Five-star basketball prospect Marques Bolden is going to keep everybody guessing right up until the end, it seems, a fitting finish to one of the more perplexing recruitments in recent years.
Bolden — the No. 1 center in the class of 2016 — took all of his official visits last fall, then decided to wait on his college decision, then decided to wait a little longer.
That wait comes to an end — at least, it’s supposed to — at 2:30 p.m. EDT on Thursday, when Bolden is scheduled to announce his college destination during a ceremony at DeSoto High School in Texas.
Bolden is expected to pick either Kentucky or Duke, but, as of Wednesday afternoon, indications behind the scenes were that neither coaching staff had yet been made aware of his decision.
Scout.com national analyst Evan Daniels said Wednesday that it could still go either way.
“This has been one of the more intriguing recruitments to follow,” Daniels told the Herald-Leader. “Marques has really struggled to come up with a college choice, and I think he’s got a lot of people guessing right now.
“He’s held everything close to the vest. And I think he’s also been truly torn between the two schools that have recruited better than anyone in recent years. I think he’s gone back and forth. At different times in the recruitment, I think each school has led. It’s just been hard to navigate.”
The 6-foot-11 post player averaged 23.4 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.6 blocked shots this past season for DeSoto, which he led to a state title before going on to play in the McDonald’s All-American Game, Jordan Brand Classic and Nike Hoop Summit.
UK and Duke are both already rich with incoming McDonald’s All-Americans for next season, and whichever school lands Bolden will almost certainly end up with the No. 1 recruiting class for 2016.
Until Wednesday morning, UK technically didn’t have an open scholarship for next season, but that changed with the announcement that Charles Matthews would transfer out of the program. Marcus Lee and Isaiah Briscoe are also both still weighing the decision of whether to stay in this year’s NBA Draft, and the departure of one of those players would have opened a spot for Bolden.
With news of Matthews’ transfer, that’s no longer an issue.
Duke also has a scholarship to give with the recent announcement that point guard Derryck Thornton would transfer after one season in Durham.
In addition to the scholarship speculation, fans (and recruiting analysts alike) on both sides have parsed every angle in the lead-up to Bolden’s announcement.
Among the topics of conversation have been Bolden’s family (Duke is their school of choice, the popular narrative says), his social media habits (he followed UK coach’s son and future Wildcats’ walk-on Brad Calipari on Twitter this week), his wardrobe (reports out of Texas have indicated that he’s been wearing a lot of Duke gear in recent days) and John Calipari’s language in a tweet that followed up his latest “manifesto” Monday morning: “I know there are a lot of bold statements in there …” the UK coach said.
Bold statements, get it? Is there actually anything to get?
Countless other conspiracy theories have cropped up on social media and message boards as to why Bolden’s recruitment has taken so long.
Perhaps the actual reason for delay is also the obvious one.
“Sometimes, it’s just as simple as you don’t have your decision made,” Daniels said. “I think he’s certainly been a little indecisive, but, looking back, there have been plenty of players who have waited even longer than this.
“So, yes, he’s drawn it out a little. But it’s really not that abnormal.”
Marques Bolden announcement
When: 2:30 p.m. EDT
Where: DeSoto (Texas) High School
Online: Follow @NextCats on Twitter for updates and watch Kentucky.com for news of the decision.