Marques Bolden had a rocky adjustment to the college game as a freshman and did not score in the ...

Duke men's basketball 2016-17 player review: Marques Bolden

Marques Bolden

Season Breakdown:

After missing the first eight games of the regular season with a lower-leg injury, Bolden never reached his full potential in his freshman season despite infrequent bursts off the bench. Bolden did not score in the Blue Devils' last 10 games of the season and did not play in their last three, sitting out their two NCAA tournament games due to flu-like symptoms.

It was not as if Bolden did not get his chances, but the Desoto, Texas, native could not stay on the court in most games because he would get into foul trouble early and often, coming to a climax in the last game he appeared in—March 10 in the ACC semifinals against North Carolina—when Bolden picked up two fouls in just one minute on the court as he struggled to contain a tough Tar Heel front line. Bolden’s on-court struggles started with foul trouble and continued as his playing time and confidence on the offensive end shrunk throughout the season.

However, Bolden did flash his abilities in a few matchups this season, giving hope for a major jump next season if he chooses to stay—a decision that may have been impacted by fellow frontcourt mate Chase Jeter’s decision to transfer at the conclusion of the spring semester. In victories against Miami and Wake Forest at, Bolden led the charge off the bench with a combined 14 points and five rebounds, as he was able to give Duke some much-needed minutes to relieve starters Amile Jefferson and Jayson Tatum.

Results relative to expectations:

With Jefferson entering the season as the Blue Devils' only experienced frontcourt player, Bolden was expected to play big minutes. But the 6-foot-11 big man was clearly overwhelmed at the beginning of the season when he returned from injury, forcing Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski to opt for a small-ball lineup featuring Tatum at power forward.

Even when Jefferson was clearly hobbled with a foot injury in the middle of the season, Bolden still could not grab some minutes from the graduate student, reflecting his inability to adjust to the collegiate level after dominating the high school ranks just a year ago. The freshman center could not have fallen further from his expectations heading into the season as a five-star recruit, one of the main reasons why the Blue Devils struggled with depth and got bounced in the Round of 32 of the NCAA tournament.

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