Marvin Bagley III: ‘Would mean world to me’ to play for hometown Suns

Jun 8, 2018, 1:44 PM | Updated: 2:52 pm

PHOENIX — It was a bit inevitable, right?

A little less than 48 hours after Deandre Ayton had his post-workout press conference in front of one of the largest media gatherings the Phoenix Suns have had this season, Marvin Bagley III had his own on Friday.

Despite Bagley having even heavier local ties than Ayton, there were a couple fewer cameras and media members, which was to be expected given Ayton’s outlook as the favorite to be selected No. 1 overall by Phoenix.

With that shadow casting over the room came questions about Ayton and his remarks on Wednesday, but Bagley said he’s not the type to worry about that.

“Not at all,” he said, regarding Ayton’s comments changing the way he goes about his business. “Deandre — he’s going to do what he’s going to do. That’s his plan. All I can do is control what I control and do what I love to do and work out and show different teams what I’m capable of doing.”

Bagley did call it a bit disrespectful that Ayton was considered the predominant No. 1 pick candidate, but was speaking to the work he put in as an NBA prospect.

Bagley and Ayton both shared time together at Hillcrest Prep in Phoenix and Bagley said they still keep in touch from time to time.

Unlike Ayton, though, Bagley was born and raised in Tempe and remembers being a Suns fan.

“The Suns in the playoffs, and Suns vs. Lakers games, we used to have barbecues and people would come over the house and have a good time and watch the game,” he said.

“Just to be able to be here and to be on the court and work out with this team — [that would] mean the world to me to come back and be in my hometown.”

Arguably the most hyped and highly rated basketball prospect to ever come out of Arizona, Bagley spent his freshman year at Corona del Sol in Tempe and was at Hillcrest Prep as a sophomore.

Bagley transferred to a high school in California as a junior but was ruled ineligible for a year. He then played there one season and reclassified to be a senior and move on to play college basketball at Duke.

A 6-foot-11 big man with incredible leaping ability and agility for a player of his size, Bagley averaged 21.0 points and 11.1 rebounds while shooting a very efficient 61.4 percent from the field for the Blue Devils. That earned him ACC Player of the Year and consensus All-American honors.

“A very unique player,” Suns general manager Ryan McDonough said of Bagley.

McDonough said the Suns project Bagley as a power forward who could play center as he gets older with strength.

Position, however, doesn’t matter to the Suns at this point.

“We’re trying to focus on getting the best available player and if that means potentially a lesser role for the guys on our roster or guys who have started having a bench role then so be it,” McDonough said.

McDonough named the prospects that are in the group the Suns are considering at the top spot in the draft. It includes Bagley, Ayton, Texas’ Mohamed Bamba, Real Madrid’s Luka Doncic and Michigan State’s Jaren Jackson Jr.

The Suns will hold another solo workout on Saturday with the expectation of another coming on Sunday. Doncic’s agent has expressed that Doncic will not work out for any teams, as Doncic is currently still playing for Real Madrid. McDonough did say, though, the Suns want to try and make that happen and if not, a conversation between the two sides will at least take place.

That leaves Bamba and Jackson potentially coming in for workouts the following two days.

Bagley knows he’s in that group that’s under consideration, but also knows that if he isn’t picked No. 1 by Phoenix, that’s going to stick with him for the rest of the career. Even if that means holding a grudge against his hometown team, which he admitted with a smile on his face.

“I’m a competitive person,” he said. “You never want to come in last and you put the work in to be great and to get to that next level. That’s just the type of player I am.”

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