Nov. 10 was very kind to Coach K and the Duke Blue Devils, even before the team took the floor for its 2017-2018 season opener.
Earlier in the day, No. 1 prospect R.J. Barrett committed to play in Durham during what many expect will be his only college season, and that continued an impressive trend for the program in attracting some of the best talent in the country.
One such player is current Duke freshman Marvin Bagley III, who made headlines by reclassifying in time to join the Blue Devils a year early. Friday doubled as his debut at the college level, and in short, the returns were absolutely tremendous.
Duke, who entered the season as the No. 1 team in the country, had no trouble with Elon in a 29-point victory, which was, of course, no surprise. Still, it was Bagley III who jumped off the screen throughout the evening, and he did so in record-breaking fashion.
The presumptive top-five pick in the 2018 NBA Draft finished the night with 25 points and 10 rebounds despite (relatively) limited playing time in the blowout, and he converted 12 of his 18 attempts from the floor. ESPN’s Stats and Info indicates that Bagley’s performance doubled as the best debut for a freshman in the lengthy history of Duke’s program, and for good measure, it was the most prolific offensive showing by a No. 1 recruit since the Worldwide Leader began tracking basketball recruiting a decade ago.
It has to be noted that there isn’t that much to take away from a game against an Elon team that was very obviously overwhelmed from a talent perspective. Still, Bagley III appears to be the real deal, and there is a reason that he is seen alongside prospects like Luka Doncic, Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr. and Arizona’s DeAndre Ayton as contenders for the top overall slot in June.