IOWA CITY — The reaction says everything you need to know about Devyn Marble.
The Iowa junior was asked about not ranking among a media outlet’s top 10 Big Ten basketball players. Marble, a 6-foot-7 guard, just smiled and nonchalantly scoffed.
“I’ve always been a guy that’s been under the radar,” Marble said. “I just go out there and play. I don’t even know who’s on the list.
“At the end of the day, I know I’m in the top whatever.”
There was no anger or disappointment in his voice. No inflection whatsoever. Marble knows he’s an elite player, even if others have yet to see it.
“I’m going to be the most dominant player every game, and you’ll be able to tell and everybody else will, too,” he said.
Marble doesn’t lack for confidence. In fact, he thrives on it. He knows his father’s legacy as the school’s all-time scoring leader, but it doesn’t faze him. Marble is his own player with his own motivations, and he’s set to burst on the national scene.
Marble arrived in Iowa two years ago at age 17. He worked through the freshman grind and boosted his scoring average from 5.7 to 11.5. Marble shifted to the point for much of last season and finished fifth in Big Ten assist-to-turnover ratio. He hit big shots, like a dunk over Ralph Sampson III to help Iowa rally past Minnesota. He drilled seven consecutive 3-pointers in an NIT loss at Oregon.
But now it’s about the present and making similar year-to-year strides, like climbing to 17 points a game.
“He’s going to be up way above that,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. “I’d be shocked if he wasn’t. He’s got a game. He’s got confidence. He’s got a body.
“He’s not afraid of the limelight in a big game. He wants that. So he’s going to have that opportunity.”
Along with his scoring prowess, he also might be the team’s most complete player. Sophomore Aaron White said Marble is the team’s best passer and creates opportunities for everyone with his skill set.
“He’s 6-6, 6-7,” sophomore Aaron White said. “Who are you gonna put on him? If you put a 6-8 guy on him, he’s going to go right by him. If you put a guard on him, he’s going to shoot over him. I think you’re going to see that this year.”
Marble also has earned his opponents’ respect. Michigan State’s Keith Appling played against Marble in high school. Appling said Marble has matured from being a pure scoring threat to all-around playmaker.
“I never considered him to be soft in high school,” Appling said. “I always considered him to be a pretty good player. He’s more of a complete player. He’s defending, knocking down shots. I feel like his game has gotten better throughout the course of his college years.”
Penn State’s Tim Frazier — a returning all-Big Ten selection — said Marble is the complete package.
“Obviously his height, he can dribble,” Frazier said. “As far as me guarding him, he uses his height to his advantage. He’s a mature player. He can drive. I’m pretty sure his jump shot is coming along as well. That will be a tough match-up.”
To take that next level as a player, Marble dealt with two primary areas to shore up this off-season — consistent perimeter shooting and defense. He took outside shots in the summer Prime Time League even with hands in his face to get better. His defense also received attention, including proper positioning.
“I’m at a different mental standpoint than I was last year,” Marble said. “I’m mentally focused and just ready to get the season started. I’ve just been learning and getting better. I think you’ll definitely see the difference, and you’ll see another step taken this year.”