Magic Have a Versatile Talent in Marble

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By John Denton
July 7, 2014

ORLANDO -- Just minutes into his professional basketball debut three days ago, Orlando Magic forward Devyn Marble confidently stroked a 3-point shot in the face of a defender and then drilled another one possession later.

While that swagger and shot-making ability came as a surprise to most from a player who had slipped to the 56th pick in last month’s NBA Draft, Magic guard Victor Oladipo simply shrugged his shoulders. After all, seeing Marble make shots is something that Oladipo has seen for years since their past battles in the Big 10.

``I’ve been knowing Devyn since we were freshmen in college. So if there is anybody who hasn’t been surprised by his performance it was me,’’ Oladipo said. ``The day I found out that we got Devyn, I was one of the most excited dudes in America. He’s been scoring like this and playing like this since he was a freshman in college. He’s a really good basketball player and he still has room to get better. I’m definitely glad we got him.’’

The Magic are also plenty glad that they were able to snag a versatile talent such as Marble late in the second round of the draft. A star at the University of Iowa, Marble finished his college career as one of only two Big Ten players since 1985–86 to amass at least 1,675 points, 375 assists, 450 rebounds and 175 steals. He also finished his career ranked fifth in Iowa in scoring (1,694 points).

Marble, a 6-foot-6, 200-pound guard, has averaged 9.7 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.7 steals in three summer league games for the Magic (2-1). Marble didn’t shoot the ball well on Tuesday in an 80-73 loss to Memphis, but he was hardly alone among his cold-shooting Magic teammates. Marble still had a nifty steal and save that created a fastbreak and he was tough inside with six rebounds.

If the name sounds familiar, Marble is the son of University of Iowa legend Roy Marble, who scored a school-record 2,116 points during his career with the Hawkeyes. Together, Roy and Devyn are the only father-son duo in the history to each score at least 1,000 points.

The younger guard/forward prefers to be called Devyn even though his first name is Roy and officials at Iowa listed him as ``Roy Devyn’’ so as to capitalize on the link to his famous father. He said he had no hesitations in going to the same school where his father starred because the two are different kinds of players and from dramatically different generations.

``There was (more pressure), but I didn’t think much of it because I went to Iowa to play basketball. I didn’t care what (Roy) had done there and what his accomplishments were in the ‘80s,’’ Devyn said. ``I just looked at it as an opportunity for me to play basketball. I honestly didn’t think I was putting myself in the predicament that I was putting myself in because I had confidence in myself. I just prayed on it, talked to my mom and I felt like we made the right decision.’’

Roy Sr., who had two stints in the NBA and played professionally for seven years, accompanied Devyn to Orlando for his post-draft news conference along with No. 4 pick Aaron Gordon and No. 10 selection Elfrid Payton. Devyn said he’s shied away from talking too much to his dad about his NBA time, instead hoping to learn through his own experiences. The two used a similar philosophy during Devyn’s time at Iowa to avoid the comparisons between the two players.

``He always let me go through my own process as a man,’’ Devyn said. ``He did that throughout college and I had a lot of success doing that. So we’re just sticking with the blueprint.’’

As a second-round pick Marble knows that he has no contractual guarantees and must do everything in his power to try and impress the Magic. He hopes that he can earn a contract for next season and get an invite to training camp so that he can stick on the roster. Marble said there is no fear for having to fight and claw his way into the NBA.

``I’ve been like that my whole life, having to always show what I can do,’’ Marble said. ``It’s especially like that now. Even if I was guaranteed something I’d still work my butt off. That’s just the position that I am and the way that the business is. I’m just working and trying to prove to them that I’m worthy of being on the team.’’

Marble has impressed summer league coach Wes Unseld Jr. with his confidence, basketball smarts and versatility so far. Unseld said he was so impressed with Marble after five practices that he knew that Devyn would be a standout in the summer league. Unseld Jr., whose father was a star for years with the Washington Bullets, said that it’s easy to tell that Devyn grew up around basketball because of his father’s ties to the game.

``He’s got a good feel for the game, he understands the nuances, he’s able to be a playmaker and he’s worked on his catch-and-shoot game,’’ Unseld Jr. said. ``You see (the similarities to his father) in the details. He’s quiet kid and unassuming, but when you watch him play you see that he understands the details of the game.’’

Marble mostly checked guards – such as Oladipo at Indiana in their Big 10 battles – but he’s being asked to battle small forwards this week in summer league. Marble is hopeful that his ability to play multiple positions – both offensively and defensively – will give him a shot at making the Magic.

``Defensively I’m trying to show that I am a very versatile defender and a person who can cause a lot of havoc,’’ he said. ``I think I’ve always shown that I have the ability to score the ball in a variety of ways – shooting, coming off screens and getting to the basket. My overall playmaking abilities, I think I’ve shown off a lot of things.

``I guarded more (point guards and shooting guards) than (small forwards) in college,’’ Marble continued. ``I played the one and two in college. I have the size and the ability to guard most threes, especially as I get stronger. It’s my versatility defensively and being able to guard several different positions that gives me the edge on the court.’’