A unique perspective on Vander Blue - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

A unique perspective on Vander Blue


From winning a share of the Big East regular season title to making a run to the Elite Eight, Vander Blue was a big part of the Golden Eagles' season. And one man in Wisconsin has a unique connection to the basketball star.

"I just remember (Blue) being so explosive to the hoop. His athleticism was unreal."

Josh Hopfensperger remembers when he played against Vander Blue in the 2010 WIAA state tournament.

"I was a little nervous," Hopfensperger said. "But I was up for the challenge because in the end I'm going to be playing against a guy who's going to be playing Division I basketball and hopefully I can play my best."

Blue played for Madison Memorial while Hopfensperger competed for Neenah. The two players met in the state quarterfinals in Madison.

"I always expected him to be like an unreal athlete," Hopfensperger said. "But he had pretty much the whole package. I mean he defended and I was not expecting him to be a great defensive player either. He got in passing lanes and he hawked you when you got the ball. He was a lot better than I thought he was going to be."

While Neenah lost by 17 points to the eventual state runners-up, this Rockets' forward actually scored two points more than the future Marquette star.

"After this game, I knew what I had to do to be able to, if I wanted to play at a higher level, I needed to start doing what they were doing. I need to get my shot release quicker and faster because every time I shot it, they were right in your face."

Hopfensperger says he's always been a fan of Marquette basketball but never expected Blue to become such a clutch player.

"It's nice so I can tell everyone that I know him like 'yeah, I played against him.' But it's crazy just to look at him and just think that he's the same age as me.

"To see his development and be able hopefully see him in the next level, would be an unreal thing to see."

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