It's been a whirlwind week for Blue, a talented junior guard who led Madison Memorial to the WIAA Division 1 State Championship last March. Last Monday, it was reported by multiple news outlets, including Badger Nation, that Blue was rethinking his verbal commitment to play for UW starting in the 2010-11 season.
What transpired over the next week were stories from other outlets citing that Blue was de-committing because of academic issues and that a May 11th meeting with academic advisors from both Wisconsin and Madison Memorial, Blue's inner circle and coaches from both schools was when Blue de-committed, all of which Blue said was faulty information.
"I felt like I was in a small corner and trapped because I couldn't get out because people were going off information that was incorrect," Blue said during his press conference Tuesday. "(The stories) hurt my family, I think, more than it actually hurt me, because I knew it wasn't true. Now they have my mom walking around and people looking at her like her son is just a basketball player, but that's never been the strategy of my family. It's always been school, than basketball."
As the sourced news continued to flow, Blue kept quiet; a result that spurred inappropriate, rude discussion on some Internet message boards until keeping silent was no longer an option. While Badger Nation makes users register and display their username, other message boards allow users to post anonymously, a fact that allows the flaming posters and trolls to say whatever they want and, like cowards, hide behind a wall.
Sitting with his mother (Rita), his AAU coach with the Madison Spartans (Shelton Kingcade) and his grandfather (Art Wilson), Blue did not get angry, he did not yell and he showed no outlandish emotion during the 30-minute presser. Instead he sat there, talked from his heart and never lost his cool, showing maturity not commonly found in 16-year-old boys.
"To see how these so-called Wisconsin fans have to say on those blogs, that really made me second guess if these people really want me here," Blue said. "I know if I was a fan and I heard about something like that, I would be more like, "What can we do to help him?" and not make him feel like the worse person in Madison, which is how I felt. It was just so unnecessary. I don't think I am a horrible person."
Before you light torches and seek out those bandwagon jumpers, Blue made it clear that the message boards and newspaper articles, while they, according to Blue, "can really take over a teenager's life," were not the main reason for de-committing.
It also had nothing to do with the Coach Bo Ryan's so-called 'slow' pace of play or nothing to with his academics, which was repeatedly mentioned to not be an issue.
The reason he de-committed from Wisconsin? Vander Blue wanted to go through the recruiting process to make sure he was making the right decision. Nothing more, nothing less.
Being the first school to come along and offer a scholarship, Wisconsin got Blue real excited about the ‘recruiting process' and having grown up in Madison and having his heart with the university, he committed in April 2008.
But while other highly-talented 15 and 16-year-old basketball recruits, like former teammate and Marquette recruit Jeronne Maymon, took official visits and weighed their options, Blue stayed at home and stayed committed, although the thought of what else was out there weighed on his mind.
So being unsure about his recruitment, Blue made his tough decision, de-committing from his hometown school so he take a step back, open up his recruitment, could take some visits and see what else is out there.
"I think Wisconsin is a great school (but) right now, at this point in my life, I am not ready to take that step," Blue said. "I just want to open up and let everything be free right now."
According to Wilson, Blue's heart is still with Wisconsin and is still open to playing basketball in Madison, but just wants to explore other opportunities to play basketball, to go out and observe and look for a place that's right for him without any doubts.
Most 16-year-old's exploring consists of taking their parents' minivan out for a spin around town. Do other parents complain when that happens? So why should we get all worked up when this kid wants to explore what else is out there?
If Blue doesn't come to Wisconsin, it's not the end of the world. Ryan's system is a team system that has survived in past years without having the best players. There's no question that having Blue will be a positive impact for UW, but the Badgers will continue to win games and find another adequate player to fill his playing time.
But don't write off Vander Blue yet, as he said multiple times that there's still a good chance that Wisconsin is the right fit for him.
"I feel that I made a decision prematurely and now I am more mature," Blue said. "I want to be 16, play some tournaments, have some fun and when the time comes around, visit some schools and go from there. I just want to be fair to myself and the university. I want to make a commitment and be 100 percent."
Bottom line, it has around six months to play out and if it was meant to be, he'll end up at UW. Right now, Blue wants to be a kid and there's nothing wrong with that.