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In three-plus seasons at Greenfield School, Dji Bailey has already left a mark on the Knights basketball program. The 6-foot-5 senior guard added to his legacy as he joined an elite fraternity last Wednesday, Nov. 13, when he signed his National Letter of Intent on the first day of the fall signing period to play at Wake Forest University. Monday morning, Bailey got to re-enact the signing before a school assembly in the Greenfield gym.
“It feels great!” he said. “A lot of stress gone. Just getting the process over with and finally making it official.”
Bailey becomes just the third Knight to sign with an Atlantic Coast Conference team, joining 2012 graduate Aaron Rountree, who played at Wake Forest, and Coby White, the Chicago Bulls rookie who played at North Carolina last season.
“It feels amazing,” Bailey said. “My god brother played at Wake, Aaron Rountree, and just to follow in his footsteps is just really great.”
A three-year starter at Greenfield, Bailey, who is thinking of majoring in business, committed to the Demon Deacons in May, pretty much shutting down his recruitment before it got too hectic. He said that he received one other actual offer, from Boston University, but had been receiving attention from other NCAA Division I programs such as Elon, UNC Wilmington, Kansas State, Charlotte, East Carolina and Rhode Island. However, he knew that Wake Forest was the place for him when he took his visit in September 2018.
“On my visit, it felt like a family atmosphere and I got to know the coaches very well,” Bailey said of Demon Deacons head coach Danny Manning and his staff. “I liked all the facilities there and it just felt like home. It’s close to home and has great academics.”
Manning was pleased to have Bailey as part of his four-player signing class this fall, along with forward Jaylon Gibson of Apex, guard Quadry Adams of New Jersey and guard Marcus Watson of Chicago.
“Dji is a multi-talented player who makes his teammates better,” said Manning in a release from Wake Forest. “He is talented on both ends of the court with his skill set and type of demeanor he displays. He comes from a rich basketball background with all of the teams he has played for.”
He’s played travel hoops for Garner Road for coaches Dwayne West; his brother David West, a former NBA player, and Chris Myatt, since fifth grade, after initially playing for the Anthony Atkinson All-Stars.
Bailey has emerged as an all-round player for the Knights, helped in part by a growth spurt that saw him grow six inches since his freshman year in 2016-17 when he first arrived at Greenfield, playing alongside White and Elijah McCadden, now a sophomore at Georgia Southern.
“I had to throw him into the fire as a freshman,” Salter said. “He was a little freshman for me that played such big minutes when we had Coby and Elijah here. Back then he was 5-11 and now look how he’s grown as much as his game, physically and athletically, and he’s really turned into a really, really good basketball player.”
Bailey, who towers over his parents, Sharon and Hart Bailey of Wilson, laughed when asked where his height comes from.
“Honestly, I don’t know!” he said. “Neither of my parents are tall and I’m the tallest one in my family. I don’t know where I got my height.”
However, it’s not just height that has gotten Bailey where he is.
“His I.Q. is off the chart,” Salter said. “He just knows the angles and he knows how to get his teammates the ball. He doesn’t even understand what a talent he is. I think he’s going to grow even more when he gets to Wake Forest and as he gets physically stronger. His athleticism has kicked in and he plays way above the rim now and, I’m telling you, everybody that steps on the floor with Dji Bailey loves to play with him because he’s so unselfish.”
Bailey helped the Knights reach the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association 1-A championship game each of the last two years. Greenfield won its fifth state title last February with Bailey averaging 12 points, nine assists and seven rebounds per game.
Bailey, who lists among his attributes his playmaking and passing ability, as well as his shooting, acknowledged that packing muscle on his frame will be a priority as he prepares for college.
But his ceiling is still rising, Salter said.
“He fills the stat sheet,” the Knights veteran coach said. “I tell people he’s always going to be around double-figure points and gives you assists, steals, rebounds. He does it all and that’s why people love him as a player. But the thing about is that he doesn’t have to score to be great. He does all the other stuff. He’s going to be one of the best passers you’ve ever seen so he doesn’t have to score to impact the game.”