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OK, show of hands. How many of you thought that Steve Blake would be more in demand as an NBA player than Juan Dixon, his former Terps teammate?

You guys checked out Blake with Portland lately?

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I watched his game on television Thursday night against Phoenix. There are all these luminaries on the floor: there's Shaq and Steve Nash and Brandon Roy and Greg Oden. And then there's Blake -- who enrolled at Maryland after he couldn't get a scholarship to N.C. State -- scoring 22 points (4-for-7 on threes) and dishing out 10 assists.

Blake has started every Blazers game this season and averages 11.2 points and 4.5 assists.

Blake, who keeps in touch with Maryland and with Gary Williams in particular, is testament to the importance of finding the right system. Portland general manager Kevin Pritchard really wanted Blake because he was grounded and unselfish, and would be a good example for young players like Oden and LaMarcus Aldridge.

Blake's success proves -- happily -- that there is room in the NBA for a guy who might not possess otherworldly athletic talents but who works extremely hard. He manages the floor, has made his three-point shot more consistent and is pretty quick going to the hoop.For those of you who remember Blake from his Maryland days, I thought you'd enjoy this scouting report on Blake that I got when I profiled him for the paper in 2007.

"First and foremost, a tough guy," says Dave Telep, national recruiting director for scout.com. "My recollection of him as a high school player is he wasn't as under control as he is now. He was a really fast kid who was burning it up, but he didn't have the same command of a team as he has now."

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