Hoop Summit Provided New Challenge For Bolden

PORTLAND -- As one of the premier big men in the Class of 2016, Texas native Marques Bolden is drawing a lot of attention these past few weeks.

PORTLAND -- As one of the premier big men in the Class of 2016, Texas native Marques Bolden is drawing a lot of attention these past few weeks.

The unsigned senior has gone through the McDonald's All-American Game and the Nike Hoop Summit the past two weeks as the 6-foot-11 Bolden has had a chance to match up with some of the best competition in the country.

The experience in Portland was also an important one for Bolden because it's another chance to learn with USA Basketball.

"It's been great," Bolden told TDD. "I've only been to one USA event, which was a training camp. I don't know if you can really count a training camp, so it's been a fun experience being out here and having fun in Portland with these guys."

While the McDonald's game is more of a run-and-gun showcase where guys can get greedy and not get big men the ball, the USA practices at the Nike Hoop Summit are very organized and include big men every step of the way. There's also the camaraderie of the group playing with "U-S-A" on their chest.

"The difference is how together this team is. The McDonald's is an all-star game and everybody is just trying to have fun and play their way," Bolden said. "But we're here to try to accomplish a goal and that's to win this game. I just like how everybody is coming together and playing unselfishly."

During the past few weeks, Bolden has had a chance to match up with a lot of elite big men, which has been beneficial to him after playing against a high school schedule that didn't feature a lot of competition that could hang with him.

"[These events] really just show how much more aggressive I need to be," Bolden said. "Playing at the high school level I didn't play a national schedule. So really, just the competition level and being able to compete and play [is important].We went like 35-2 and didn't have a lot of tough competition at all. So for me you really have to pick it up in this event."

The USA practices also stressed to Bolden how the game is evolving, with big men now being expected to do more out on the perimeter. The McDonald's Game gave Bolden a lot of back-to-the-basket touches that let him go to work during the practices, but the USA team utilized Bolden in a lot of high ball screen situations.

"I'm trying to really get accustomed to it because that's what the game is turning into," Bolden said. "We really don't have centers or anything like that anymore. [So I] just try to really spread the floor out, knock down jump shots and go out for pick-and-rolls. I'm really trying to get used to it. 

"I try to work on stretching the floor and being able to go around people and pick-and-pop and stuff like that. Because that's what most people are looking for now. Somebody who is mobile and who can play multiple positions and everything like that."

From here, Bolden will participate in the Jordan Brand Classic, and at some point, he'll make a college decision once he's comfortable at a specific program. There's a lot of strong buzz for Bolden entering the final senior all-star game, as he measured with a 7'6" wingspan with a 9'4.5" standing reach -- both outstanding marks for a center.

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