Marques Bolden: It went pretty well. I liked the energy that the coaches bring to the program. It was a really good visit. With Rick Barnes before and all his assistants before, they had a more traditional style of doing things, but now it’s a newer and younger head coach and staff, so they bring in a different style of energy. They are doing a lot of different things with the programs.
What were the highlights from your meetings with Coach Smart?
Just first of all, they were saying they weren’t just looking for replacement type players, they were looking for basketball players. Then he was telling me about the type of players that they like to recruit and the type of offense he likes to run.
What are your thoughts on the new situation there with the new staff in place?
It’s a good situation, I’m really excited to see how they do this year.
Had Coach Smart and his staff already offered a scholarship offer prior to the visit?
Yeah they did. I asked them what was on the table with the offer from the previous staff because I had an offer from the previous staff, so I asked him if the offer was still basically on the table and he said, “yes, it is.”
Are they making you what appears to be the main priority in their recruiting class from your graduating class from what you can tell or have heard from them?
Yeah, I guess you could say that.
Let’s backtrack a bit from the recruiting discussion if I may to discuss how you view yourself as a player. Are you a traditional center or a power forward?
I’d probably consider myself more like a power forward, I do different things.
So with playing in college—how do you see yourself fitting in as a player alongside other big men who may be in a program?
I’m just looking at wanting to play with someone who has the same type of competitiveness as I do. College is going to be tough, so I know I will get stronger as a player by playing with someone who has the same level of competitiveness and toughness that I try to play with.
What’s a better situation for you when evaluating schools, do you prefer to go in as the primary post option, or would you prefer to be in a program with several bigs already there?
It depends on how I perform, I think I should come in and be a focal point guy but that not be how they run their offense, so it all depends on the style of program I go to.
Given your current status in your recruiting class as one of the top big men, have you thought about the length of your college career when it comes to early entry decisions?
I’m not really thinking too far ahead, I’m just really focused on making the right decision for college, then we’ll go from there.
Speaking of making the right decision for college—who is advising you through your process? What kind of questions are you guys asking as you evaluate programs for your potential fit?
I really ask a lot of questions like how do they play, what type of player are they recruiting me as, like a four or a five and really just watching a lot of tape and seeing how their coach really runs their offense. It’s not a concern if they are recruiting a lot of bigs because you are going to have competition wherever you go.
So if a program says to you that they really see you and want you to play the 5 spot in their system—what’s your reaction to that?
If a school says that it’s always good to be in that kind of situation, it’d feel pretty good but it also may not be ideal to just sit on the block because most fives are real big in college, so that wouldn’t be ideal.
So as you are evaluating programs for your fit—who do you think does a good job playing and developing bigs who play a similar style to you?
The schools that do a good job are probably Kansas, Duke, Kentucky and probably Louisville.
Just the previous success they have had with players like me at my position. I’m just really going off their tradition. So if they have had a lot of draft picks with guys at my position or a lot of players who come out of there are actually good in the pros that’s good, I’m just looking to see if they really develop their guys.
So with those 4 programs—if you feel like all 4 equally have done a great job developing bigs in the past—what then are you looking at to figure out if you like any of those programs more than the others?
Just talking it over with my parents and visiting the schools and just seeing if they have what I want to major in, would I be comfortable there. That’s about it.
Is there a major are you interested in since you are looking for that at schools recruiting you?
I don’t know yet. I haven’t thought about that too much.
You mentioned Duke in an earlier response—what’s the communication been like with them from when it first started to now?
It started off last summer but it’s really taken off this past month. I’ve talked with all of the assistant coaches and the head coach now. It’s really been picking up recently. Before, like say a month ago, I was only talking with one assistant coach and he’d be the main guy recruiting me. But now, I’m cool with like all of the staff. I’ve talked with like two or three of the assistant coaches and the head coach now.
Have all 4 Duke coaches emphasized different things to you in the different discussions—or has there been a central message they have all communicated to you no matter the coach?
They are all kinda sending the same message to me. They talk about how they do things a different way. That if you go to Duke you will be successful on and off the court and you can talk to Matt too because I went to high school with Matt and see what it’s like.
Have you and Matt Jones discussed his Duke experience so far? B
What was your thought process towards Duke as a program before they were recruiting you versus how you feel about them now?
I’ve always felt pretty strong about Duke even when they weren’t recruiting me before. And now they are.
What was it about them that made you feel strongly about Duke even before they started recruiting you?
Just the history with the Hall of Fame Coach they have. What they’ve done in the past and just how successful they have been over the years.
It’s been reported that Duke has extended a scholarship offer to you—can you share how it was presented?
I really just was talking with the assistants for awhile and then one day I was talking with the Head Coach, Coach K, and they just kinda offered. He was telling me that they don’t really offer all that many guys and how many guys they typically recruit year to year and who they were recruiting in my class. He said a lot of things.
What was your reaction to that conversation?
I mean, it was a good feeling being able to have a chance to go to a great program like Duke, it was a good feeling.
Is the timing of Duke’s offer coming a little bit later than others who have chosen to extend offers earlier—does that impact your consideration of them?
I mean yeah because I was getting ready to cut my list, so it affects things. My list cutting has been pushed back, probably August now.
Do you have any other visits lined up in the near future?
No I don’t. I’m hoping to visit Kansas again, Duke, Louisville, UCLA, I plan to visit a couple of program but I haven’t confirmed any other visits.
Do you have somebody who is kinda handling setting up visits for you—or is it all you and your family doing that?
It’s being handled by me and my parents, I don’t think there’s any visits being planned, not really.
When the list cut down potentially happens—you going down to a Top 10, Top 5 or something different?
Most likely a Top 10.
You think there are any programs recruiting you right now that it’s most likely a no brainer they will make the Top 10?
No, I’m pretty open at the moment.
After the Top 10 naming—what’s the remaining pieces of the plan for you and your family reference your recruitment?
We’re going to plan for that just as soon as I get to the 10 schools.
Is taking all five official visits something you’re committed to?
No. I’m going to take one at a time and see where it goes. It’s not really a first come type thing with the visit, I’m pretty open to everybody.