The ongoing investigation into finances surrounding amateur basketball have cast an ongoing shadow over some of college basketball’s most talented young players. Chief among them is Marvin Bagley III, Duke’s uber-talented freshman who is sure to be a top five pick in the forthcoming NBA Draft.
While Bagley III and Duke escaped any punitive measures during the FBI’s initial investigation into youth basketball finances, that doesn’t mean it will remain so in the future. In fact, according to an investigation by The Oregonian and OregonLive.com, the Bagley family may have been one of the more notable beneficiaries of direct sneaker company aid in the youth basketball scene.
For the Bagleys, it appears the path out of financial straits was paved by the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League squad called the Phoenix Phamily, a group organized and coached by Marvin Bagley Jr., Bagley III’s father. Shortly after taking the reins of Phoenix Phamily, the Bagley family relocated from a working class Phoenix suburb to ritzy Southern California and a neighborhood where average houses sell for $1 million and more.
In fact, Bagley Jr. apparently wasn’t even hiding how important the compensation he and the family received from Nike to run the program, as chronicled by the Oregonian:
Bagley Jr. in 2016 acknowledged to Sports Illustrated that the family was relying on the Nike sponsorship and an athletic apparel company he was starting up “to make ends meet.”
Once in California, the younger Bagley enrolled at Sierra Canyon, a private school in Chatsworth where tuition now tops out at $36,250 a year. BMWs and Mercedes frequent the student parking lot, and the school’s celebrity roster includes kids named Jenner and Kardashian.
While all those facts may be true, it doesn’t necessarily provide a smoking gun to connect the Bagleys with illicit funds.
That doesn’t mean what happened wasn’t ethically wrong, nor does it mean that Bagley III had anything directly to do with Nike’s mechanism of delivering funds to his family. No accounts that have come to public light intimate that Bagley III was involved in his family’s connection with Nike, beyond wearing the merchandise that was sent his way.
Still, at least one significant journalist has pointed out the blatant workaround the sneaker companies have devised for funneling cash to an elite prospect in an earnest attempt to call a spade a spade:
“If a dad is coaching an AAU team that is sponsored by one of the big shoe companies, that is plainly just a way for the shoe company to dump a bunch of money in the lap of the parent of the young star,” journalist George Dohrmann told the Oregonian.
“Everybody knows that, right? It’s a joke.”