MAUI – Marques Bolden came to Durham in 2016 as one of the top recruits in the nation. The 6’10” McDonald’s All-American, who picked Duke over Kansas and Kentucky among others, was thought by some to be one of several “one-and-done” prospects in 2016’s top-ranked recruiting class. But now, after three (somewhat disappointing) years, Bolden finds himself as the veteran leader on a different Duke squad featuring electrifying freshmen, taking on a much different role than he expected when he entered college as the best big man in his class.
Maybe was the warm weather, or the electrifying environment in the Lahaina Civic center, but after years wait-and-see, Marques marveled in Maui – going 4-5 from the floor for 11 points, snagging 9 rebounds (including 5 offensive boards) and changing the game with 7 rim-protecting blocks.
After the game, Bolden talked about some of the criticism he’s faced during his Duke career and how he’s always stayed positive.
“Just by staying positive and trusting the work that I put in. We have a great coaching staff that’s willing to help me whenever I want it. So for us to just work as hard as I’ve done these three years has been good. I really don’t pay much attention to a lot of noise. I know that my coach and my teammates have my back, so that’s really what matters most to me. And for us to come out and get this win today against a Top-10 team it means a lot.”
Coach K added that for much of his three years at Duke Bolden has battled injuries.
“One thing I would like to mention for Marques — remember Marques, this is the first year he’s been healthy the whole time. So he has continuity of preparation, shape, and it’s a big thing. It’s a big thing. He’s made the most of it. He’s really gotten in great shape and he’s taken great care of himself and as a result he’s good. And he’s good and he’s healthy.”
The Blue Devils know how a healthy, rim-protecting Marques changes the game and makes an already scary-talented Blue Devil squad even more frightening.
“We’re a lot better as you see,” Tre Jones said after the win. “We knew all along what he was capable of doing. We knew he could play like this. It was only a matter of time for it come out in games. So hopefully he can stay like this and he can bring us to the next level.”
Duke advances to the Championship game of the Maui Invitational for the sixth time in six trips and will face #3 Gonzaga Wednesday at 12pm (5 pm EST) on ESPN.
- Duke is now 18-0 all-time in games played in the Maui Invitational, including 17-0 in games played in the Lahaina Civic Center.
- Bolden’s 25 minutes matched a career high.
- The seven blocked shots by Bolden were a career high and tied the Maui Invitational single game record.