Vander Blue hopes to continue Marquette NBA legacy
JUN 21, 2013 1:40p ET
ST. FRANCIS, Wis. -- It's been over two months since Vander Blue decided to forgo his senior season at Marquette University and declare for the NBA Draft, and the long process of preparing for the draft is finally winding down.
Blue has jumped from city to city, trying to show teams he's worthy of a pick in next Thursday's draft. Friday's workout with the Milwaukee Bucks at the Cousins Center was Blue's 10th, so he's rarely had time to breathe, let along think about the critics analyzing his decision to turn pro.
"I really don't pay attention to it that much," Blue said. "What other people say about me doesn't really effect what I do. I'm going to live my life and they are going to live their's."
Mock drafts aren't anywhere near the determining factor in where a player will get drafted, but the good ones can be a nice indicator of where teams are valuing certain players. All of the major mock drafts have Blue going undrafted, but Bucks director of scouting Billy McKinney feels Blue can be a second-round pick.
"He had a really good workout today," McKinney said. "He's been working out well at some of the camps we've seen him at. He was in New Jersey. Teams have been playing him on the ball to see what he can do as a point guard. He's showed he can handle the ball a lot better than we've seen at Marquette.
"He could go anywhere from early second round to middle second round. If somebody likes him enough at the end of the first round given his athleticism, he could get drafted there."
The criticism has been heavy because Blue gave up a lot at Marquette. If he had returned, the Golden Eagles would have likely been a preseason top-10 team and a legitimate Final Four contender. Personally, Blue could have cemented his legacy as one of the best players in school history with another deep NCAA tournament run, but he saw an opportunity in this draft, one that's as wide open as any.
"It was harder to leave my degree," Blue said. "I really wanted to finish that, but I wanted to strike the iron while it was hot, as well. Obviously, leaving my teammates was hard, because I'm the type of guy that likes to be around my teammates and hang out with my friends. At this level, I'm already telling that you are by yourself. I'm not used to that, being in a hotel room alone, not being around my teammates. It's something you have to adjust to."
McKinney sees this draft as one where you could see some surprises.
"It's very possible," McKinney said. "Every year that's very possible, but especially in a draft year like this year. There could be some surprises, much like last year with Henson dropping down to 14. This year's draft not being as stable as last year, there's a possibility some guys could go up."
The questions surrounding Blue have not changed. He's an undersized shooting guard in the NBA without a deadly shot to make up for the size, but he's also an inexperienced point guard, since he never played there at Marquette.
During his workouts, some teams have worked Blue on the ball, while others have looked at him off the ball. The Bucks had Blue play a lot at point guard during Friday's workout, but also see him as a combo guard.
"He doesn't have to (play point guard), he certainly doesn't have to," McKinney said. "He has the size to play the shooting guard, but he's going to have to shoot the ball more consistently and with range. One of the things a guy like Vander has to look at to make an NBA roster, he's an incredible athlete that can defend, he might have to change his game a little bit. He might have to come in and be a stopper, as opposed to a scorer."
Blue said he's got similar feedback from most of the team's he's worked out for.
"Teams are saying just a combo guard," Blue said. "I can get past pretty much anybody I want to. I can bring it up, but I can play off the ball just as well. I don't think at Marquette I got the chance to bring the ball up as much because we had a great point guard in Junior (Cadougan). Just being able to show teams that I can play the point has really helped me.
"I'm willing to do whatever the team needs me to do. If they want me to bring the ball up and get people involved more, I can do that. If they want me to get up and down and shoot more, I can do that. Whatever a team needs, I'm willing to do."
Throughout the process, Blue has kept in contact with Marquette players in the NBA, including getting an invitation to attend Game 4 of the NBA Finals from Dwyane Wade. Blue feels the success other Marquette players have had in the NBA will help teams be drawn to him.
"A lot of coaches want to have a Marquette player, a guy that's tough, a guy that's willing to do whatever it takes," Blue said. "A guy like Jimmy (Butler) who comes in and guards LeBron the whole game and never misses a practice. That's just the way we are built. That's just the way Buzz (Williams) has taught us, and (Tom) Crean and Wade. Those guys have helped me a lot."
With one workout to go Monday in Memphis, Blue has put his best foot forward. Now all he can do is sit and wait for next Thursday night. According to Blue, Atlanta, Philadelphia, San Antonio, Indiana, Houston and Detroit all have shown significant interest in him.
"Right now, I'm not sure where I'm going to land," Blue said. "At this point it's about me getting my foot in the door and trying to establish a successful career. I'm not concerned about where I get in, as far as what pick, it's more about what team. All I want is to have an opportunity to get my foot in the door and build from there.
"I wouldn't have declared if I didn't think I was ready or I didn't think I could play at this level. I've gone against some great guys, I've competed against the best, I've outshined some of the best. It's all about getting that one team to like you. That's the good thing about this business. If you get one team to love you, that's all that really matters."
But there's still a chance Blue could go undrafted. McKinney said he doesn't think Blue is in danger if he isn't picked, because he could then sit down with his agent and figure out what team offers him the best fit.
Former Marquette star Wesley Matthews went undrafted and established himself in the league quickly. Blue is prepared to go through the process and earn his way onto a roster if his name isn't called next Thursday.
"I'm pretty sure I can get on a summer league team, play summer league and work my way onto a roster," Blue said. "It's never over. But I'm feeling good going into the draft. Nobody knows where, but I think I'll hear my name called. If not, I'll still be ready. I'll get ready for summer league and go from there. It won't be over, though.
"I hope for the best, but expect the worst. That's how I live. It wouldn't be devastating at all. It just means I have a little bit more work to do. It's not about where you start, it's about where you finish. I want to have a long career in the NBA. I just don't want to get there and say I'm in the NBA. I want to get there and establish myself."
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