Utah Jazz ink deal with former Duke basketball big man

Duke basketball center Marques Bolden, now with the Utah Jazz (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball center Marques Bolden, now with the Utah Jazz (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports) /

A 23-year-old Duke basketball product could find a home with the Utah Jazz.

This week, the Utah Jazz signed former Duke basketball center and third-year professional Marques Bolden to a preseason deal.

Now, Utah has reached the NBA’s 20-player limit for the ongoing training camp in Las Vegas and upcoming preseason slate (beginning at the San Antonio Spurs at 6:30 p.m. MT Monday). And in addition to its two allotted two-way players, the franchise has penciled in 14 out of 15 roster spots for the regular season (beginning at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Oct. 20).

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From Bolden’s point of view, all of the above means that the 6-foot-10, 250-pound solid big man is one of four who is currently trying to convince the Jazz decision-makers to fill the 2021-22 roster’s one last remaining opening. MaCio Teague, Derrick Alston Jr., and Malik Fitts are the other three.

What Marques Bolden could provide the Utah Jazz

Marques Bolden started more than half of the Duke basketball games in his third and final college season. He did so alongside Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, Cam Reddish, and Tre Jones.

Yes, any current NBA fan should now be quite familiar with most or all of those four youngsters.

Although those 2018-19 Blue Devils fell a few points short of reaching the Final Four, they pulled off an impressive 32-6 overall record. Furthermore, the primary starting five, including Bolden, was arguably the most electrifying in the program’s illustrious history.

Considering that Duke squad was must-see TV — even more so than usual — one definite positive on Bolden’s resume is his experience under the bright lights. Also, he sometimes displayed loads of individual potential as a lengthy, athletic, positive-minded Blue Devil big.

Perhaps his best highlights came in a thrilling win over Auburn at the 2018 Maui Invitational. Throughout the bout, which took place the week of Thanksgiving and drew millions of ESPN viewers, Bolden was entirely in sync with Zion & Friends. The junior contributed 11 points and nine rebounds to go along with his game-changing seven blocks while exhibiting several NBA traits.

However, Bolden’s lack of refinement in the paint and limitations outside of it often showed at Duke. As a result, the former Dallas-area five-star prep, who arrived in 2016 as part of the same heralded recruiting class as Jayson Tatum, went undrafted in 2019.

He’s since spent parts of the past two seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers — playing in a total of only seven games — via a mix of two-way, Exhibit 10, and 10-day contracts.

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Of course, one nugget potentially working in Marques Bolden’s favor is that Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder is also a Dukie.