About two-and-a-half months ago, Madison Memorial standout shooting guard Vander Blue decided to re-open his recruiting after deciding he was not set on going to the University of Wisconsin.
Rumors swirled about why Blue, a 17-year-old Madison native, decided to re-open his commitment that included Marquette freshman Jeronne Maymon and parents trying to convince him to play at Marquette.
Another rumor involved a Badgers beat writer leaking private information during a meeting between the school and Blue that seemed to suggest Blue was not serious about his studies. Blue’s parents were angered that it shed a negative light on their son, and blamed Wisconsin for it.
One myth was that Wisconsin message boards showed hateful comments against Blue after rumors swirled that Blue was going to re-open his commitment. After Blue supposedly read the message boards, he felt unwanted, and decided to continue looking at his options.
Whatever the case or reasoning was behind Blue’s decision, it was still made, and teams are now free to pursue one of the hottest shooting guards in the 2010 recruiting class.
Currently, Blue is slated as the 48th ranked prospect in his respective class on ESPN’s Top 100, and 31st overall according to Rivals.com.
The scouting report on Blue is that he can play either guard position, though he is listed as a shooting guard. He likes to have the ball in his hands, but is a pure scorer that loves to drive off the dribble.
With great size (6′3″) and a good body to build some more frame (180 lbs.), he is a potential NBA Lottery pick whenever he decides to take his game to that level.
For now, he still needs to find a home in the NCAA, and is keeping all of his options open. While Blue has not come out and given a list of schools that are in a particular order, the word on the street is that Wisconsin is still the frontrunner.
In April of 2008, right after his sophomore year, Blue committed to Wisconsin because he feared that not having a school chosen by the time his senior year rolled around would interfere with his high school basketball career, and the ability to keep his grades up.
As time passed, his junior season saw him steal the show in the Wisconsin State Playoffs, which were ultimately won by his team, Madison Memorial.
Despite teammate Jeronne Maymon taking the Mr. Basketball award for the state of Wisconsin, it was Blue who stole the show in the tournament, and that increased his stock considerably.
This was another reason why Blue might have re-opened his recruiting. As high profile and close to home as Wisconsin was for Blue, the chance to play for Duke or Carolina is something not many can pass up.
So, 13 months later Blue de-committed from the school he had chosen and opened things back up. Blue has stated that he would like to stay close to home, but that it would not be the final factor in deciding where he goes. Still, Wisconsin is about as close to home as he could get, and would allow his mother to come to see him play in person all the time.
Another reason to believe Wisconsin is still very much in the running is that Blue’s decision to look further into his options was more because of his own desires, and not because of anything Wisconsin did.
I am not one who believes the article on Blue and his academics would be enough to sway a kid from leaving a school he wanted to go to for over a year. He wanted to explore other options, and see what would come his way after a breakout junior season.
Outside of the front-runner Badgers, the next two teams on Blue’s radar include Billy Donovan’s Florida Gators and Sean Miller’s Arizona Wildcats.
Donovan actually took a visit to Wisconsin earlier this month to see Blue play, and has shown a decent amount of interest in the Madison shooting guard.
With Nick Calethes heading to Greece, and Jai Lucas transferring, there will be lots of playing time in Gainsville over the next couple of years.
Making Florida even more enticing is shooting guard Kenny Boynton. Blue and Boynton would head one of the best back courts in the nation, if he decides to attend.
For Arizona, Sean Miller looks to be rebuild a program that will have open spots in the near future as well. Nic Wise will be a junior next year, but, with a good season, could be a Lottery pick in next year’s draft.
The Wildcats recruited primarily big men in 2009 after losing power forward Jordan Hill and small forward Chase Budinger to the draft. Lamont Jones from Oak Hill Academy represented the only guard recruit. Playing time will again be a tool to use on Blue, as well as the up-tempo style that they play.
Other teams that have shown interest in Blue and vice versa include the Tennessee Volunteers and the UCLA Bruins. Blue is expected to take official visits to both schools as he decides on a school.
Despite completing a summer school class in geometry, as well as a prep ACT class, Blue will need to continue his hard work entering his senior year if he wants to qualify as a freshman a year from now.