Five-star Blackwell staying patient, focusing on improvement

  • 05/20/2014 1:10 pm in

FISHERS, Ind. — Class of 2016 Christ Presbyterian Academy (Tenn.) wing Braxton Blackwell has already amassed 15 scholarship offers, but his recruitment is less than a month from taking on a significant change.

That’s because college coaches will be able to communicate directly with Blackwell for the first time beginning at 12:00 a.m. on June 15. At the adidas Gauntlet at Best Choice Fieldhouse over the weekend, the 6-foot-8 rising junior said his classmates at school have already started to discuss which school will reach out first.

“I’m still wondering who is going to be the first to call,” he said. “Some kids at my school made a little bet to see who is going to be the first to call.”

So who is the getting the most buzz?

“Right now, everyone is going with Tennessee or Memphis,” he said. “A few said Vanderbilt, but Tennessee or Memphis, really.”

Given the location of Blackwell’s school (Nashville), it’s not surprising that the local schools are chief among the discussion with his classmates. But his recruitment has expanded beyond the borders of Tennessee with schools like Florida, Indiana, Providence and Virginia among his top suitors.

However, Blackwell himself said he’s a bit isolated from the process right now as he lets his father, Thomas, handle the contact with coaches for now. The contact piece will obviously change soon, but his approach to the process appears to be set.

“I’m not rushing into it. Jalen Lindsey (Providence signee), he taught me a lot,” Blackwell said. “He was at CPA until his senior year. He helped me out with that. He told me to take it one day at a time and when June 15 comes, that’s when it will get crazy.

“I’m looking forward to it (June 15). I’m really enjoying the recruiting process right now. I’m not really sure when I’ll make a decision or anything like that.”

As a sophomore, Blackwell won Tennessee’s Class AA Mr. Basketball award while averaging 19.4 points, 12.1 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 2.2 blocks and 2.7 steals per game.

His high school coach, Drew Maddux, recently told Inside the Hall that he plans to use Blackwell as a more of a primary ball handler next season.

With his size and versatility, he can play and guard multiple positions, but Blackwell believes he has plenty to work on this summer while playing with the Atlanta Celtics, a powerhouse AAU program that helped produce Dwight Howard and Josh Smith.

“I’ve been working on my jump shot a little bit. Just working on that and also playing a lot harder,” he said. “Right now, if I see an open lane, I take it and go all of the way rather than just taking a shot pull-up. I should start taking more jump shots. And just learning how to get people involved more often.”

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  • PocketHoosier

    It’s dangerous to the nerves to get hopes up this high, but you can’t help but get excited about the prospect of having a recruiting class of

    Braxton Blackwell, T.J. Leaf, De’Ron Davis, and Thon Maker.
    If Eron Gordon could be added to round out that list, ho.ly.crap!

    From what I’ve seen, their skill sets seem to mesh very nicely; especially if Blackwell develops into a primary ball handler and is comfortable with the role of initiating the offense, I see no way that would not be -at the very least- a top 3 recruiting class in the nation.

    I think recruiting Davis and Maker could be in jeopardy with Kenny Johnson heading to Louisville, but it’s early enough to be hopeful for the future. Kenny Johnson was -naturally- selling Indiana to these guys while he was in Bloomington; perhaps he already did that job well enough to draw them in.

  • SCHoosier

    Re: the “nerves”. After last year..I’m gonna keep reading this stuff..hope for the best..and support the team that ends up on the floor for IU. Too many variables to get pumped up at this point. Just happy that IU is on the radar of these talented kids. Closing the deal..with today’s recruiting competition and “selfie players in an entirely different cup of tea..some may be “sweet”..and some of it really “bitter.”.

  • PocketHoosier

    I completely hear you.
    …I totally thought that Theo Pinson was a lock for candy stripes. Losing him was a huge bummer, because Indiana was positioned to help him develop into the player that he said he wanted to be and he was the quality of prospect that could have done great things for the Hoosiers.

    When he chose UNC, I thought that was a bad basketball move for him and I didn’t mean that as a biased homer that was just having sour grapes. He’ll surely be a pro and he’ll be really, really good for the Tar Heels, but I thought Indiana could have developed him into something great; …what might have been.

    I learned a long time ago that the early recruiting landscape very very rarely works itself out as you initially hope, so it’s just best to stay reserved and wait until recruits start committing and choosing Indiana to get excited. But, after having to essentially ignore basketball for 3 years to maintain my sanity while the program thrashed around, I was pegged on the excitement meter at the prospect of stacking together several recruiting classes with a top tier “splash” talent.

    I think that right now I’m just looking for anything “Indiana Basketball” related to get excited about.

  • Bryce Kepner

    I just don’t think we have a shot with Maker at all. I know he is still a few years away, but we got to the party late on this guy. He had tons of offers before we even took a look at him.

  • HoosierGrampy

    As has been the case with a lot of recent classes, there will be at least 2-3 bigs surface from within the 2016 class who will be tabbed as being “Program Changers”. Azibuike is no that far behind Maker right now, nor was Swanigan until he reclassified. These guys truly will be Program Changers–both by their arrival AND their departure after 1–maybe 2 years tops. Point being a lot can change on the recruiting landscape in 2 years.
    I’d personally rather see Daniel Giddens and/or Doral Moore from the ’15 class in stripes and focus attention on TJ Leaf.

  • PocketHoosier

    If Crean can land one of those two guys, then the likelihood of adding Maker would probably drop close to zero, but that would be alright.

    The last I heard, Thad Matta was going hard after Giddens and Giddens was listening to him; I haven’t heard much about Doral Moore.

  • HoosierfaninKY

    Yea there is no need to get all hyped up… My favorite out the bunch is De’Ron Davis and I really think w have a legit chance in getting him. I enjoy the thought of having our roster with him and TJ Leaf…. i think its posible. fingers crossed

  • CreamandCrimson

    Good post. I’m not criticizing anything but I am curious about one thing you wrote…”If Eron Gordon (probably the most unlikely of the bunch) could be added…” Why do you think Eron Gordon is the least likely of the group you listed to end up at IU (or did I read that incorrectly)?

  • PocketHoosier

    I was trying to pack in a lot of opinion into as few words as possible. From what I understand, -and I could be totally wrong- Eron is interested in playing somewhere that he would not be in the shadow of Eric.

  • CreamandCrimson

    Interesting and thanks for the reply. I hadn’t heard that. If that’s the case, best of luck to him and I would understand. I’ve seen him play several times and I’ve yet to see him play up to the level of his “elite” status (I know he’s still young though). The 2016 class has a whole lot of talent so it certainly wouldn’t be a catastrophic loss.