Jonah Anthony Bolden (born 2 January 1996) is an Australian professional basketball player for Maccabi Tel Aviv of the Israeli Premier League and the EuroLeague. He started his professional career with FMP, where he was named the ABA League Top Prospect in 2017. He was selected by the Philadelphia 76ers of the National Basketball Association (NBA) in the second round of the 2017 NBA draft with the 36th overall pick.
He is the son of an American former pro basketball player Bruce Bolden, and moved to the United States as a senior in high school. A highly ranked college recruit, he played college basketball for the UCLA Bruins. Bolden was ineligible to play with the Bruins in his freshman year in 2014–15 after the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) ruled him a partial-qualifier due to his transferring as a high school senior. After playing with UCLA as a sophomore, he left the school to play professionally in Serbia. He also played for the Australia national under-19 basketball team in the FIBA Under-19 World Championship in 2013.
Bolden was born in Melbourne to American father Bruce Bolden and Egyptian mother Marie Yacoub. His father played pro basketball, including 17 years in the National Basketball League in Australia. Jonah played at Homebush Boys High School in Homebush, New South Wales, a suburb of Sydney, before moving to the United States in 2013 to play as a senior at Findlay College Prep, a private preparatory school in Henderson, Nevada, near Las Vegas. However, his high school eligibility expired after his first semester and he transferred midseason to Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire.
In December 2013, Bolden chose to play college ball at UCLA over Louisville, Kentucky, Indiana, USC, and SMU. A consensus four-star recruit, he was listed as the No. 25 player in his class by Scout.com, No. 32 by Rivals.com, and No. 69 by ESPN.com, while also being ranked as the No. 5 power forward by Scout.com.
Bolden was a redshirt in his freshman year at UCLA after he was ruled ineligible to play in 2014–15. Before the season, the NCAA declared him a partial-qualifier, stemming from his transfer from Australia when his senior year in high school has already began. In January 2015, he was cleared by the NCAA to practice with the Bruins. In May, he underwent arthroscopic surgery for a torn meniscus in his right knee that was expected to sideline him for six to eight weeks.
A 6-foot-10-inch (2.08 m) guard capable of playing either forward position, Bolden entered 2015–16 as the Bruins' projected replacement for wing player Norman Powell and combo forward Kevon Looney, who both moved on to the National Basketball Association (NBA). However, his college debut was delayed after he violated unspecified team rules and was held out of UCLA's season opener, an 84–81 upset loss to Monmouth. He made his first appearance the following game, making an impact on defense while scoring 11 points and adding five rebounds in an 88–83 win over Cal Poly. On 12 December, Bolden played 30 minutes and had 10 points and 11 rebounds for his first career double-double in a 71–66 road win over No. 20 Gonzaga. UCLA coach Steve Alford inserted him into the game to guard a hot Kyle Wiltjer, who finished with 20 points but shot only 4 of 12 for the remainder of the game. Tony Parker had the initial defensive assignment, but Bolden provided more athleticism and mobility. In the following game against Louisiana-Lafayette, Bolden made his first career start when center Thomas Welsh was out sick, and the Bruins won 89–80. While he emerged as UCLA's top player off the bench, Bolden's impact on offense was minimal.
After UCLA struggled on defense while starting 3–5 in their Pac-12 Conference schedule, Alford believed their front court was "slow" and moved Bolden into the starting lineup at power forward in place of Parker against Washington State. Bolden scored only three points, but his defense helped the team win 83–50 for their largest margin of victory of the season. On 14 February 2016, he led the team with a career-high 16 points to go with nine rebounds in a 78–65 win over Arizona State. The Bruins lost their final five games of the season to finish with a 15–17 record. Bolden made 11 starts, and averaged 4.6 points and 4.8 rebounds in 21.7 minutes in 31 games. He ranked third on the team with 27 blocks.
Bolden felt that he was underutilized during his first season. During the offseason, he hoped to move to small forward, the position he was recruited to play, but he remained in a big man role, even with reserve Gyorgy Goloman healthy again. Possessing potential talent to play in the National Basketball Association (NBA), Bolden decided to forego his remaining two years of college eligibility and play professionally, despite having already missed out on declaring for the 2016 NBA draft.
Bolden signed with FMP Beograd of the ABA League and the Basketball League of Serbia, where he played both forward positions. On March 15, 2017, Bolden was awarded the ABA League Top Prospect title after averaging 12.9 points and 7.2 rebounds per game in his rookie season. He also averaged 4.2 three-point field goal attempts per game, making 41.9 percent, and added one steal and one block per game.
On June 10, 2017, Bolden signed a two-year contract with Crvena zvezda. Twelve days later, Bolden was selected with the 36th pick of the 2017 NBA draft by the Philadelphia 76ers. In July 2017, he joined the 76ers for the 2017 NBA Summer League. Before even suiting up for a single regular season game for the Crvena zvezda, on July 21, 2017, Bolden signed a three-year contract with the Israeli club Maccabi Tel Aviv.
National team career
Bolden played for the Australia national under-19 team at the 2013 FIBA Under-19 World Championship in the Czech Republic. He played in eight of the nine games that Australia competed in, averaging 2.6 points and 2.9 rebounds while playing 10.1 minutes per game. His top performance was a nine-point game against Senegal.