Marques Bolden Will Help Anchor USA Frontcourt At Nike Hoop Summit
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When Marques Bolden (DeSoto H.S./Dallas, Texas) takes the court wearing a USA Basketball jersey in the 19th annual Nike Hoop Summit on April 9 at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon, the 6-foot-10, forward/center will be playing for a new team in a new environment and for the first time by FIBA rules.
“I have no idea what I’m going to face, but I’m definitely looking forward to it,” Bolden admitted. “I’ve never played using international rules, so that’s something that is going to be new to me.”
Bolden and his USA teammates, which include many of the best high school seniors from around the country, will be taking on a World Select Team that will feature the best players from around the world who are 19 years old or younger.
One thing that will help Bolden is his familiarity with his USA teammates, most of whom joined him at the 2015 USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team minicamp this past October. Three others, like Bolden, are from the state of Texas, including Jarret Allen (Saint Stephen’s H.S./Austin, Texas), Terrance Ferguson (Advanced Prep International/Dallas, Texas) and De’Aaron Fox (Cypress Lakes H.S./Katy, Texas).
“I’ve known a lot of them for a while now,” Bolden said of his teammates. “Three of us are from the same state, and I’m really looking forward to playing with them in this event.”
Despite having just one USA Basketball experience under his belt, Bolden said he is aware of the prestigious alumni who have taken part in the Nike Hoop Summit. 178 former USA and World Select Team members have been drafted by NBA teams, including 13 alumni in the 2015 NBA Draft and 14 players in the 2014 NBA Draft.
“It means a lot to be able to compete in a game like the (Nike) Hoop Summit,” said Bolden. “There are plenty of great collegiate players and pro players that came through and played in this event.”
What he learned from the October USA minicamp certainly will help him in the Nike Hoop Summit.
“Really, just how hard all the people work,” Bolden said of his minicamp experience. “I didn’t know what to expect going in, so I really just had to go in and learn from the guys who had been there plenty of times before me. But, it was a good experience. I finally understood what USA Basketball is about, and how hard they work and how much pride they take in playing with USA.
“I think I did pretty good. I handled myself well and all-around and just played my best out there. I made a good impression on the people that were there.”
His performance in fact was good enough to earn him a spot on the 12-member USA Junior National Select Team for the 2016 Nike Hoop Summit that will be played at the Moda Center, and he thinks he knows what he will bring to the team.
“Just a physical presence inside and also being able to stretch the floor,” Bolden said of his skills. “That’s one thing I’ve been working on lately, is being able to stretch the floor. Also, I want to be able to become one of the leaders on the team, on and off the court. Talking on the court, having my teammates’ back and just being there for my teammates.”
Those likely are the same assets he provides to his DeSoto High School basketball team, which has earned its place at the University Interscholastic League state championship 6A semifinals, which is schedule for March 10. Bolden made it that far as a sophomore in 2013-14, but no further, and this year, he is looking to change that.
“It’s been pretty good,” Bolden said of his final prep campaign. “It’s obliviously not over yet. We are looking forward to two more tough games. So, it’s not over yet. We really have been playing well, and we are just trying to keep it up. I love the group of guys that I’m playing with. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
“It would mean a lot,” Bolden said of his state title hopes. “I’ve been to state before, but I’ve never came home with a state championship. I could never call myself a state champion because I never won. It would just mean a lot to me to come out on top.”
Whether it is a USA Basketball event or a state championship semifinal, Bolden said he is careful not to overthink things as he prepares.
“You try not to think about it too much,” he said of high-level competition. “Thinking about it too much really gets in your head and doesn’t do much for you most of the time. Really, you just try to play your best and have confidence. Never doubt yourself at all.”
A highly sought after recruit, Bolden has narrowed his list of colleges down to four schools: Duke University, the University of Kentucky, Texas Christian University and the University of Oklahoma.
“Really, just the relationship I have with the coaches and how comfortable I am with the campus,” Bolden said of what factors are important to him in a university. “Those are the main things, because I don’t want to go somewhere where I don’t like them or I’m not comfortable. The main things I’m looking for is a great relationship with the coaching staff and the type of lifestyle the college has.”
Bolden said that as a young boy he could not have imagined that he would end up in the position that he is in today. In fact, another sport was his first love.
“I started playing basketball at like the age of five, but I didn’t really like basketball at first,” he explained. “I was more of a football player. My parents had to kind of force me to play basketball. I grew so much and so fast that I really kind of outgrew football. But from there on, I have loved basketball ever since.”
The specific thing Bolden loves most about basketball is undoubtedly something that will be a tremendous help to him in Portland if the USA team members can gel quickly enough in the four days that they will have together.
“I just love how everybody comes together to play and how well five guys can work together.”
He admits, however, that the experience of playing for your country likely will be overwhelming.
“No, because I know I won’t be able to really and truly come up with that feeling,” he explained when asked if he had imagined what it will be like to represent the United States on April 9. “It’s obviously a great honor to be able to represent your country in the sport of basketball.”