About a week ago, reports surfaced that Vander Blue, a top 30 recruit in the class of '10, was going to decommit from Wisconsin.
This is nothing out of the ordinary. Blue is a local kid (he plays for Madison Memorial) and committed to the school when he was 15. There are a million reasons why Blue could have decommitted. Maybe the point guard didn't want to be stymied in the Badger's grind-it-out offense. Maybe he wanted to follow former Memorial players Wesley Matthews and Jeronne Maymon (the '09 AP Wisconsin player of the year) to Marquette. Maybe he just wanted to see what other schools were an option.
But during a press conference on Tuesday, Blue offered some clues as to why he was re-opening his recruitment. From the Journal-Sentinel:
Blue stressed he didn’t re-open his recruitment because of a published report in which a source raised potential academic obstacles or because some UW fans, after reading the report, used the Internet to criticize his intellect and work ethic.To the best of my internet sleuthing, this is the article that was referenced by the Journal-Sentinel.
Listen to what he had to say.
“Just to see how these so-called Wisconsin fans, what they had to say on those blogs,” he said, “it really made me second-guess: Do people really want me here?
“Because I know if I was a fan and I heard about a recruit I’d be more like: ‘What can we do to help him?
“And not: ‘Let’s make him feel like the worst person in Madison right now.’
“That is how I felt. I felt like I was in a corner, trapped and I couldn’t get out…
“I just felt like it was so unnecessary. I don’t think I’m that worse of a guy. Sometimes I might be tired and have a little attitude…I don’t think I’m a horrible person.
“These 40-year-old adults talking about somebody who don’t got their license yet. I just felt it was so unnecessary…
“Picture yourself in my position. Rumors going around, you’re just keeping quiet. And you read the article and 1,000 people throwing you under the bus, trying to find every reason, saying: ‘Good, we don’t want him here.’
“It just made me feel bad like I was worthless here.”
Personally, I have two reactions to this bit of news. First of all, Vander, if you ever read this, quit crying man. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that you probably dream of playing in the NBA one day. If you want to reach the league, playing major college basketball is all but a prerequisite. One of the things you have to come to grips with is that the top tier college basketball programs have rabid fan bases, and during the off-season (when there is no basketball or football to be found) these fans are going to spend their time breaking down the every move of their school's recruits and potential recruits.
Face it, even as a 16 year old junior, you are a public figure in this day and age. If you can't handle a couple anonymous posters on some Wisconsin blog (who may or may not actually be Wisconsin fans, how do you know they are Marquette students trying to tarnish your view of the Badgers?), how do you plan playing a road game in the Big Ten?
My advice - stop reading the blogs, get in the classroom and make sure there are no academic issues, then get in the gym and work on your game. If you can't handle the scruntiny, go to UW-Stevens Points. They have a pretty good D3 program, and I'm sure they would love a top 30 recruit.
And how dumb do these Wisconsin fans have to be? Anonymous or not, why would you EVER post that you don't want a top 30 recruit to come to your school? Bo Ryan is not John Calipari. He does not have Mickey D's all-americans knocking down his door.
If the academic rumors were true, you really have no idea why he is struggling in the classroom, either. Maybe his parents are going through a rough patch. Maybe his girlfriend dumped him. Hell, maybe his dog died. Go back to when you were 16, and think about how any one of those scenarios could have seemed like the end of the world. Yes, it is just as likely that he was slacking off in class, but my point is that none of you actually know.
My gut feeling on this one? I bet Blue ends up at Marquette. Not because of the blogs, not because of academics, but because Buzz Williams runs a much more guard-friendly offensive attack, and there is a pipeline from Blue's high school to Milwaukee.
Regardless, Badger fans, maybe we want to play nice from this point forward? Just a thought.