Five-star center Marques Bolden picks Duke over Kentucky

ByPaul Biancardi ESPN logo
Friday, May 20, 2016

Mike Krzyzewski's loaded, second-ranked recruiting class just got better.

In a news conference held Thursday at DeSoto (Texas) High School, five-star center Marques Bolden, No. 16 in the ESPN 100, picked Duke over Kentucky.

"I am happy this is over with," Bolden said. "You could tell this was a very difficult decision for me because it took so long. I was looking for the perfect situation and I realized that's not going to happen. I did not want to regret my decision; that's why I took so long. It's the biggest decision in my life so far."

The 6-foot-10 Bolden, the second-ranked player at his position, led DeSoto to a state championship and participated in the prestigious McDonald's All American Game this year.

"My goal is not only to be drafted in the NBA but to play in the NBA," Bolden said. "I feel Duke will best help me reach my goal."

Bolden's game is in the paint with his back to the basket and scoring with either hand at the rim. His girth and 7-foot-6 wingspan enable him to block shots, and more importantly for Duke, rebound outside of his space.

"Coach K has been coaching and has been extremely successful at the highest level longer than I have been alive," Bolden said. "He told me to trust him, and I do."

Going into the 2016-17 season, Duke returns more than 60 percent of its offense, including Grayson Allen and Matt Jones, the team's top 3-point shooters. Adding Bolden gives Duke a real interior presence.

The Blue Devils' class finishes with three top-10 players -- No. 1 Harry Giles, No. 3 Jayson Tatum and No. 10 Frank Jackson. This continues a recruiting tear for Krzyzewski, who had the No. 1 recruiting class in the previous two seasons.

Bolden is looking forward to playing for a team that can contend for a national championship.

"We have a chance to be really special next year," he said, "with who returns and who is coming in."