Former Indiana guard James Blackmon Jr. has agreed to an undrafted free agent deal with the Philadelphia 76ers, AlbersAngle.com has confirmed. The agreement was first reported by Shams Charania of The Vertical.
Blackmon Jr. opted to enter the NBA Draft and forego his senior season at Indiana despite being ranked well outside of the top 60 by every national expert. Blackmon Jr. was ranked outside the top 100 by ESPN’s Chad Ford, and there are only 60 picks in the draft.
Needless to say, Blackmon Jr. is a long shot to be on an NBA roster for opening night, but that doesn’t mean he won’t make it eventually. Yogi Ferrell and Troy Williams both went undrafted a year ago, and both guys ended up on NBA rosters by year’s end. Ferrell earned a two-year guaranteed contract with the Dallas Mavericks because of his strong performance on a 10-day contract. Ferrell had previously been cut by the Brooklyn Nets, the NBA’s worst franchise.
Blackmon’s professional opportunity will begin in the Vegas Summer League, which runs July 7-17 on the campus of the UNLV. It’s unclear at this point who will play for the Sixers Summer League team, but No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz will most likely join Blackmon Jr. on that roster. Sixers GM Bryan Colangelo said earlier this week that last year’s top pick — Ben Simmons — will not participate in summer league action.
The other guards on Philadelphia’s roster — other than Fultz — include: Jerryd Bayless (PG), Gerald Henderson (SG), T.J. McConnell (PG), Sergio Rodriguez (PG), Nik Stauskas (SG), Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (SG), Justin Anderson (SG), and 2017 draft picks Sterling Brown (SMU, SG) and Jawun Evans (Oklahoma State, PG). That means Blackmon Jr., a 6-foot-3 combo guard, has five other shooting guards and four other point guards to compete against.
Former Indiana coach Tom Crean, who has known Blackmon Jr. since he was in middle school and coached him for three years at IU, tweeted about his former player after the free agent deal was announced. Crean has returned to Twitter after a long hiatus, and he was part of The Vertical’s live draft coverage all week.
— Tom Crean (@TomCrean) June 23, 2017
Blackmon Jr. averaged 17.0 points and 4.8 rebounds on 47.7 percent shooting and 42.3 from beyond the arc in 30.5 minutes per game last season. He played only 13 games as a sophomore after suffering a knee injury.