Blue needs another year at Marquette

Matt Trebby
Matt Trebby

When in Lexington covering Marquette during the NCAA Tournament, I tweeted out a thought that Vander Blue could forgo his senior season to enter the NBA Draft. That was met by a few people saying there wasn’t a chance he would do that.

Last week, I was shocked when I heard Blue was almost certainly leaving Marquette to pursue his dreams of playing professionally. It took me a bit to figure out why he was doing it.

Blue really must not want to go through another year of college basketball. Oklahoma State’s stud point guard Marcus Smart is returning to school when he is a top-five pick in this year’s draft. He wants to go back and play another year of college basketball, and apparently Blue doesn’t. Marquette’s leading scorer from last season wants to take a shot at playing professionally. Good for him. There’s nothing wrong with that.

No one can’t fault Blue for chasing his dream. That seems to be what thinks he is doing according to his recent tweets. There aren’t many people who don’t think Blue can play in the NBA. No one wants to necessarily see him fail, though. Instead, people want to see him go about chasing his dream the right way. A lot of people don’t think leaving after his junior year is how he should do it.

I’m one of those people. Blue will get a chance in the NBA, and – whether in the United States or Europe – will make a comfortable living playing basketball.

His draft stock is as high as it will likely get. If Shane Larkin is seen as a first round pick this year, Blue should be thought of in the same way – Blue is seen as a point guard in the NBA, which merits the Larkin comparison. But, just because his stock is as high as it will be doesn’t mean he should enter this year’s draft.

If you are going to be a good player in the NBA, it doesn’t matter when/if you are drafted. A team is going to give you a chance. If I was a prospect – likely as a corner-three specialist – if I don’t get drafted in the first round or the first 10 picks of the second round, I would be praying I go undrafted.

Just because you get drafted doesn’t mean you’re going to have more success than someone that goes undrafted. Granted, there aren’t always players like Wesley Matthews just waiting in the undrafted free agent pool, but being able to pick your situation is more preferable than being stuck with one team.

If Blue is being told he is going to be a first round pick, then sure, he should enter this year’s draft. If he’s not, then he needs to come back. If he stays healthy enough to play in 90 percent of Marquette’s games next season, he will get drafted. Blue would have a huge season as a senior. The team’s offense would go through him, and he would become an even better player. If he works as hard this offseason as he did last summer, more improvement will come.

After Marquette lost to Syracuse in the Elite Eight, I became convinced that Blue needs another year in college. He tried to take over that game, but he didn’t change anything in how he played. Blue kept on shooting threes – he was 2 of 9 from beyond the arc. He ended the game 3 of 15 from the field with 14 points, five rebounds, and four turnovers.

Blue isn’t going to be a star in the NBA, so he doesn’t need to work on being a “go-to-guy.” He needs to develop his jump-shot and learn to be a bit more patient in attacking the basket. I see him – through my impressive NBA scout-like eyes – as a Tony Allen type of player. He is a bit undersized to be a shooting guard, isn’t going to be a team’s first or second, or maybe even third option to score, and will make a living using his athleticism on defense.

Compare him to whomever you want and have whatever expectations for Blue. Another year at Marquette would do him wonders. If he’s a second round pick this year, why not return and become an even better player before pursuing that dream of NBA?

I wish Blue all the luck in the world, but all this talk of “draft stock” isn’t what he should worry about. The most recent former Golden Eagles needs to worry about becoming a better player, and he can improve the most at Marquette, with another year under head coach Buzz Williams.