The Duke Blue Devils likely just ensured they'll be the preseason No. 1 team when the 2016-17 college basketball season opens.
Blue Devils forward Amile Jefferson just got approval for a medical redshirt by the ACC, allowing the senior big man to return for a fifth year in 2016-17. This past season, Jefferson played just nine games last season before a foot injury sidelined him in December. though he tried to come back, he just couldn't return in time and will now be back for Duke next season.
Before the injury, the 6-9, 225-pound forward was averaging a career-high 11.4 points, 1.4 blocks and 10.3 rebounds in 30.1 minutes per game.
Why does that matter to Kentucky?
With Jefferson back and top-ranked forwards Harry Giles and Jason Tatum coming in to join a sophomore Chase Jeter, the Duke frontcourt is suddenly very deep and not presenting much room for another big to come in and play a lot..
Such as Marques Bolden, who continues to sit and decide between Duke and Kentucky for next season. With Jefferson back, it's going to be hard for him to go to Duke and earn 20+ minutes per game, let alone secure a starting role.
At Kentucky, Bolden could easily become the starting 5 man with Bam Adebayo at the 4, who likely plays the 5 if Bolden goes to Duke.
I don't think the Jefferson news is surprising to Bolden now as this was in the works for awhile, but at the same time, Jefferson occupying so many minutes in the frontcourt has probably helped keep Bolden from picking the Blue Devils, given how torn he's been between both schools. Maybe Jefferson not being there was the ever-so-small edge that would have given Duke the five-star center.
Also, Scout.com’s Evan Daniels gave the Lexington Herald-Leader a minor update on Bolden, which simply reiterates that the big man is still heavily weighing both schools.
"The status is the same: He could decide at any second, but this thing could also be pushed back a couple weeks," said Daniels. "Nothing would surprise me."
Bolden is expected to pick either UK or Duke, but there’s no indication when that will happen. The prolonged recruitment has led fans on both sides to read into what the delay might mean for their school.
"I don’t think it matters," Daniels said. "I think he’s just trying to sort it out and is having trouble picking between two schools. I know that seems too simple, but I think it is that simple."
Bolden Watch 2016 continues...