James Blackmon Jr.‘s career at Indiana University is over.
Blackmon Jr. will sign with an agent and remain in the NBA Draft, he confirmed to AlbersAngle.com via text on Sunday evening. The 6-foot-4 Blackmon Jr. will forego his final year of eligibility with the Hoosiers.
Blackmon Jr. averaged 17.0 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 30.5 minutes per game as a junior last year, but like Troy Williams a year ago, he’s unlikely to be drafted in June’s draft. There are only 60 total picks in the two-round draft, and Blackmon Jr. is currently ranked as the 107th prospect by ESPN’s Chad Ford.
Needless to say, Blackmon Jr. faces an uphill battle, but he should have some good friends to turn to during the process. Williams and Yogi Ferrell both went undrafted a year ago but ended up on NBA rosters by the end of the season. Ferrell eventually earned a two-year contract with the Dallas Mavericks after his historic performance on a 10-day contract, and Williams is signed with the Houston Rockets through the end of the postseason.
The Blackmon-IU relationship was certainly an interesting one. It began Sept. 3, 2010, the day when Blackmon Jr. committed to Tom Crean and the Hoosiers the first time. Blackmon Jr., a freshman at Bishop Luers, had yet to play a high school basketball game at the time.
Fast forward nearly three full years to Aug. 8, 2013, the day Blackmon Jr. decommitted and re-opened his recruitment. He considered Kentucky, Michigan State, Michigan and others, but Crean stuck with him throughout the process.
Less than three months later, on Oct. 31, 2013, Blackmon Jr. announced on national television that he would re-commit to Indiana over Kentucky, which had picked up a commitment from guard Devin Booker earlier that same day.
Indiana fans loved Blackmon Jr. initially, but as time went on, many grew frustrated with his poor defense and lack of leadership. He missed most of the 2015-16 season due to injury, and the Hoosiers thrived in his absence. More than a few came to the conclusion that the team was better off without him.
Blackmon Jr. returned last season, and while he certainly had some really good moments, his deficiencies remained, and the team struggled.
Now that it’s complete, it’s hard to know what to make of Blackmon Jr.’s Indiana career. It shouldn’t be cast as a complete disappointment, but it certainly wasn’t as good as it could have been, either. In many ways, his career reminds me of Bracey Wright‘s at Indiana. The numbers were good, the talent was there, but some of the intangibles were missing. Neither guy really made their teammates better, and neither grew into the leader — vocal or by example — that their teams needed.
I wish Blackmon Jr. nothing but the best as he prepares for the next step in his basketball career. You can question the decision all you’d like, but I think it’s wrong to criticize or bash a kid for making a decision he feels is the best one for him. At the end of the day, he’s just chasing his dream and trying to make a living like each and every one of us. I thank him for being a Hoosier, and I wish him well.