After months of speculation and indecision, five-star center Marques Bolden finally announced his college choice Thursday afternoon: He is coming to Duke.
The Blue Devils beat out Kentucky for Bolden’s services. The commitment of the 6-foot-10, 240-pound DeSoto (Texas) senior gives Duke the No. 1 recruiting class nationally, edging out the Wildcats for that distinction, too.
“We’re thrilled to add Marques to an outstanding incoming class,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said in a statement. “In addition to his elite length and athleticism, he is a highly skilled big man who can really score the ball. He runs the floor well, rebounds on both ends and blocks shots. Marques has tremendous potential and a bright future, and we’re excited to coach him at Duke.”
Bolden made his announcement at his high school gym (current Duke captain Matt Jones also attended DeSoto). After picking the Blue Devils and unzipping his jacket to reveal a Duke shirt, Bolden’s mother jumped up in excitement and said she hadn’t known his choice until that moment.
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Bolden said his relationship with the Duke coaching staff was the deciding factor. He joins ESPN’s No. 1 overall 2016 prospect, forward Harry Giles, the No. 3 prospect, wing Jayson Tatum, point guard Frank Jackson (No. 10), four-star forward Javin DeLaurier (No. 44) and Australian forward Jack White.
Bolden is ranked as the top center of the Class of 2016 and 15th-best overall player by the 247 composite rankings, which takes into account the rankings of all the major recruiting websites. Bolden is an elite post player who excels around the basket in all areas: shooting, rebounding and blocking shots.
According to the 247 composite index, Duke had the No. 1 recruiting class in 2013 and 2014 (Kentucky ranked No. 2). The Wildcats had the No. 1 class in 2015, with Duke right behind at No. 2.
The Blue Devils almost certainly will open the season as the No. 1 team. The talented freshmen will join All-American junior guard Grayson Allen, fifth-year senior forward Amile Jefferson, Jones and sophomore Luke Kennard, all of whom started last season.
With Bolden in the fold, Duke will have the luxury of bringing Giles along slowly, if that is what his recovery from his November ACL surgery needs. Bolden, Giles and Jefferson will handle minutes in the post, and some combination of Tatum, Allen, Jones, Kennard and Jackson will rotate on the perimeter.
Bolden acknowledged during an interview with Scout.com’s Evan Daniels that his recruitment dragged on too long. He was legitimately torn between Duke and Kentucky. For the Blue Devils, though, good things came to those who waited.