ranked 176th in assists. He does not yet have the ability to create his own shot at an elite level, but his three catch-and-shoot movement is NBA caliber.
Marcus Bagley with the 3 move using an off-ball screen is exactly what we need to see of him. His ability to consistently hit shots like this will be his primary swing skill in terms of long-term value. pic.twitter.com/Ly6eQaiL61
– HoopsWill (@HoopsWill) November 27, 2020
The minute Bagley announced his return, he became the focal point of the Sun Devil’s offensive. His play also provides the antidote to many of the team’s problems last season, as he thrives on ball movement and screen action away from the ball.
Bagley has decided he needs more seasoning in college, and the Sun Devils are better off for it. If he can become a better point guard, he can not only be one of the best players in the Pac-12, but also one of the best in the country this winter.