Iowa basketball: A tribute to the college “process”

In the age of the one-and-done in college basketball there seems to be less and less room for those who stick around for a while to get their shot at the next level. After all, if you stay in college for 3-4 years you must not really be all that good. Right?

Well if you take the time to look hard enough, you’ll actually find that there are some players around the country who have taken advantage of their time on campus to the fullest extent, and turned themselves into players that NBA teams will have their eyes on come draft night.

The Iowa basketball team is fortunate enough to have itself one of these players in senior guard Devyn Marble.

The 6-6 Marble, son of Iowa legend and all-time scoring leader Roy Marble, has in many respects exceeded expectations in carving out his own niche in Hawkeye history.

A native of Southfield, Michigan, Marble was only a 3-star recruit coming out of high school. In fact, the Hawkeyes were really the only major conference program to offer him a scholarship. Even home state schools Michigan and Michigan State gave only a passing interest to the two-time 1st team all-state recipient.

As a freshman, the majority of the season was spent adapting to the college game. Marble was a supplementary contributor off the bench, though he did make six starts. At that time fans knew his name and his father, but at 5.7ppg and overall poor shooting percentages it was hard to get a great read on just what he might eventually become.

In his sophomore campaign Marble firmly entrenched himself as a starter on a team that was continuing to grow under second year head coach Fran McCaffery. His scoring doubled to 11.5ppg as a second or third option on offense, and the versatility as a bigger guard that he possesses really started to show itself in his ability to impact games in multiple areas (3.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game). While still relatively inconsistent throughout the year, Marble ended on a high note, posting a career high 31 points on 7-8 shooting from 3 in an NIT loss at Oregon, and gave Iowa fans a glimpse of his future potential.

When Marble entered his junior year the responsibility of primary scorer fell upon his shoulders. As the team continued to improve, so did his production. The swing-man continued to make a diverse impact out on the floor, and saw yet another spike in scoring up to 15ppg that helped him garner 3rd team All-Big Ten honors. He would once again close out the season with play that left fans eager to see more, averaging 20.6 points, 4 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game during Iowa’s run to the NIT championship game.

The hard work and dedication to his craft that Devyn Marble has shown over four years in Iowa City will very likely be what gets his name called on draft night this summer.

The hard work and dedication to his craft that Devyn Marble has shown over four years in Iowa City will very likely be what gets his name called on draft night this summer.

Obviously as a senior there would be no more time to think about future improvement. Marble entered this season with Iowa fans knowing he was very good, but unsure if he had what it took to become “great.”

It’s safe to say that a 1st team All-Big Ten season has answered the bell in that respect.

Despite additional team depth, a late season slide, and other hurdles along the way, Marble has taken his game to a whole new level in his final year on campus. Not only has his scoring seen another increase (up to 17.3ppg), but the rebounding and assist numbers that make him such a well-rounded offensive player have remained. With the most refined jump shooting of his career on display, he has also largely fixed the consistency issues he once suffered from, scoring 20+ points on 13 occasions this season.

I’d also be remiss not to mention Marble’s development into a high-level defender (1.8 steals per game), making him one of the most complete players in the Big Ten and around the country.

Simply put, college basketball fans everywhere should recognize a player who has paid his dues and put in the work to achieve his potential.

By the numbers Marble should (and hopefully will) go down as one of the better players in Iowa basketball history. He currently sits 5th in career scoring, 7th in field goals made, 9th in 3’s, 5th in free throws, 6th in assists, and 7th in steals. You’d be hard pressed to find many other Hawkeyes with as impressive and diverse career numbers.

As his stay in Iowa City comes to a close with the upcoming NCAA Tournament, Marble will eventually turn his attention towards every young player’s dream, the NBA.

Depending on which mock draft you look at (for what they’re worth), Marble is anywhere from a very late first round pick (pretty unlikely) to an early to mid second round selection. However, no matter where he ends up being chosen, a growing consensus seems to be that he has the type of skill set and maturity to find a place at the next level.

I truly have all the faith in the world that Marble will at some point find a spot on an NBA roster, but as a freshman entering Division 1, I would have been crazy to feel that way.

So maybe the moral of this story is that this whole “college thing” can work out after all? If you don’t believe me, just take a look at the four year progression of a player like Devyn Marble.