Vander Blue Declares for NBA Draft, Adding to Marquette's Hectic Offseason
Marquette's tumultuous offseason continued early Tuesday morning when Vander Blue, the team's leading scorer from last season, declared that he will forgo his senior season and enter the NBA draft.
In just one week, Buzz Williams has lost four players from his 2012-13 team that took Marquette to the Elite 8 for the first time since 2004. Point guard Junior Cadougan and forward Trent Lockett also graduated, making for a total of six departures.
Jake Thomas got the ball rolling a week ago by announcing his decision to transfer. Shortly after, freshman guard Jamal Ferguson declared his intent to transfer, as well.
Yesterday, Marquette announced via Twitter that it was granting starting forward Juan Anderson a release. Anderson averaged only 13 minutes and 2.7 points per game this season. He plans on going to a school in his native California to be closer to his family.
The biggest departure is certainly the most recent one. Blue was arguably Marquette's best player and was its best option on offense. Blue averaged 14.8 points during the regular season and got hot during the NCAA tournament, averaging 18.3 points during the team's Elite 8 run.
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Blue can drive the lane and is pretty good around the net, but his shooting ability isn't NBA-caliber. He is only a 30 percent three-point shooter and a 45 percent shooter overall. ESPN's Chad Ford ranks Blue 19th at his position and 76th among all draft entrants.
Many believed that Blue needed another year to develop and could have used his senior season to improve his draft stock. Blue thought otherwise, and once he signs with an agent, there is no turning back.
Blue's absence will leave a big dent in Marquette's offense, but the team still has plenty of depth returning. Center Chris Otule is coming back for a sixth season. Big man Davante Gardner is also returning, and the two could become one of the best frontcourt duos in the country.
Forward Jamil Wilson is a tall, athletic shooter who could emerge as a top scorer after another offseason of development. Guard Todd Mayo has been touted as Marquette's most talented player and should improve after a full offseason without any academic problems. Derrick Wilson is the only other backcourt player returning, and he needs to improve his offensive skill set to go with his defensive prowess.
Forward Steve Taylor, Jr. could be the biggest wild card on Marquette's returning roster. Taylor averaged only 8.6 minutes per game as a freshman, but if he can improve defensively, he could be a big producer coming off of the bench. If he does improve, Marquette could have one of the strongest front courts in the country.
Williams has brought in the 11th-best recruiting class in the nation, including two players in ESPN's top 50 and three ranked in the top 55.
Marquette is used to losing its best players to the draft. Just last season, it lost leading scorers Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder to the Association. The Golden Eagles did just fine, if not better than in the previous season, winning 26 games and a share of the Big East regular-season title, and advancing to the Elite 8 of the Big Dance.
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