For the first time since 2016, less than four Blue Devils were selected on draft day.
After teammates Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish all heard their names called in the first round of Thursday’s NBA Draft, Marques Bolden finished the evening undrafted.
In the immediate aftermath of the draft, Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype reported that Bolden inked a deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Bolden joined Williamson, Barrett, Reddish and fellow big man Javin DeLaurier as the five Blue Devils who initially decided to test the NBA Draft waters. DeLaurier eventually decided to return to Durham for his senior season, with Bolden foregoing his last year of NCAA eligibility to begin his professional career. Playing time would have been sparse had the Desoto High School product came back for his senior campaign, with No. 2 overall prospect Vernon Carey Jr. likely snagging next year’s starting center role.
A 2016 McDonald’s All-American, Bolden committed to the Blue Devils as the No. 16 overall recruit in his class—according to ESPN—and second-ranked center. Current Brooklyn Nets starting big man and former Texas Longhorn Jarrett Allen was ranked one slot above him. But Bolden struggled through an injury-plagued freshman campaign, averaging 6.5 minutes per game, before taking a backseat to the dynamic duo of Marvin Bagley and Wendell Carter Jr. the following year.
This past season, however, Bolden finally showed flashes of what made him such a highly-rated prospect. The 6-foot-11 big man started a career high 21 games, averaging 5.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.7 blocks across 19.1 minutes per contest. He has been acclaimed as a solid shot-blocker—best exemplified by his seven-block performance against a Final Four-bound Auburn squad in Maui—and finisher around the basket, though has proven to be extremely inconsistent and could struggle with the speed of the NBA.
With commitment on improving his game and fine-trimming his weaknesses, though, Bolden could find a role as an NBA rim protector for years to come.
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