Vander Not Blue About Decision

With his family stressing academics and growing up watching great Wisconsin players like Devin Harris and Alando Tucker and admiring the heart of Trevon Hughes, Madison Memorial sophomore guard Vander Blue knew that Wisconsin was the only option for him.

MADISON - Sitting at home Monday night with his four scholarship offers in his hands, sophomore guard Vander Blue had plenty of reasons to be excited.

He could accept the offer from Indiana and be a part of head coach Tom Crean's rebuilding process and play at historic Assembly Hall. He could go to Minnesota and play for a national championship coach Tubby Smith. He could go to Kentucky and play in front of one of the most die-hard basketball fan bases in the entire country, or he could accept Marquette's scholarship offer and be just an hour away from home.

But when it came down to it, all of those scholarships failed to live up to what the University of Wisconsin could provide.

Born and raised in Wisconsin, Blue watched first hand as his hometown Badgers flourished and have become one the top programs in the nation. He remembered watching his heroes command the guard position from the elite Devin Harris to the talented Trevon Hughes and watched talented coach Bo Ryan coach and lead Wisconsin to unprecedented heights.

He remembered sitting in the stands and watching the high-flying artistry of Alando Tucker and how he was in awe of his leadership on the court.

Vander Blue wanted so badly to be apart of his hometown team and with that in mind, Blue couldn't think of any reason why he should not call himself a Wisconsin Badger after the Badgers offered him a scholarship in March.

"They were the first school to show me to love and ever since then, my relationship with Howard (Moore) and Bo (Ryan) went off the charts," Blue told Badger Nation Tuesday. "They know about my life, background and my family. Ever since they offered, I have a real good feeling in mind that I was going to go to Wisconsin. A degree from Wisconsin is going to look good."

Averaging 12.9 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game as a sophomore for Madison Memorial, Blue (6-foot-3, 185 pounds) does a little bit of everything on the court. He is active in the post, quick to attack the basket and an active defender. With his skill set, Blue is capable of playing either the point or shooting guard position and feasibly can play small forward with some added size.

Last week, Blue showed the skills he possesses when his Spartan AAU team played in the heralded King James Shooting Stars tournament in Akron, Ohio. With some of the top high school athletes in attendance and recruiting contact Howard Moore and head coach Bo Ryan looking on, Blue was the catalyst for the Spartans, scoring nearly 19 points per game and being sound defensively to led his team to a 3-1 record.

"I liked playing against people that are better than me because you can only get better," Blue said. "LeBron James is my favorite player in the world so I am going to perform in his tournament, no matter what. The (UW) coaches being there meant a lot to me because they were there supporting me at those eight o'clock games. It was a great thing."

With being mere minutes from the Kohl Center, Blue took in plenty of home Badger games this season, including the Marquette, Indiana and Valparaiso games to name a few. Whenever he came, however, Blue was focused in on UW's sophomore point guard.

"I love watching Trevon Hughes play his game and how hard he plays," Blue said. "Whenever I came to the Kohl Center, I would always focus in on watching him play. He works so hard and makes that offense go."

Blue also loved coming to the Kohl Center for the environment Badger fans create; an environment that he's already had a taste of playing in the state tournament last season.

"The Marquette and Indiana games were just crazy," Blue said. "I wanted to put on a uniform and play right there. Every bucket was intense just like the state tournament. It's definitely an advantage to me to have gotten up and down on that court a couple of times."

Although only a sophomore, Blue showed his well-developed maturity by realizing that off the court, he still has work to do. Invited to a bunch of different camps and tournaments, Blue is going to attend summer school so he can become a better student athlete.

"My parents, my mom, my family really stress academics and Wisconsin has academics off the charts," Blue said. "They are one of the top academic schools in the nation. My mom is my best friend and she had a real good feeling about the academics and the basketball.

"People can take basketball from you but they can't take your brain," Blue added. "I can break a leg doing anything but I can't break a brain. I really think I can have a high IQ by going to Wisconsin because it's a proven fact that Wisconsin is one of the top 10 schools in the nation academically. They provide the best of everything."

Blue also knows what his commitment means, as he is not planning on changing his commitment anytime soon.

"I trust Wisconsin and my family trusts Wisconsin so I am not planning on changing my mind," Blue said. "Somebody has got to offer me something crazy to change my mind. Everything is over with and I don't have to worry about what college I am going to in two years. I can just play ball with my friends and keep my grades up."

With the recruiting process behind him and ready to be apart of the Wisconsin family, the next two years can't go by quick enough for Vander Blue, as he is ready to run out onto the Kohl Center Court, playing for the same school his boyhood heroes played.

"I am so excited to get on campus and start living the college life," Blue said. "I have been thinking about this my whole life - wanting to play college ball. I am still not good enough for me to do what I want to do. When I get there, I am going to give people headaches because that's just the heart that I have."

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