The energy surrounding Wisconsin's short run in the NCAA tournament was nearly matched by the buzz surrounding Vander Blue's dominance in the WIAA state tournament this weekend.
The Madison Memorial junior guard who has already verballed to play for Wisconsin averaged 22.6 pts, 6 rebs, 1.3 blks & 2.6 stls per game in three wins en route to the Division 1 state title. Blue exploded right away for 35 points (24 in the second half) in a semifinal win over Germantown. He continued to erase memories of his subpar championship game last season as Memorial rolled over Racine Horlick on Saturday night for its second gold ball.
In addition to being a unanimous all-tournament team selection, Blue was named to the Division 1 All-State team by the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association. Teammate and soon-to-be Marquette freshman Jeronne Maymon was named Mr. Basketball and was a unanimous selection to join Blue on the All-State team.
Badger fans have already gone through one round of rumors regarding the stability of Blue's verbal commitment. It appears those rumors are only going to resurface and intensify. After a similar tourney run last season, Maymon saw his recruiting stock explode, which he then validated with a solid AAU session. I expect the same to happen with Blue.
I suspect Wisconsin's staff knows this and believe they will remain vigilant in keeping close ties with the 6'4" prospect. The recruiting scene is ruthless, so no one can rest on their laurels. Personally, I subscribe to the "where there's smoke, there's fire" mantra, but there still has not been any substance to the whispers yet. About the only thing you can know for sure with all the rumors going around is that Blue says he is very close to Maymon:
"That’s my boy. I love him to death. Blood could make us no closer.”Beyond that, it is not worth worrying about unless an official announcement is made.
Another unanimous WBCA all-state selection was Horlick's Oregon-bound senior Jamil Wilson, who struggled in the championship game. Wilson was bottled up by Memorial freshman Junior Lomomba in the early going and then got into terrible foul trouble, picking up number four in the second quarter. It will be fun to see Lomomba develop over the next few years, provided he stays enrolled at Memorial rather than going the prep school route. I am sure the Badgers will be knocking on his door if he keeps his academics in order.
As for Wilson, he still looks like an extremely talented wing player who I've mentioned could develop into a Scottie Pippen-type player. He had strong performances before running into Memorial, showing off nice range on his pull-up jumper and a special knack for blocking shots. Though any athletic leaper in high school with a wingspan approaching seven feet should be pretty decent in that department.
- I missed this before, but the Wisconsin State Journal's George Hesselberg did a humorous video breakdown on how to pick a team to root for in the state tournament if you lack any ingrained allegiances. A classic in my book.
- Mike Bruesewitz and Henry Sibley play Wednesday in the Minnesota Class 4A quarterfinals. The Warriors are fighting to earn a rematch with No. 1 Hopkins. The Twin Cities Hoops Czar thinks he might have a plan of attack.