Devyn Marble's road to the NBA draft: Part 3

BY RYAN PROBASCO | MAY 15, 2014 5:00 AM

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This is Part III of an ongoing series chronicling former Iowa basketball player Devyn Marble and his preparation for the 2014 NBA draft.

With Hawkeye Nation at the peak of its interest in men’s basketball, just 48 hours after the program’s first appearance in the Associated Press’ top 10 since 2002, Fran McCaffery’s Hawkeyes traveled to Ann Arbor, Mich., to play Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III, and Company on Jan. 22.

Michigan edged Iowa by 8 points that night, but it never seemed that close. Stauskas was fantastic, leading all players with 26 points while showcasing the type of precision and skill that will likely make him a lottery pick in the upcoming NBA draft.

“I didn’t put [Devyn Marble] on Nik Stauskas because I don’t want to get him in foul trouble,” McCaffery said. “Stauskas has a big game; we lose.”

But just over two weeks later, the Wolverines traveled to Iowa City for a Saturday afternoon bout on ESPN. That day, Marble delivered the signature performance of his Iowa career. The 21-year old carried the Hawkeyes with a barrage of 3-pointers (6-of-9) in the first half and finished with 26 points overall. But what impressed McCaffery the most that day was his response to the defensive switch.

“When they came here, I told Devyn, ‘You have to guard Stauskas; you’ve got to take him out of the game.’ Stauskas, as I recall [scored 10 points]. Dev goes for 22 in the first half. We’re up by 14 at half, and with three minutes to go, we’re up by 26.”

Now, as Marble sits, signing autographs for kids at an event he organized at the Coral Ridge Mall, he can only look back at the moments he energized Carver-Hawkeye with nostalgia.

The Southfield, Mich., native was part of Todd Lickliter’s recruiting class before the latter was dismissed as head basketball coach, which meant McCaffery had to re-persuade the then-high-school senior to commit to Iowa.

Along with McCaffery’s patient approach during that process, Marble credits the support he received from the Iowa family on his visits, which is why he’s been traveling across the state and making appearances since his college career finished.

“One of the main reasons I came here is the community and the support I received when I visited,” Marble said. “As soon as I got home, I told my mom this is where I wanted to be. I felt like it was home when I got here. They showed me wonderful support for four years, and this is my way of showing I appreciate the support they give me.

“Almost 95 percent of it had to do with them. I went on other visits, and I didn’t feel that same way.”

The NBA combine began Wednesday, which will give Marble an opportunity to solidify his draft status. For many of the big-name prospects — Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, and Joel Embiid’s will be absent — the combine isn’t an event that will alter draft stock drastically, because teams already have a plethora of film and firsthand scouting reports.

But what could aid Marble in Chicago is how he handles the interview and how his body grades in the medical evaluation.

“They watched him play for me; they watched him on film,” McCaffery said. “But they’re going to bring him in. They’re going to talk to him, get to know him, work him out, and watch him compete. And they’re going to see what a fierce competitor he is.”

Marble, according to those involved, has a terrific chance at sticking in the NBA. His length and versatility at other positions could persuade teams to jump on him as early as the late first round or early second round.

“If he doesn’t do one thing extraordinarily well, he does so many things really well that I think balances it out,” Iowa assistant coach Sherman Dillard said. “He can play the 1, 2, and 3 spots being 6-7. He shoots it well enough and shoots it well enough deep. He’s got above-average bounce in terms of finishing and driving. And I think he’s exceptionally strong.”

Marble enters the draft process as the Hawkeye with the best odds of being drafted since Adam Haluska was nabbed in the second round in 2007. But no matter if he ends up being the kid that breaks that seven-year streak, Marble wants to remain a popular face around campus.

Iowa City showed Marble love when it looked as if he may attend another school, which is why he intends to give it back, even after his days here are done.

“I’ll definitely stay involved here,” he said. “I’ll be back when I can. I’ll still watch the team play on TV when I get the opportunity to. I’ll still be playing a big part at the university. I don’t want to be rarely seen; I’ll be here as much as possible.

“Every time I work out and do something, I have that University of Iowa pride on my shoulder. And I just want to represent the university and where I’m from the right way. I take pride in everything I do.”

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