DeSoto (Texas) star Marques Bolden should sleep a lot better in the coming days.
The 6-foot-11 center recently told USA TODAY Sports that he was often “up alone at night” pondering the decision on where he should attend college; on Thursday he ended the process picking Duke over Kentucky. The public announcement occurred during a ceremony at his school.
Bolden spoke with USA TODAY High School Sports about why he opted for Durham, N.C.
“Duke gives me the best chance to be able to develop into the player that I want to be,” said Bolden, who forged a close bond with associate head coach Jeff Capel and assistant coach Nate James throughout the recruitment process. “I’ll get to learn from the best and I’ll be able to play with a special group of guys. It was a tough decision, but I feel like Duke is the best decision for me.”
Bolden, who is ranked No. 16 overall in the ESPN 100, averaged 23.4 points, 10.6 rebounds, 2.6 blocks and shot 80 percent from the free-throw line in route to leading the Eagles to a state title.
The addition of Bolden will undoubtedly give the Blue Devils the country’s No. 1 recruiting class. Before Bolden’s commitment, Duke was ranked No. 2 behind Kentucky.
He joins Forest Trail Academy (Kernersville, N.C.) forward Harry Giles III, who is ranked No. 1 overall; Chaminade College Prep (St. Louis, Mo.) forward Jayson Tatum, ranked No. 2; Lone Peak (Highland, Utah) point guard Frank Jackson, ranked No. 10; St. Annes-Belfield (Shipman, Va.) forward Javin DeLaurier, ranked No. 44; and Australian wing Jack White.
“It means everything,” Giles said in a text message. “We love him here and I can’t wait to play with him.”
Texted Tatum: “We’re lit!”
Duke checked in at No. 1 in USA TODAY Sports’ College Basketball Super Early Preseason Top 25 for 2016-17 before adding Bolden.
“With great abilities comes great responsibilities so I feel like we’re all gonna be ready for the expectations,” Bolden said. “All of the guys in our class know that we’ve got a lot to prove. We’re playing with guys who have already won a national championship, but they’re hungry for another one. I know we’re ready to get down there and work. I definitely feel like we’ve got what it takes to win a national championship.”
As for the Duke-Kentucky recruiting rivalry, this is another piece:
“There’s always going to be another one with these two,” Scout.com analyst Evan Daniels said. “The past four classes, they’ve each ranked No. 1 or No. 2 (nationally). It’s pretty clear these two schools are recruiting the top prospects in the country better than anyone. The winner of this battle is just the winner of the battle, but it’s not the winner of the war. I don’t think this is stopping.
“The rivalry between the two is certainly growing, and it doesn’t appear that either side really cares for the other.”
Here’s what Duke is getting in Bolden.
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY