Over the course of the off-season, we’ve continued to take a look at some of the more talented incoming freshmen that are bound to tear up college hoops in the upcoming season. At this point, a good amount of those prospects happen to be heading to Duke University . So far, we’ve been able to take a look at the likes of Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum and Frank Jackson as incoming freshmen that could be potential one-and-done candidates. Unfortunately, we’ve glanced over one major incoming Duke freshman: Marques Bolden
That exclusion might’ve been the first time that anybody has ever overlooked Marques Bolden. Standing at 6’11 and 250 pounds with a 7’6 wingspan, Bolden is arguably the most physically imposing players in the NBA, let alone college hoops. To put that in perspective, Bolden’s frame is eerily similar to current Olympian DeAndre Jordan (6’11, 250 with a 7’6 wingspan) and former Duke big Jahlil Okafor (6’11, 277, 7’6 wingspan).
Bolden’s awesome frame allowed him to be a dominating force for DeSoto High School throughout his high school career. Although he established himself as an elite Texas prospect from the moment he put on a DeSoto jersey, his dominance was most prominent during his senior season. As a senior, Bolden averaged over 23.4 points, 10.2 boards and 2.6 blocks per game, as he helped push DeSoto to a Texas state title.
Although his phenomenal frame is probably the first thing that stands out when you look at Marques Bolden, the Duke freshman is more than just a huge wingspan. When you look past that great frame, you see a player that displays excellent quickness combined with solid determination. While that effort level does wane from time to time, Bolden’s basically an unstoppable force when he decides to work his ass off. An example of that is seen in the clip below. After missing a shot from around the rim, Bolden out-hustles a duo of opposing defenders until he can put in the vicious slam.
Offensive rebounds aren’t exactly the only part of Bolden’s offensive game. Over the course of his career at DeSoto, Bolden really developed into a player that’s nearly automatic from around the rim. The biggest example of that would be his work as a post-up player.
Whether he’s working on the right or left block, Bolden stands as an effective weapon. The 6’11 big displays excellent footwork inside those post-ups, as he’s regularly able to get open looks on his hook shots. Those hook shots are a vital part of his offensive game, as he displays great touch whether he’s working with his left or right hand.
Although it isn’t a huge part of his work in the low-post, Bolden shows flashes of being a solid facilitator. Like former Duke big Jahlil Okafor, Bolden does a great job of quickly recognizing his surroundings and knowing where his teammates are. That trait could be really beneficial when he arrives at Duke. As the opposition would close in on and possibly double-team Bolden, he’d be able to quickly work the ball towards an open perimeter shooter.
That great footwork has also allowed Bolden to be a solid threat in pick-and-rolls. His incredible frame has already allowed him to be a huge target for facilitating guards. However, he’s able to combine that huge frame with soft hands that allow him to catch anything thrown his direction. Once he catches the pass, Bolden utilizes his solid footwork to get in position to make the easy bucket.
Aside from those traits, Bolden is rather raw on the offensive end. Although he’s occasionally shown flashes of a mid-range game, Bolden’s offense is basically designated to around the paint.
Although he’s very solid from around the rim, and that label shouldn’t be a knock on Bolden’s offensive game, there’s eventually going to be some evolution where he can have a solid mid-range jumper. There’s definitely potential for him to make that evolution possible. During his senior season at DeSoto, Bolden shot 80% from the free throw line. That success from the charity stripe gives plenty of hope that Bolden would eventually evolve into a player that can spread the floor.
On the defensive end, Bolden’s skills are more cut and dry. Averaging 2.6 blocks per game during his senior season, Bolden does a terrific job of using his quick feet and 7’6 wingspan to work as a great help defender. His solid footwork allow him to quickly work his way towards the cutting guard and either block or hinder that shot. Even when the opposition doesn’t go directly at him, his athleticism and long wingspan allow him to sky in the air and put a hand on the shot.
Although he’s solid on this end of the floor due to his frame and athleticism, Bolden could make some improvements on having consistent effort on that end. Ocassionally, Bolden seems hesitant on attacking closeouts or moving away from the paint. He’s going to have to get away from that hesitant nature, because Bolden can go away from the paint and stop a cutting guard. An example of that is seen in the play below.
Even before he puts on a Duke uniform for the first time in November, Marques Bolden’s already one of the most physically imposing players in college basketball. Standing at 6’11 and 250 pounds with a 7’6 wingspan, Bolden has the frame that NBA coaches dream about in their modern-day big.
However, Bolden combines that terrific frame with a solid inside game, terrific defensive fundamentals and a real knack to continue evolving his all-around game. Those traits should allow Bolden to be an important part of a Duke Blue Devils team that could potentially be playing in the National Championship in April.