By Robert Wilson
It didn’t take long for St. Andrew’s Episcopal School alumnus Rashad Bolden to make an impact as a freshman on Southern Miss’ basketball program.
In fact, the 6-foot guard tied a school record in his second start.
Bolden tied a school record with 29 points in Southern Miss’ 80-66 victory over North Carolina-Wilmington in the Zootown Classic in Missoula, Montana.
Bolden made 11 of 12 shots from the field – fourth best shooting percentage in school history – and 5 of 6 from 3-point range and 2 of 2 from the free throw line in 31 minutes. He tied Bernard’s Haslett school record of most points by a freshman in 1991.
Bolden made his first start in an 81-75 victory over Lamar.
Bolden came into Wednesday’s game averaging 4.3 points and 15 minutes per game in the first four games for Southern Miss.
Bolden is the highest rated guard from Mississippi to sign with the Golden Eagles since Haslett, then Mississippi Player of Year, signed with Southern Miss in 1990. And Haslett became an instant star for Southern Miss, scoring 12 points in his second start to help the Eagles defeat Louisville for the first time in Louisville in 1991. He made the All-Metro Conference Team and went on to lead the league in scoring two seasons and led the nation in 3-pointers as a junior during his brilliant career at Southern Miss.
Bolden, known for his smart decision-making and shot selection, was considered the second-best college recruit in Mississippi behind McDonald’s All-American and Ole Miss signee Daeshun Ruffin of Callaway. Bolden averaged 26.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.4 steals and led St. Andrew’s to a 22-2 record and its third Class 3A state title in four seasons. He shot 49.2 percent from the field and 87.3 percent from the free throw line. Bolden was named the Mississippi MVP in the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Game in March with 25 points, 3 steals and 3 assists. As a junior, Bolden scored a combined 61 points and did not make a turnover in the state tournament semifinals and finals. He made a combined 29 of 31 shots from the line with 15 rebounds, 5 steals and 4 assists in those two games. Bolden was named to the first team on the Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Team for the past two seasons.
“Rashad was locked in tonight,” said St. Andrew’s coach Russell Marasalis, who coached Bolden his senior season. “I’ve seen him get that way and he’s hard to stop. His teammates knew he was getting hot early and kept getting the ball in his hands. Rashad is a volume scorer. I know him and his team has had some frustration the last two games, but you saw them click tonight. It was good to see him put it all together tonight. You saw glimpses of it in the first two games against Delta State and William Carey. Rashad has all the potential to be a star at Southern Miss. I’m extremely proud of him.”
“I think he is a great fit for Southern Miss. A true point guard who can also score can be hard to find these days and Rashad fits that mold. If you watch the NCAA Tournament, great guard play is a high meter of success for most teams. Rashad is a transformational player for any program. I have no doubt in my mind he will do the same at the next level. He has been proving people wrong his whole career and plays with a chip on his shoulder. His resume speaks for itself. He’s one of the most decorated student-athletes in Mississippi high school basketball history.”
Bolden’s father, Randy, was an All-State player at Forest Hill High and two-time SWAC Player of the Year at Texas Southern, and is in his first year as Mississippi College’s head coach.
Bolden and his teammates are already showing signs of improvement over last year when the Golden Eagles finished 8-17 overall and 4-13 in Conference USA. Southern Miss is 3-2 going into Thursday’s game against UC-San Diego in the second game at Missoula
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