The rumors have been swirling for more than a week, and this morning came confirmation of what's become the worst-kept secret at Marquette: junior guard Vander Blue, who emerged as MU's leading scorer in 2012-'13 and became a national story with his stellar play in the NCAA Tournament, will forgo his final season of eligibility at Marquette and make himself available for selection in this year's NBA Draft.
It's a move that's been met with a healthy dose of skepticism around the Interwebs, with ESPN's Jason King dubbing it the most baffling decision in this year's Draft, CBS Sports' Jeff Goodman blasting it as a "head-scratching" choice, and plenty of Marquette fans wondering if the people Vander's been consulting with truly have his best interests at heart.
The criticisms and concerns are fair, I suppose, but keep in mind: we're privy to precious little information about the factors affecting Blue's decision. As our former SBNation cohort Bomani Jones pointed out earlier today (and I'll just give you the tweets here, because I can't say it any better than Bo did):
i HATE this time of year, cuz we have reduced the decision to declare to the dumbest level.— Bomani Jones (@bomani_jones) April 16, 2013
stupid assumption 1: coming back to school WILL improve your stock. if you think so, terence morris would like to laugh in your stupid face.— Bomani Jones (@bomani_jones) April 16, 2013
stupid assumption 2: where you might get drafted is the ONLY thing that matters. like these kids aren't unpaid and life ain't real.— Bomani Jones (@bomani_jones) April 16, 2013
ppl 2 yrs ago railed against josh selby leaving. he wasn't even a first round pick! yo, ppl leave college cuz they need money ALL THE TIME.— Bomani Jones (@bomani_jones) April 16, 2013
And that's the rub: maybe Van's family needs the money. Maybe he got sick of busting his ass day after day on the court and in the classroom, and decided it was time to use his talents for more than room and board and a communications degree. Maybe he's figured out that, worst case, he gets to play ball for money while living in Europe as a 22 year old. Maybe he's decided his star is never going to be brighter than it is right now, and another season at MU isn't going to make his strengths (defense, athleticism, tenacity) any stronger, or his weaknesses (his jumper, his handle) any weaker. Maybe he just wants to see what he's made of against the best in the world, once and for all.
Regardless: I take Van at his word when he says this is what he wants, and this is what he feels is the best path for him at this point in his journey. And after two Sweet 16 seasons, an Elite 8 run, and a regular-season conference championship secured on one of the most memorable shots in Marquette history, I'd say the young man doesn't owe us a damn thing (as if he ever did).
Best of luck, Vander Blue, and thanks for the memories. Now go get yours.