The San Antonio Spurs roster now stands at 14, with that lone spot waiting to be filled. PATFO has had the habit of keeping one roster spot open, primarily for flexibility purposes just in case an opportunity presents itself as the season unfolds. If training camp and preseason invites are any indication, PATFO is apparently looking for a backup small forward. Two notable free agents in Corey Maggette and Sam Young were signed to join the Spurs training camp and preseason roster, only to be waived later on. Both players play the small forward position, but are exact opposites in terms of what they bring to the table. Young is younger and better known for his defense, which isn't really that good, than his offense, whereas Maggette can produce on the offensive end, but finds his defense wanting. In the end, neither of the two showed what it takes, at least in PATFO's eyes, to deserve that last roster spot.
This brings us to Marqus Blakely, a 6'5" 225-pounder with a Kawhi-like wingspan, unbelievable hops, knack for stingy defense, and seemingly inexhaustible supply of energy. As of this writing, Blakely is playing for San Mig Coffee Mixers in the Philippine Basketball Association, which is Asia's first and oldest professional basketball league. It might also interest you to note that our very own Chip Engelland once played for the Philippine National Team, as a naturalized Filipino. Blakely's team is now one win shy of the championship of the ongoing Governor's Cup. Just last week, he won the league's Best Import award, which essentially means that he's the best player in the entire tournament, leading his team in all major statistical categories; 24.4ppg, 15.6rpg (6.1 on the offensive end), 4.8apg, 2.1spg, 2.3bpg. I would have wanted to post the screen shot images of his game logs and averages in every stage of the tournament directly here for easy viewing, but there seems to be a problem in the uploading of the image link... or perhaps, I just don't know how to do it... so I'll just provide these links hereunder:
What separates him from any other prospect is his highly contagious energy, despite playing major minutes, an average of 42.3, night in and night out. His defensive versatility and acumen are also out of this world, whether on a single coverage or disrupting the passing lanes as a team, whether guarding a wingman or a bigman, he does it extremely well.
Admittedly though, one facet of his game that he ought to work on if he is to become an effective backup small forward for the Spurs is his shooting. Nonetheless, he has the right shooting mechanics, perhaps a little tweaks here and there. It's really just a matter of gaining a little confidence in taking his shot and a little bit of getting used to. He's still relatively young, anyway, and Chip Engelland can certainly work his magic. Blakely turns exactly 25 years old today, October 22, 2013.
Blakely plans to join the training camp of either the Minnesota Timberwolves or the Toronto Raptors, teams that have expressed interest in his services. I really feel that we're missing out on this great athlete, so perhaps we can also extend an invite for at least a workout.
Hereunder are a few snippets I found on the web about Marqus Blakely...
Marqus Blakely gained a reputation at Vermont by winning the Kevin Roberson America East Conference Men's Basketball Player of the Year twice and the America East Defensive Player of the Year Award three times. He earned national recognition by winning the 2010 State Farm Division I College Basketball Slam Dunk Contest. He performed a dunk invented by then teammate Evan Fjeld that had never been done before. The dunk is now widely known as the "Double Dunk" where Fjeld dunked the ball from the right side and Blakely caught the ball out of the bottom of the net and dunked it back in mid-air. He also performed three dunks that appeared on ESPN SportsCenter's Top Plays.
He finished his senior season at Vermont by leading the America East in steals (2.6 pg) and blocks (1.9 pg), finishing second in points (17.4 pg), rebounds (9.1 pg) and field goal percentage (54.1%), and came in fourth in assists (3.7 pg). He finished his career with the Catamounts ranked fifth all-time in scoring (1,875), second in rebounding (1,044) and steals (226), third in blocks (254), and 10th in assists (304). He helped lead Vermont to a 25-10 record as a senior and a trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Following the season Blakely was also one of only 64 seniors in the nation to take part in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, helping lead his team to a championship.
Strenghts: An outstanding athlete ... He put himself on the college basketball map when he had one of the year’s most exciting dunks in 2007 as a freshman during the American East Championship game vs. Albany which was nationally televised ... As a sophomore, he garnered both the America East Player of the Year and America East Defensive Player of the Year, which had never been accomplished before in league history .. A quick leaper as his 2.9 blocks per game will attest to ... Able to guard both wing and post players effectively ... Offensively, he attacks the rim with an attitude and as a result he gets to the free throw line quite often ... He is very crafty around the rim and finishes most of his shots (58.3% from the field) ... He could be intriguing to some NBA teams looking for defensive help, where Blakely could be very effective guarding a couple different positions.
Weaknesses: His offensive perimeter skills are very raw ... He is uncomfortable handling the ball on the wing ... He rarely puts the ball to the floor more than once or twice ... Also, he has yet to show any consistency shooting the ball outside of 12 feet ... Ball handling and outside shooting are two aspects of his game that must improve if he is going to have any shot at making an NBA roster ... At the college level, his game resides strictly in the paint. At only 6-5, he will not be able to have continued success down in the post as he will be extremely undersized. Poor free throw shooter as well (59%).