Marques Bolden announces plans to return to Duke

Freshman center was expected to leave for NBA or transfer

Eamon Queeney—The North State Journal
Duke Blue Devils center Marques Bolden (20) scores over Maine Black Bears forward Vincent Eze (50) in the second half of the college basketball game at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham

DURHAM — In a surprise move, freshman center Marques Bolden announced that he plans to return to Duke next season. The school confirmed the news in a statement on Monday evening.After a year in which he battled injury and struggled to get consistent playing time, Bolden was rumored to be considering a departure, either to the NBA Draft or a transfer to another school.Bolden arrived on campus as a five-star center. Like classmates Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum, he was expected to be a one-and-done player with the Blue Devils.Like Giles and Tatum, Bolden suffered a preseason injury that delayed the start of his college career. A lower-leg problem caused him to miss the first nine games of the season. By the time he had worked himself back into playing shape, he struggled to crack Duke’s playing rotation.Bolden averaged just 6.5 minutes of playing time a game, averaging 1.5 points and 1.1 rebounds. He didn’t play in the final three games of the season–the ACC Tournament championship game and Duke’s two NCAA Tournament contests. The school released a statement during the tournament saying that Bolden was suffering from an illness.Since the end of the season, and Giles and Tatum’s declarations for the NBA Draft, rumors have swirled about Bolden’s future. On Sunday, a well-known internet message board cited team sources claiming Bolden would transfer to another school.Perhaps in response to that report, Duke confirmed that Bolden would return for his sophomore season.”Despite rumors about my future that have circulated in recent days, I’m excited to announce that I’ll be returning to Duke for my sophomore year,” Bolden said in the statement. “I have unbelievable support from my family, teammates and coaches. I’m ready to get to work for next season and I’m excited for what should be a great year for our program.””We’re thrilled that Marques will continue to be part of our program,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said in the school statement. “In addition to being a talented basketball player, he’s an outstanding young man from a great family. It’s unfortunate that his freshman season was impacted by injury, but he has an opportunity to have a great summer and a special sophomore season.”Sophomore center Chase Jeter already announced his plans to transfer. Bolden will battle for playing time in the middle next season with five-star signee Wendell Carter Jr., who scored 10 points in last week’s McDonald’s High School All-America Game.