Throughout the 2018-19 season, the NBA future of certain Blue Devils lurked in nearly every conversation about the Duke squad.
Although this discussion focused almost entirely on the freshmen trio of Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish, two unexpected Blue Devils threw their hats into the NBA ring: Marques Bolden and Javin DeLaurier.
A release from the team on Monday morning announced that Bolden and DeLaurier would test the NBA Draft waters, and that each filed the proper paperwork before the April 21 deadline Sunday night. Neither Blue Devil will sign with an agent, and thus will have the opportunity to return to Duke in the fall if they decide in the coming weeks that their respective draft stock is too low.
Bolden came to campus with high expectations—the junior center was ranked No. 16 overall and the second-ranked center in the Class of 2016. In his freshman campaign, Bolden struggled with injuries and failed to carve out a consistent role, averaging only 6.5 minutes in his 24 appearances.
Bolden's sophomore campaign began on a more promising note, with eight-point, 10-rebound effort against Portland State and and a 17-point, 10-rebound performance against St. Francis (Pa.). But a knee injury sidelined the DeSoto, Texas, native for most of January, putting his breakout on hold.
The 2017-18 season ended on a positive note for Bolden, who finally showed flashes of what the former highly touted recruit could do. Bolden proved to be an efficient finisher inside and a trusted rim protecter, and led Duke in offensive rating during ACC play.
This year, Bolden stepped into the largest role of his career, earning the starting center spot to open the season. While health issues again plagued him in the middle of the season, Bolden was a consistent contributor to the ACC tournament champion Blue Devils. The 6-foot-11, 250-pound big man posted career highs in nearly every category, including an 8.4 block percentage, good for No. 49 in the country.
DeLaurier, a fellow junior big, was a defensive stalwart throughout his time at Duke. The Shipman, Va., native ended this season, and perhaps his college career, with a 10-point, 11-rebound, three-block performance against Michigan State in the Elite Eight.
Unlike Williamson, Barrett, and Reddish, who are all but locked in as top-10 draft picks, Bolden and DeLaurier's NBA value is not immediately clear. Bolden currently is not ranked in ESPN's list of the top 100 NBA prospects, though that may be due to the surprise nature of his declaration.
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