The spring semester may have just come to an end, but for college coaches recruiting efforts are nowhere close to being finished. Actually, come to think of it, recruiting never really stops. UW’s head coaches and their respective assistants are constantly evaluating film, sending letters to prospects, and making visits across the country in attempt to convince talented high school prospects that Badger red is their color. Recruiting is absolutely essential to the success of any program and I’ll be posting blog entries over the course of the summer to update Badger fans on all the biggest news.
I was hoping my first entry would be a positive one, but sadly that is just not the case. As Jonah stated in the previous post, Vander Blue, a promising point guard from Madison Memorial high school, looked primed and ready to be the next great Badger baller, but that all took a dramatic turn in the last week. On May 11th, Blue met with coach Ryan, his AAU coaches, and a bunch of advisors on the UW campus to discuss his basketball future.
Long story short, reports surfaced hinting that the relationship between Blue and the Badgers appeared to be pretty rocky for a number of unconfirmed reasons. To add more intrigue to the situation, Ryan extended a scholarship offer to 2010 prospect Cameron Wright almost immediately after the meeting. This offer was all the more suspicious due to the fact that both the 2010 incoming roster spots were already filled with the verbal commitments of Blue and Evan Anderson. Bo would only extend another offer if a spot came available and sure enough on Tuesday Blue announced that he was re-opening his recruitment.
The Badgers went through a number of heartbreaking defeats this past season, but the loss of Vander Blue could end up hurting the Badger basketball program for years to come. Adding insult to injury, it looks like the early leaders to gain Blue’s services are Marquette and Minnesota. What a miserable turn of events. I was all ready for Blue to become the next Devin Harris, but that dream appears to have vanished.
Blue’s de-commitment is utterly devastating to Badger hoops. The UW recruiting strategy has always been centered around signing the top in-state players while looking to add some quality talent here and there from states where UW has built some connections. Frankly, every competitive school wants to build a fence around their state, but since the state of Wisconsin produces very few Division I basketball players, it becomes increasingly important to keep the Wisconsin prospects in their home state.
The thing is, every once in a while a truly special player comes along that can totally change a team, and for UW, Vander Blue was potentially that player. He has remarkable athletic ability (something the Badgers and the rest of the Big Ten have seemed to lack) and the tools to completely take over a game. Blue has said that he has not removed UW from his list of possible college destinations, but it looks as though that bridge has been effectively burned. If the Badger basketball program wants to return to the final four anytime soon, dynamic players like Blue are going to need to be the ones leading the way.
The fundamentally sound, under-the-radar prospects have served UW well over the years, but it is time for the Badgers to take the next step, and advance further in the NCAA tournament. It’s hard to find top of the line prospects who are seriously interested in UW and unfortunately the Badger coaching staff let one slip right through their fingers.With Blue out of the picture its time to think about plan B. I’ll be sure to let everyone know when the gritty 2-star with upside commits to UW, because in all honesty, it’s just a matter of time.