Thursday, March 20, 2014

Down Goes Bagley! New National #1 Player

EJ Montgomery Overtakes Bagley as The No. 1 8th Grader in Country

It's a debate quietly going on in the youth basketball circles, in many gyms, scouting meetings, AAU circles and even college recruits.  Whereas the easy and popular option is to go with Marvin Bagley as #1 in the country at P2 we challenge this theory with E.J. Montgomery.  Professionals who simply follow the crowd and do not analyze will tell you Bagley; those who have seen both and evaluated their skillsets may not answer as quickly or as expected.

Let's delve deeper into this, E.J. Montgomery (6’10”) or Marvin Bagley (6’9”); a question that could shape the ESPN Top 100 and shape a college programs recruiting class in four short years.  We actually believe there is an obvious long-term answer as to who is the nation’s better prospect.
To date, each has had spectacular videos released from Montgomery’s workout to in camps performances or Bagley’s alley-opps and transition slams.  Yet, even with their upsides being presented so often as with any 8th grader they have weaknesses that will need to be improved upon.

Tale of the Tape 

Though Montgomery and Bagley are roughly the same height they do not play similar positions, and they both take on vastly different roles for their respective teams.  Montgomery is a ball-handler and he touches the ball all over the court very often initiating the offense. This is not the case of Bagley at WACG All Stars, were there are multiple strong players on the roster and the ball is more evenly shared; and frankly due to this talent level Bagley is rarely used as a half court scoring option and scores easily in transition as his teammates must be honored.  Bagley role is more athletic and opportunistic – very rarely is he featured on post or wing isolation's and this system doesn’t allow him to flourish as it relates to featuring his perimeter skills like ball handling and jump shooting.

Creating Own Offense

Montgomery and Bagley have both exhibited primetime scoring ability. At this point, it's Montgomery who is more likely to be able to transition to the next level as he is more versatile with the ball making him a more potent and efficient scorer. Bagley isn't quite there yet in terms of being able to take the initiative as a ball-handler which makes his ability to produce as a go-to guy an incomplete grade at this point. Bagley has been forced to lean on his athleticism to make plays as a finisher of the ball - honestly speaking a great majority of Bagley’s points/baskets comes on put-backs off offensive rebounds.  Unfortunately as well, Bagley has relied heavily on his great quickness and leaping ability to score, as opposed to his actual basketball skills, which is what Montgomery relies on in his versatile rapporteur.

Perimeter Scoring 

Bagley has recently shown an expanded game and lots of upside, Montgomery has always and still maintains a more varied and advanced perimeter skillset; E.J has an arsenal of moves on the perimeter that either Bagley doesn’t have or hasn’t been able to show in the current offense he is in. Montgomery has shown the ability to create and make his own shot as a shooter from practically any position on the floor. And it could very well be the difference that will allow Montgomery to open as the High School #1 player in this class. Montgomery has a number of tricks for creating separation and getting great looks.

The good news is that Bagley has been seen recently showing some shot-creating skill of his own, but he isn’t close to knocking them down with the consistency of Montgomery.  We believe the reasoning for this is a shaky handle that prevents him from separating into a clean, smooth delivery. Strangely the more dribbles Bagley seems to take before a jumper, the less chance it has of going in.  Still, when Bagley is in a grove, feeling it and confident, he is a more than capable scorer from the outside. He's just not at Montgomery’s level yet in terms of being able to consistently create high-percentage shots for himself outside the paint.  

As a pure shooter we again must give Montgomery the edge though they are not that far apart – Montgomery has shown more consistency in from the mid-range and downtown and both shoot well from the line. Right now, its clear that Montgomery is more comfortable from 25 feet away than Bagley is. Let it be stated that jump shooting and perimeter shooting is some they each control and can always improve with time; but its nice to enter the high school scene with jumper that can be counted on. Bagley will at some point have to prove he is a effective jump shooter as defenses at the next level will force him to his weakness, as well it would be beneficial for Bagley to also improve his handle, which would allow him to create better looks for himself as a perimeter scorer. Playing with someone in addition to his WACG team that would feature him as a perimeter option would be a wise step to take as well.

Attacking off the Bounce 

While Montgomery is the much smoother perimeter player of the two, Bagley is flat out electrifying when it comes to attacking the basket. This is where Bagley has dominated and exhibited is enormous upside.  He has ridiculous athletic ability and can hit a seam no matter the size and get to the tin with explosive ability; better than anyone in the class and the country at the MS age group.
Montgomery will sometimes settle for perimeter shot instead of pressuring the defense and challenging them in the paint as he doesn’t have the same first step quickness that Bagley has exhibited. Due to this, Montgomery has sometimes got himself into situations were shot selection could have been better.  If there is one glaring concern for Montgomery it is his one on one game and translating that off the bounce to an opportunity at the rim.  We have noted that Montgomery sometimes will pass up drive to the basket for a perimeter shot which is a naturally lower percentage deal.  Another interesting determination made between the two is due Montgomery’s more perimeter orientated game and Bagley playing as primarily as a post in the paint – Bagley goes to the line more often and of course scores from there more often.

E.J continues to grow as a perimeter attacker and taking advantage of his opportunities.  Yet, it’s likely that this will remain a second tier part of his game while this will always remain part of Bagley’s primary focus – long and athletic with very good feet there is no one you would want more as a finisher on your break.  Bagley can get you things in transition that no other player can at this juncture.  With Bagley's ability to score in transition he can be more effective when his shot isn’t falling by virtue of the fact that Bagley will score a few easy transition buckets that he wouldn’t have in the half court like Montgomery, based on his ability to attack the rim.


People love Montgomery’s offensive versatility; at 6’10” he can play the game from the inside and outside with effectiveness.  At 6'9", Bagley isn't strong enough yet to be considered a future post presence, but then again what 8th grader is – but from a skill perspective only, Bagley lacks the tools Montgomery has on interior to make his presence felt when his athleticism cannot dominate his opponent.  

On the Block

For Montgomery you can’t mention his name without talking about an immense set of skills.  The block is one of Montgomery’s spot that he has shown effectiveness as a scorer and passer.  A task to guard on the block Montgomery can overwhelm with his size or power and can create separation to shoot over either shoulder. Recently we have seen a very nice fadeaway and turnaround come into the picture.  Again, LONG TERM players like Montgomery who can force a doubles and can handle and pass do magical things for offenses and court spacing and teammates.  When his shot isn’t falling what a great secondary option this becomes in the scope of his game.  Bagley doesn’t have this level of versatility; using his athletics gifts instead – this difference will impact the carry over to the high school level very much.

On the Boards

Bagley is currently the better rebounder and will likely maintain this advantage throughout – as he plays primarily around the basket and his supreme athletic ability.  Bagley has consistently shown great rebounding prowess.  Montgomery on the other hand is more of what we call an out-of-position rebounder; he often comes in from the outside and grabs boards in traffic, but isn’t the same in natural half court situations.

Defensive Ability

Regardless of what anyone says, Bagley’s defensive will outshine Montgomery’s overall.  Bagley has the athletic ability to guard anyone.  Great foot speed and quickness coupled with a super long wingspan he may be able to guard 4 to 5 positions in High School and 3 to 4 in college.  Bagley due to how easy the game has become in this aspect and being that he is rarely challenged can lose focus and attention ~ in turn intensity; but when he is locked in not many will be able to score consistently.

Montgomery with all of his versatility; defense may never be his calling card.  He doesn’t close out on the perimeter as quickly as we would like to see – his east to west movement also will need to improve to become a lockdown defender – but at 6’10” any coach worth his salt will be able to put him a position where is can affect the game positively on the defensive end; adding aggression and toughness which require a mindset will bring him to where he needs to be.  The deductions for athleticism we give Montgomery let’s be clear he is no stick in the mud. We have seen him do things around the rim Bagley hasn’t and steals the ball at a higher rate due to playing the passing lanes and natural perimeter players.  Montgomery is not a liability in any way but there will be quicker guards and forwards that he may not match up well against man on man.


Montgomery doesn’t fly across the country to play with a “All-Star” Team; in turn he doesn't have the same national profile as Bagley.  Yet he still plays against top competition and  EJ’s growth trajectory will likely be better than Bagley which will show itself sooner than later due to having the ability to practice with the same group of players.  EJ is getting more consistent coaching locally vs simply traveling to compete in games, though this the growing nature of youth basketball at a high level and shouldn't be frowned upon; ultimately the consistent voices will pay dividends as they can see and actively address weaknesses via film study and training for specific weaknesses.  By virtue of this Montgomery has an expanded team role and greater game specific responsibility.  These are the small things that lead us to give the nod to EJ Montgomery in the intangibles department. 


There is really no “wrong” answer here and both are great players with future high major and professional potential.  But, only one of these two have been running a total #1 national player program that is absent of mistakes ie. program selection, coaching selection, training selection.

                             Montgomery versus Bagley

EJ Montgomery
        Marvin Bagley
Perimeter Offense  

Attack Offense



April 1, 2014 P2 will release the final 2018 National Class ranking as well as the rankings for all other Middle School Age Groups.  E.J. Montgomery will be our consensus #1 Player Nationally as he is currently the most complete player between the two. With all due respect to Bagley he will open at a respectable #3 and will likely have the biggest potential upside, but he must catch other and pass them to realize this – who is #2  and who holds all the other positions is every class check back April 1st to find out! 

                                    "Motor City Madness" May 17th & 18th, 2014

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Also top players from across the nation that are looking to be seen and to be ranked and to get that key word; exposure – join us May 17th and 18th in Detroit for “Motor City Madness”- click link below to register now.

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