We should soon see a conclusion regarding five-star center Marques Bolden.
Though Bolden had previously set a deadline of April 18th to make his college choice, he extended it to later to mull over his decision a little longer, and no one can blame him when the two finalists are Duke and Kentucky. Bolden would be a huge addition to the Blue Devils or Wildcats as those are widely viewed as the top two teams in college basketball next season.
Bolden is not only regarded as the best high school center, but one of the best overall prospects in the 2016 class. He's ranked 11th overall by Rivals.com, 16th by ESPN, 8th by Scout.com, 18th by 247 Sports.
Speaking of, Bolden's 247 Crystal Ball has frequently changed this offseason, though five of the last six picks have either been for UK or 'foggy', which probably should be 100% of his predictions as no one seems to know whom Bolden will pick.
Had Bolden decided in April as originally expected, it's safe to think Duke was going to be the pick, which is why the Blue Devils still lead in his CB. However, the longer Bolden has waited, the more and more uncertainty began to cloud what his ultimate decision will be.
And the longer he waits may be a good sign for UK as John Calipari even said this week, without mentioning Bolden directly, that he's willing to wait.
"If a kid wants to come and walk on our campus in September, I’m alright with that," Cal said. "I don’t really care. The reason is to come here, you have to be sure this is what you want or you should not come here. This thing is on. This is not for funsies here. My thing is whatever happens, happens. However this stuff plays out for anybody, obviously, that’s the extent of what I can say."
Now, Bolden is believed to be making a decision at some point this week, possibly aligning with Friday's 'Decision Day 2016' at DeSoto High School, an event to allow their senior students be honored based on where they're going to college or if they're attending the military.
This is an ideal week for Bolden to make his decision for several other reasons, among which being Marcus Lee making his final decision on whether to stay in the NBA Draft or return. If he comes back to UK, not only do the Wildcats suddenly have to find another way to make room for Bolden, but a senior Lee will make it a lot harder for Bolden to just see the floor next season.
There's also the fact that May 18th is the final day for high school seniors to sign a National Letter of Intent. That's also the date for which Duke Summer School Sessions I & II begin as incoming Blue Devil signees make their way onto campus.
It certainly looks like Duke expects all incoming signees to be enrolled and on campus then:
✅ Locker room is ready for the new guys pic.twitter.com/4JCl5fL0xn— Duke Basketball (@dukeblueplanet) May 10, 2016
A sign they don't expect Bolden to come? I doubt it, but you never know...
Now, it's time for out staff to give their predictions on where we think Bolden ends up.
I really think this is a toss up and won't buy into anything coming out until the decision comes out of his mouth. It's been too one-sided for both UK and Duke over the past few months to feel too confident about either school, even if UK does have the momentum as his announcement nears.
But I've seen that card played far too many times in recruiting: Recruit favors School A, but to drum up interest in his announcement, puts it out that School B looks like the pick, only to 'surprise' everyone by picking School A in the end.
The problem is it's hard to tell who's School A and B between UK and Duke with how Bolden's recruitment has gone. In the end, I'm giving the edge to UK, but will not be surprised at all wherever he goes. Assuming he makes his decision this week, it really is hard to call which way it goes, but if it goes beyond that May 18th deadline, that would really bode well for UK.
And one other thing to go with Steve's point below: I do think the addition of Bolden is far from a big deal in terms of this year's team, because as he says, there's only so many minutes to go around. However, I do think Bolden is UK's best or second-best big man if he comes.
Too many recent UK recruiting experiences have put me off the prediction train. Need I say more than "Skal"? If more is better, and more and more is better yet, sure, Marques Bolden seems to strengthen the class. But ultimately, Calipari has to create a depth chart and allow more minutes to those who've earned them.
Is Bolden better than the impressive Bam? Will he qualify for more court time than Sacha or Wenyen?
There are only 80 minutes a night for the 4 and 5. I know what the scouting reports say, but they've been wrong before. So much of it has to do with chemistry and fit, and that doesn't emerge until these guys are living,eating, practicing, working out and gaming together.
So with or without Bolden, I think this is a marvelous group with unlimited upside. I know we say that nearly every year, but this one is unusually so.
By the way, I think we don't get Bolden. I think he listens to Mom and chooses Duke. (He said something interesting about wanting to be important and make a difference wherever he goes. Both classes are loaded, but I think he sees a better fit at Duke. Who knows?)
I think Bolden could be a big difference-maker for the Cats this upcoming season, but if I had to make a prediction, I would guess he will commit to Duke. The parents of recruits play a huge part in where they decide to go, and with Bolden's mom pitching Duke, it's hard for me to see him opting not to go to Durham.
Bolden would immediately come into Lexington and create arguably the best frontcourt in college basketball with Bam Adebayo, Sacha Killeya-Jones, Wenyen Gabriel, Derek Willis, Isaac Humphries, Tai Wynyard, and others.
With that frontcourt and guards that can rebound (especially with the hopeful return of Isaiah Briscoe), it's easy to imagine the Cats being one of the top rebounding teams in the country.
Without Bolden and the news that Marcus Lee seems to be intent on heading to the NBA, Issac Humphries has to spend this spring and summer training and working on his game because he will be a key contributor. Humphries would see a substantial increase in minutes, and he needs to prepare for that.
I think Bolden ends up at Kentucky. He is extremely close with the 2016 Kentucky recruits and with the likely departure of Marcus Lee, he will be The Man in the Middle for Kentucky. With him added to the fold, it takes Kentucky from a REALLY good team to a potentially great team.
If Bolden pans out as a true back to the basket center that can score with either hand, then Bam Adebayo can move to the power forward position at 6'9 of athletic solid muscle and absolutely abuse people. Then off of the bench, Calipari will have options with Sascha Killeya-Jones, Tai Wynyard, and Isaac Humphries.
With Amile Jefferson being granted another year of eligibility for Duke, Marques Bolden to Kentucky seems like the likeliest circumstance. The front court is going to be overly crowded for the Blue Devils, with not much starting competition available.
For Kentucky, there is a starting spot fairly open for Bolden to compete for. Bolden would add more inside scoring for the Cats, not much of that so far besides Bam, and help with the team chemistry. Bolden is extremely close with the other recruits, especially De'Aaron Fox.
What say you on where Bolden ends up?