Vander Blue waited for his wave and rode the first one out of Marquette.
After generating little-to-no NBA buzz his first two-and-a-half years in college, Blue had a monster NCAA tournament he'll use to bait scouts and executives. Despite the general consensus being that Blue needed another year to put it all together, he chose to sell when his stock was high with hopes of landing a first-round guarantee.
Blue was limited offensively during his first two years at school. He averaged 5.1 points as a freshman and 8.4 as a sophomore, making a combined 12 three-pointers between seasons.
But as a junior, Blue expanded his arsenal to the point where he became the team's go-to scorer. He finished his junior year averaging 14.8 points and came up big late in games of the NCAA tournament.
Blue went for 16 in a second-round win over Davidson, scoring the game-winning layup in the closing seconds. He then came up big in a two-point victory over Butler, registering 29 points in the third round and followed with 14 in the upset of No. 2-seeded Miami.
The kid was on a roll, and he decided to test his luck in an NBA draft with a crackable first round.
Blue has the athleticism and build of an NBA 2-guard, though he's slightly undersized at 6'4''. He's around the 200-pound range, but he's got the shoulders and arms that look like they can handle some extra muscle.
With substantial length and good bounce, Blue has the physical tools to land an NBA roster spot. It's the rest of his game that will determine whether that dream comes to fruition.
Blue is best attacking the rim when the driving lane is available. He's got the ability to accelerate and hit the gap, along with the reach and touch to finish on the move.
Here is his first game-winner of the year, a buzzer-beater to knock off St. John's after a strong take to the rack:
Now check out his game-winner against Davidson in the second round of the NCAA tournament:
Two similar plays with similar results. Blue has shown he can get to the basket and finish with either hand in traffic.
Where Blue really improved this year, though he still has a ways to go, is with his perimeter scoring repertoire. He was separating in the mid-range and pulling up in space.
Considering he plays off the ball, it's also important for him to pose as a reliable spot-up three-point threat. At this point, he's capable, not reliable, but there's clearly room for growth here. He made 40 threes total as a junior.
Watch below as Blue waits for the ball screen, then uses it to create space for a pull-up jumper:
Blue shined defensively for coach Buzz Williams and projects favorably as a perimeter defender at the next level. He's quick, active and aggressive, with the ability make life uncomfortable for ball-handlers whether he's defending them or not.
Here's an example of Blue shooting the gap, making the strip and taking it coast to coast to give Marquette a second-half lead over Butler in the NCAA tournament:
Given Blue's athleticism, length and lateral quickness, scouts will give him a check mark in the defensive category of their evaluations.
Weaknesses and Challenges
Though Blue expanded his offensive game, he didn't convert at a high enough clip. Very few shooting guards can be successful NBA players without a jumper, and Blue has the tools to have a good one.
But he shot just 30.3 percent from three this year, which was actually a career-high.
Blue's jumper needs to be considered reliable in order for coaches to give him a shot. An undersized 2 who can't shoot is going to have a tough time making a roster, never mind cracking a rotation.