Signee interview: James Blackmon Jr.

  • 05/03/2014 7:53 am in

FORT WAYNE, Ind. — Class of 2014 Marion (Ind.) guard James Blackmon Jr. is the fourth McDonald’s All-American to sign with Indiana under Tom Crean and he is expected to bring much needed perimeter shooting to Bloomington next season.

On Friday night at the Hensley Memorial Run-N-Slam at the Spiece Fieldhouse, Blackmon Jr. was in attendance to watch his younger brother, Vijay, and he sat down with Inside the Hall to talk about his recent experiences at the McDonald’s All-American game and Jordan Brand Classic, his future at Indiana and much more.

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  • Miamihoosier

    I’d take Ferrell and Blackmon over the Harrison twins, or any other back court duo this season…..it’s not an accident that Napier and Boatright won the title this year…..they were the best back court duo….Ron Baker and Fred Van Fleet will challenge our guys for best in the nation. If we ran in to them in the tournament, we would need Troy Williams, and our bench to dominate….most other teams just aren’t going to have the offensive fire power to match us. This is going to be a fun team to watch. I think we’ll finish about 4th in the league, but at season’s end our defense will have improved enough to make us capable of a deep tournament run.

  • JWaltFTW

    Love it.

  • Hoosier Hall

    Van Vleet and Baker are outstanding. The Shockers will still be good even though they lost Early. I can honestly say I was disappointed when UK squeaked by them. I’ll have to agree with you on Yogi and JBJ and it should be fun to watch them against the likes of Mudiay/Moore, Jones/Rozier/Snider and Walton Jr./Levert/Irvin.

  • ForeverIU

    Don’t want to be a party pooper, but I hope you’re right and Jeff Goodman’s Fab 50 for 2014-15 is wrong.

    #3 Wisconsin
    #13 Ohio State
    #22 Michigan State
    #27 Michigan
    #28 Nebraska
    #30 Maryland
    #34 Iowa
    #39 Minnesota
    #41 Illinois
    #43 Indiana

    I know it’s still early, but if this prediction is right, we will be 10th in the league.

    What y’all think?

  • Snookafly

    Their backcourt is tough, but the Shockers don’t scare me at all. I saw them in person this year, and I’d have to say they were good but still overrated. As impressive as their streak was, it’s impossible to deny it consisted of wins over nobodies.

  • Snookafly

    On paper we have top 4 talent, but we haven’t proven any of it. Personal feelings aside, this year comes down to coaching and preparedness.

  • ForeverIU

    My goal is a strong offense and point production similiar to that of lthe 2012-13 team; namely, 79-80 points per game. Which means Yogi/James average 30 pts, Stan/Troy/Devin/Hanner average 35, then the bench (Robert/Max/Colin/Peter/April/Tim/Nate) average 15. Doable?

  • TomJameson

    I think this COULD be a special year. Not just talking about talent, which we have plenty of, but attitude as well. I really hope these guys bond, play well together, and play with chips on their collective shoulders. I want them to have fun playing as well. Be serious, but have fun playing.

  • TomJameson

    IMO, I think IU is being a little overlooked in all the rankings this yea because of how we played last year. I also believe the chemistry will be better, the talent will be more balanced ( got shooters), and the attitude will be better. At least in my future looking dream world. LOL

  • iuoiu

    It’s easy to put us there. For the guy who does not look at this blog frequently, I’d bet the two first thoughts when thinking about us next year are
    1) Best player went to NBA.
    2) Team didn’t perform well last season.

    So yeah I’d be very surprised to see us ranked anywhere going into the season but those don’t matter much. It’s not like college football where if you are not ranked highly pre season you face a huge uphill battle to get into a top bowl game. Reason #1029 that college football sucks.

  • TomJameson

    IMO the potential of this team is pretty high. I believe the leadership and chemistry of the team, and the coaching, will dictate how much of that potential is reached.

  • Arch_Puddington

    Since you saw them in person and I did not, I am not in a great position to argue. But I will say this: I saw the game on TV against Kentucky, and I thought they were every bit as good as advertised. Fantastic guard play, great overall team smarts, and much more athletic than I would have expected. I thought they were the better team technically, but in the end they got worn down by Kentucky’s size. If that game was any indication, they were as good as anyone in the B1G this year.

    And on a side note, I was sad for a good while after that game, not because I care about Wichita State, but because I loved their style of play and I really wanted them to prevail over the bad guys. It was just another reminder — not that I needed one — that the world of basketball has changed. I am still a fan, but it is not as fun as when teams stayed together and learned to how to play great team basketball. The athletes are better today but the aesthetics of the game are not.

  • Arch_Puddington

    Wisconsin and OSU are clearly out of our league, but other than them I see no one who is so good that we can’t compete. Michigan and Michigan State have both lost a huge amount of their productivity and leadership from last year, and neither has an especially strong recruiting class coming in. Maryland has a nice recruiting class, but they also have lost a lot from last year and seem to be in some disarray.

    Assuming no further “developments” between now and November, I see us as in the 4-6 range, depending largely on a) how quickly we can establish a clear rotation, and b) how well we can defend the interior. If CTC spends the entire season experimenting with combinations and running players in and out of the game, and/or if HMP, DD, and JA can’t hold their own in the middle, we might be in for a long season. But ultimately I expect things will be more settled than last year, and I think that a team with good guards and good shooters will be competitive even without dominating post play.

  • Alford Bailey

    Absolutely no way IU should be 10th in the league. If that happens we will see changes made. The league will be down as a whole and our shooting will be vastly improved with one of the best back courts in the country. Should be top 4 in the conference. And I’m usually pessimistic.

  • Alford Bailey

    I was sad too because Wichita had that game won and let it slip away down the stretch. As a player going back and watching the film of that one would be really tough.

  • ForeverIU

    I will respond to the other me. We will prove you wrong Mr. Goodman!

  • ForeverIU

    Love your post. I hope CTC won’t be tempted to experiment too much with Jeremiah, Tim, and Max (to the point of giving us a dizzying substitution pattern and rotation). But this will depend on Hanner’s and Devin’s levels of production. You seem to think JA will play more of a role than I imagined. I hope you’re right and is ready to put in productive minutes.

  • ForeverIU

    Last year the early predictions (even at season’s start) had us around #25. I hope it will be the other way around this coming season.

  • IUMIKE1

    Something tells me that next year there will be situations in some games where, with the makeup of our front court being what it is, he has to be on the floor whether he’s completely ready or not.

  • IUMIKE1

    Nobody wishes the Shockers would have won that game more than the various pieces of furniture that were in the same room as the TV that I watched that game on.

  • Snookafly

    30+ pts. per game from Yogi and JBJ = no doubt. The rest is anyone’s guess. So much of it comes down to confidence and the maturity to be consistent, especially with young shooters.

  • ForeverIU

    LOL!

  • ForeverIU

    Not a good sign if we have to bring in an inexperienced player out of desperation.

  • Arch_Puddington

    After last season I think we are all nervous about how playing time will be allocated. I’ll understand if CTC does some mixing and matching early on, but if we haven’t settled into a clear rotation of 7-8 primary players by the time conference play starts, something will be wrong.

    As for JA, my comment had less to do with any specific expectations of him than with the bare-knuckle reality that along with HMP and DD, he is all we have inside. I don’t know enough about him so say what he can contribute next year, but it seems safe enough to say that in order for us to finish in the top half of the B1G and make the tournament, either he or HMP are going to have to show that they can consistently defend the post. DD can complement them as an undersized (but effective) PF, but one of the other two is going to have to be able to keep other teams from simply overrunning us in the lane. Ideally HMP will emerge as a reliable starter and JA can spell him for short stretches, but we just won’t know until we see it on the court.

  • ForeverIU

    Of course much will depend on the off-season development, but as of now I’m inclined to think that we’ll see Hanner and Devin together in the game much of the time. If Hanner doesn’t deliver, it will be interesting to see if CTC substitutes JA in for him or goes with a larger guard line-up by giving more time to RJ, or a combination of both depending on who we are playing against. Another possibility we can’t discount is that Max sees minutes down low if he gains more height over the summer (6-8 going on 6-9).

  • Court Storming Hoosier

    If we don’t have 20 turnovers per game next year and keep it around 11-12 (which is still not very good), we will be a MUCH improved team. So many of our losses this year hinged on infuriatingly stupid turnovers. I hope this is the first issue addressed during the off-season.

  • Snookafly

    I hear what you’re saying about their style of play. Greg Marshall is a hell of a coach, and the combo of Baker and Van Fleet are going to make them tough again this year.
    While I would’ve loved to see them to win it all this past tourney, looking at their seeding I knew they were playing on borrowed time. When your toughest regular season opponent is Tennessee at home, there’s no way they were going to beat UK, Louisville, Michigan, Wisconsin, then UCONN.

  • David Macer

    Snook – I can agree with you to an extent. But if the guys can’t put the ball in the basket, no level of preparedness will matter.

  • CreamandCrimson

    I would be very, very (pleasantly) surprised if the combination of Troy, Stan, Devin and Hanner were able to average 35 points a game. I think Yogi and James could certainly combine to average 30 (I’d expect something similar) and the bench combination you named getting 15 is doable but 35 from the four guys you mentioned is a really tall order for them.

  • Bled4IU

    I am so excited that we have JBJ! I think that not only is he going to contribute as a freshman, but he is the type of kid that is going to attract other top recruits to come and play with him.

  • marcusgresham

    If you break that down as 12 apiece from Troy and Stan and 5.5 each from Devin and Hanner it doesn’t sound totally outlandish—especially if Troy and Stan develop reliable shots from 15-18′; even more so if one or both becomes a three-point threat.

  • marcusgresham

    I hope that against the cupcakes (and I hope there aren’t too many of those,) Jeremiah, Tim, and Max get all the minutes they can so they don’t have the same unproductive freshman years HMP and Jurkin had–of course, those three are lesser-recruited and American-born, so there should be less interference from Mark Emmert and his g(nca)astapo.

  • marcusgresham

    Hey, the kid gets five fouls just like everyone else. Let him use them!

  • marcusgresham

    I hope Davis has spent a lot of time watching tape of Clarence Weatherspoon, Jerome Lane, and Charles Barkley. Well, unless he wants to be a golfer, then scrap Chuck’s tape ‘cuz it’s turrible.

  • marcusgresham

    At the speed this team will need to play 11-12 isn’t horrible. The key will be forcing a higher number.

  • CreamandCrimson

    It’s certainly possible and I know it could be broken down a lot of different ways. Just for some perspective on those numbers…here’s what the 2012-2013 team (nation’s leading offense):
    -Zeller with 16.7
    -Oladipo with 13.6
    -Watford with 12.3
    -Hulls with 9.7
    -Sheehey with 9.5

    I think we’ll be very good offensively and it will be much, much better to watch. I just have a hard time seeing four guys average 12+ ppg.

    I’d love to be wrong though!

  • ForeverIU

    C&C it would be four guys averaging 8.75 per game, not 12+, if you mean the combined 35 from Troy/Stan/Hanner/Devin.

  • mailman42

    I think we’re ranked right where we deserved to be ranked.. We lost our best rebounder & inside presence, not to mention our best 3 pt shooter!!

  • TomJameson

    I think you’re only looking at 1 side of the equation, mailman. Our offense was horrible last year because defenses could put 2 or 3 defenders on Noah, guard Yogi, and help on the rest. This year the offense will be lots more balanced with multiple shooters on the perimeter, guards attacking the basket, and wings doing the same. Nobody will be able to “focus” their defense on any one IU player next year without paying a penalty to the “other” hot hand (whoever that may be at that time). Love to have had Noah stay, but that doesn’t mean what we added doesn’t compensate the team offense.

  • PocketHoosier

    I’m disappointed every time UK’s bus doesn’t crash on the way to their game.