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February 17th, 2011 |

 

By Matt Miller matt@dmcityview.com

 

Back on the map

 

Iowa Energy acquire high-flying dunker Marqus Blakely

 

It’s not very often Iowa Energy basketball fans have the opportunity to see an athlete who used to be a regular on “SportsCenter”’s Top 10 Plays, but that changed when Marqus Blakely arrived in Des Moines a few weeks ago. While ESPN won’t be visiting Wells Fargo Arena any time soon, the power forward is still catching a lot of attention.

“The first time I found out I was on ‘SportsCenter’ for a dunk, my mom text me,” Blakely said. “I didn’t receive the message until the next morning when I woke up, but I turned it on right away that morning. When I saw myself it was pretty cool, but you get used to it. Still, there is nothing like the feeling of dunking on someone. It can change the momentum of the game.”

Blakely has provided plenty of momentum for the Iowa Energy as he is averaging 14.1 points per game. Currently the Energy sit atop the East Conference of the NBA D-League. Blakely, 22, went undrafted in the 2010 NBA Draft but attended the NBA Summer League with the Los Angeles Clippers. He later signed a two-year, partially guaranteed contract but was released at the end of training camp. Blakely was the 12th overall pick by the Bakersfield Jam in the 2010 NBA D-League Draft.

“I was cut hours before the deadline, which proves I can play at the professional level,” Blakely said. “They said it was more of a numbers thing why I was cut. But that’s why I’m here now — I’m here to make the improvements and have the NBA scouts here at the right time to get called up.”

Before trying to make it professionally, Blakely made a reputation for himself at the University of Vermont. The New Jersey native won the Kevin Roberson American East Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Year twice and the American East Defensive Player of the Year Award three times. During his senior year he helped lead the Vermont Catamounts to a 25-10 record and a trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Catamounts were the No. 16 seed against the No. 1 seed, the Syracuse Orangemen. Although Vermont lost 79-56, Blakely said the tournament was a great experience.

“It was wild. The whole stadium was filled with orange other than the little section behind our bench was green and yellow,” Blakely said. “I think we deserved a higher seed, but we managed to get Vermont back on the map.”

Blakely’s roller-coaster ride continued when he competed and won the 22nd annual State Farm Dunk Contest in April 2010 in Indianapolis, Ind. Blakely says it was a lot of fun but admits it was the story behind the scenes that he remembers most. Prior to the American East championship game and contest, Evan Fjeld, a teammate of Blakely’s, lost his mother to a long battle with cancer.

“I told Evan that if I got invited to the dunk contest, I would take him with me to help out on the court and help take his mind off his loss,” Blakely said. “I’m glad it worked out — Evan is a great guy, and I’m glad he was able to experience it with me.”

Although Blakely is still working to gel with his new teammates, he says he’s focused on the journey ahead of him.

“I came from a smaller school, but I wouldn’t change a thing about my college experience,” he said. “It’s helped me get to where I am. It’s about proving to people it doesn’t matter where you’ve been, but where you’re headed.” CV

 

caption: Marqus Blakely has brought his basketball skills from the University of Vermont to the Iowa Energy. Photo courtesy of Iowa Energy