MILWAUKEE -- Whether he becomes an All-American, a role player or something in between at Marquette, Vander Blue has -- like Cy Young/MVP winner Vida Blue three decades before him -- one of those sports names not easily forgotten.
Wisconsin fans aren't likely to forget Vander Blue, either, for the way the Madison Memorial guard committed to the Badgers, called a news conference to renege and then cast his lot with the enemy.
But if the rivalry could be put aside for a moment, it's important to remember that an instate basketball player with a national reputation actually chose to remain inside the border.
This state doesn't produce enough Division I players, much less top-100 talent, to sustain the rosters of the two majors. Keeping them home always has been a challenge for a variety of reasons.
Joe Wolf is generally regarded as the best high school player ever from Wisconsin. But if North Carolina calls, you answer.
In the '70s, Kurt Nimphius (Arizona State) probably had in mind the one thing this state cannot offer: No winter.
Latrell Sprewell (Alabama) and Nick Van Exel (Cincinnati) first needed junior college, as Wisconsin and Marquette compromise little academically. Nevertheless, neither was an attractive basketball school at the time for the future NBA players. Same for NBA all-star Caron Butler, who chose Connecticut after a year of prep school.
Yet for all that was made of Dwyane Wade carrying Marquette to the '03 Final Four, the Golden Eagles had four instate players who were national top-100 recruits: Steve Novak, Travis Diener, Scott Merritt and Robert Jackson, who returned via Mississippi State. Novak and Diener are still in the NBA.
The Badgers had one instate top-100 recruit on their unlikely 2000 Final Four team, Julian Swartz, who subsequently found personal happiness at Carroll University. A few years later, all-star Devin Harris launched his NBA career from Madison.
Jim McIlvaine said he chose home over UCLA because of Marquette coach Kevin O'Neill's sales pitch.
"He warned me that UCLA would recruit over me every year I was there, because they couldn't afford not to recruit the best big men in California every year," said the former NBA center and current MU announcer. "Kevin's logic hit home. The luxury of going to a school in Wisconsin is that this state doesn't produce top talent on a consistent basis like California, Texas and New York."
According to one study, Wisconsin has produced 19 top-100 recruits since 1998, 22nd most nationally. No. 1 California had 119 in the same period.
Of those 19, six chose Marquette, including Blue's Memorial teammate, Jeronne Maymon. Five went to Wisconsin, including Brian Butch, a top-10 national recruit in 2003. Jose Winston returned (UW-Milwaukee) after initially choosing Colorado.
Louisville landed the best ones who got away since '98, Reece Gaines and Jerry Smith (The study linked Butler to Maine, where he prepped.)
The greatest NBA player from the state, Terry Porter, stayed home (UW-Stevens Point). So did good ones like Don Kojis, Jim Chones and Tony Smith, who all went to Marquette.
A top-five all-time instate talent, Tony Bennett, went to UW-Green Bay to play for his father. Clarence Sherrod (Wisconsin) and Anthony Pieper (Marquette) stayed. So did Sam Okey for a time.
"Downtown" Freddie Brown and John Johnson left for Iowa and later reunited in Seattle for an NBA championship season. Bill Hanzlik made the '78 Final Four at Notre Dame.
But that was then.
"Instate kids have great choices now in all four schools and while some may still choose to play elsewhere, it won't be due to a lack of top-tier programs at home," McIlvaine said.