When heralded freshman Marques Bolden sat out Duke’s exhibition victory on Friday night, Mike Krzyzewski told reporters he just wanted to “give him some rest” and get reserves Chase Jeter and Antonio Vrankovic more playing time.
Turns out there may have been more to Bolden’s absence than that.
Duke announced on Monday that Bolden has sustained an unspecified injury to his lower left leg. Doctors will reevaluate the 6-foot-11 McDonald’s All-American after this weekend, which would suggest he won’t play against Marist on Friday or Grand Canyon on Saturday and would put his availability is in doubt for next Tuesday’s Champions Classic matchup with Kansas.
Bolden is the third member of Duke’s decorated incoming freshman class to sustain an injury in the past month. Power forward Harry Giles underwent his third knee surgery in the past three years last month and wing Jayson Tatum sprained his left foot during a practice in front of NBA scouts.
With Giles not set to return until later this month at the earliest, Bolden had been expected to begin the season in the starting five alongside senior Amile Jefferson. Now the preseason No. 1 Blue Devils will probably either turn to Jeter or Vrankovic if they want to play big or the 6-foot-8 Tatum if they prefer to be smaller and quicker.
Duke is a clear-cut favorite to win the national title next spring if it’s healthy, but the early rash of injuries can only narrow the gap between the Blue Devils and the rest of the top contenders.
What’s more, at this point point guard Frank Jackson might want to cover himself in bubble wrap from now until tipoff Friday night.
He’s the only five-star recruit left in Duke’s incoming class that hasn’t sustained a preseason injury.
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