Strengths: Following two seasons of underwhelming play, Marques Bolden is finally fulfilling the true center role in his junior season. Bolden makes use of his 6-foot-11, 250-pound frame and has asserted himself as the Blue Devils’ defensive anchor, leading the squad in block percentage. The former five-star recruit’s coming out party came Nov. 20 against then-No. 8 Auburn, with 11 points, nine rebounds and seven blocks.
Weaknesses: During the Blue Devils’ remarkable comeback against Louisville, Bolden was nowhere to be seen, riding the bench in the contest’s final 10 minutes. Although it happens with less frequency compared to his first two campaigns, the DeSoto, Texas, native can be forced off the court at times when the game dictates a faster pace and mobility on the perimeter. Bolden improved his lateral quickness this offseason, but he still can be beat off the dribble when switched onto a speedy guard.
Aspect of matchup to watch: Bolden sizes up pretty evenly in terms of size and play style with Garrison Brooks, North Carolina’s starter at the five—defense-first centers who defer to more potent scorers in the starting lineup. Should Bolden keep Brooks off the offensive glass, the duo will likely equalize each other. However, if the Tar Heels favor a smaller lineup with freshman phenom Nassir Little inserted for Brooks, Bolden will likely be relegated to the bench.
This is one of our five starter breakdowns heading into this weekend's matchup with North Carolina. Check out our reports on Tre Jones, R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson and Cam Reddish and find the rest of our rivalry coverage here.