Vander Blue just needs a shot. He’s excelled throughout his young career at taking them and making them. But it’s not baseline floaters, pull-up jumpers, or catch-and-shoot threes that he’s looking for. Blue yearns for a bigger shot — another shot at the NBA.
The 6-4 guard played collegiality at Marquette. Blue led the the Golden Eagles to an Elite 8 appearance in the 2013 NCAA Tournament. In that game, Blue out-dueled the eventual 2014 NBA Rookie of the Year, Michael Carter Williams. Syracuse won the game, however, and Blue’s college career came to an end when he decided to forgo his senior season and declare for the 2013 NBA Draft.
He went undrafted and a career on the move ensued. Blue was dubbed the man with 200 teammates in an ESPN the Magazine profile chronicling his whirlwind rookie season, in which he played 49 games in 27 cities on eight different teams across three continents. Still just 24, he’s found stability with the D-Fenders in L.A., where he’s starred for the past three seasons.
Blue has risen to the No. 2 ranking on NBADLeague.com’s Prospect Watch rankings, averaging about 25 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists per game. His team owns the best record in the league. Blue believes, for his efforts, that he’s earned another shot at the Association.
“I’m still chasing my dream, trying to prove that I belong,” he said.
Blue has tasted what it’s like to be at the highest level. He played on a 10-day contract with the Celtics in January of 2014. He dressed for five regular season games, only seeing action in three of them.
Blue wouldn’t see NBA minutes again until over a year later. In April of 2015, the Lakers signed Blue using an NBA hardship exemption due to a rash of injuries that had afflicted the team. Blue played in the final two games of the Lakers season. He played all 48 minutes in a loss against the Kings, and flirted with a triple-double, recording 15 points, 8 assists, and 7 rebounds.
For his efforts, Blue was rewarded with a position on the Chicago Bulls 2015 NBA Summer League team — already his fourth different Summer League team. He was waived before the season, however, and ended up back in the D-League with the D-Fenders, where has been ever since.
“He is definitely deserving of a Call-Up,” D-Fenders head coach Coby Karl said. “I just think he can be one of those guys like a Lou Williams off the bench … that type of player where he can come in and score in bunches and bring that swagger.”
While many might get discouraged, Blue uses the chip on his shoulder as fuel. He only focuses on the things that he can control. He continues to practice and play hard, continues to improve.
“Every day, I’m just watching film, doing extra work. Just sticking with my guns and trying to be the best I can be,” Blue said.
“[I give him credit for making] the sacrifice financially that’s required to chase that dream and go out there one more time,” Coach Karl said. “He’s 24. Any other 24-year-old that’s just out of college… [who’s] doing what he’s doing, there’s no doubt he’s called up and probably playing for an NBA team right now.”