Despite injury, Blackmon Jr. still working to improve

  • 08/17/2015 2:11 pm in

James Blackmon Jr. may have missed a significant chunk of this offseason with a left knee injury, but it hasn’t stopped him from finding ways to improve his game.

Last week at a speaking engagement in Fort Wayne, Indiana coach Tom Crean told reporters that Blackmon Jr. is still working to get better as he recovers from surgery to repair a torn meniscus.

“I’m sure he’s been doing a little bit more now since he’s been back home,” Crean said. “But we dove into where we would work on his passing from a stationary position, we’d work on one-legged shooting, we’d work on both hands, we’d work on a myriad of ways to throw the ball because he’s going to have to handle the ball a lot more for us this year.”

When Blackmon Jr. announced in April that he would return for his sophomore season, Crean said he planned to use the sophomore guard in more of an “initiator” role in his second season.

Blackmon Jr. averaged 15.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game last season, but mentioned that proving he could play point guard as one of the areas in which he received feedback from the NBA undergraduate advisory committee.

His 518 points were the third most ever by an IU freshman and he hit 77 3-pointers, breaking Eric Gordon’s record for 3-pointers for a freshman at IU.

“We want the ball in his hands more,” Crean said. “And at the same time, he’s got to be able to defend the ball even more. But he can become a more all-around player all the time and he was just working towards that, so we didn’t want to take any steps back from that. But his attitude has been tremendous. Even when he gets down a little bit when he’s injured, he doesn’t stay down because he’s got a great spirit about him.”

This is the second time Blackmon Jr. has had knee surgery.

As a sophomore at Fort Wayne Luers, he tore the ACL in his right knee, which involved a lengthy rehab. The current setback was much more minor and Blackmon Jr. is expected to be available for the start of practice this fall.

“It’s nothing compared to what he had to deal with in high school,” Crean said. “I think any time you go through what he had to deal with when he got hurt, hurt his knee and you recover as nicely, as rapidly and as effectively as he did, it’s only going to make you stronger. He’s a very strong young man, a very smart young man. And what he’s done is, he’s dove into what he can control.”

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  • Drew

    I stumbled upon a video of him training earlier this spring and it looked like he added some more bulk even so shortly after the season. Hopefully the injury doesn’t set him too far back with conditioning, explosiveness, etc.

  • sarge

    Keep on pushing JBJ

  • SilentBob

    With all the summer camps Troy attended, the arrival of Bryant and a new strength and conditioning coach,the offseason videos, and Emmitt looking like a race horse from all the muscle he has added….. I feel like us IU fans have somewhat forgot about JBJ. When he is on he might be the best scorer in the big ten. I think him meeting with the NBA was a great thing. The rare times he invested in the defensive side of the ball I think he showed he could have an impact there. If he really looks for his teammates like he did against Northwestern and starts buying in to the defensive side of the ball then he may be our best player. Sure the injury is a setback, but this is a guy who strikes me as someone who enjoys a challenge. I think everyone on this team has something to prove and that more than anything has me excited about this season.

  • Crimson&CremeFraiche

    I agree. Good post.

  • Steve Shoda

    JBJ is the best offensive talent on the current IU roster.

  • Ole Man

    3rd best behind Yogi and Troy, IMO.

  • Ms hoosier

    I agree ole man. Yogi can create his own shot where as I think JBJ needs a little more help

  • SCHoosier

    Not sure we have anybody pressing Yogi for best offensive player.

  • Bill Graham

    I.

  • Bill Graham

    G.

  • Bill Graham

    O.

  • Bill Graham

    Y.

  • Bill Graham

    I worry about his lateral quickness coming back…but that might make his 3 more consistent… He had a great % but was mainly hot or cold. I’m hoping he’ll come back like Mo (only quicker) and be knock down.

  • sarge

    Definitely

  • Dereck Johnson

    IMHO, it’s clear Yogi is the #1. Even if its just his consistency alone. Then anyone could argue between Troy & JBJ. Whoever can become more consistent first, will be the #2. Not that it matters tho. I look for Holt to become last years Hartman & hopefully Hartman keeps improving at his pace.

  • TomJameson

    I think there will be 3 or 4 players who are going to be outstanding for IU … of course that’s a good thing! LOL

    Bob, I agree with everything you said. There were 2 or 3 games where JBJ actually put in the effort of the defense side and showed flashes of what could be. If he buys into the defensive side (which I think is going to be a focus for the whole team), he is going to be very good.

    The team is filled with scorers, if there isn’t a ton of assists every game I will be sorely disappointed.

  • TomJameson

    Okay, who is this IGOY character, and how is he going to impact IU Basketball ? LOL

  • TomJameson

    Yeah, I agree with OleMan. Yogi is the clear #1. This new year is up in the air after that, but I would probably put Troy at #2 at this point. That said, I think this team is filled with scorers of every type and it is going to be really fun to determine the order of scoring behind Yogi.

  • Dagwoods

    Agree. Yogi # 1 because he’s a triple threat. When JBL gets that, he’s a pro.

  • marcusgresham

    Don’t worry too much about a return from this surgery. It’s arthroscopic and minimally invasive. I think he’ll be fine.

  • marcusgresham

    It’s Ivan Denko’s brother.

  • BallDontLie

    The picture is perfect for his “needs improvement”!!! Finishing on the left side of the hoop with his right hand, per usual 🙂

  • millzy32

    He’s really the only guy that if fully healthy and with full confidence in his game could be a go to game changer type of talent. Lets hope he gets there quickly and steps up big time this year. Kind of like Gary Harris did at MSU in his second season.

  • millzy32

    JBL make speakers:)

  • millzy32

    I agree with you but I think he is 1st when it comes to talent and potential. If he makes a sophomore leap and is fully healthy he’ll pass the other two and that will be a great thing. If not then yes I think he’ll settle back into 3rd or even 4th best on team.

  • TomJameson

    That’s a good point, but there are a couple of players that are in good position to make that same sophomore (or junior) leap. Holt is the teams pick to make the biggest jump, Troy and JBJ are motivated by their NBA review feedback. And don’t forget RJ who has a great BB IQ. He is as hard of a worker as anyone and IMO has a great ceiling. As far as Yogi goes, I see his scoring and assists getting better … hopefully the biggest jump will be his assists, but he will find it easier to score now as well.

    The whole point is that the team could “potentially” have many threats and if they develop, it could be a very tight “race” for the top 4 scorers!

  • IMSKRONG

    That is pretty normal with players.

  • TomJameson

    I think Troy fits that description. I think he will have a few monster games this year and can be very tough to contain.

    Of course then there’s Yogi. LOL

  • millzy32

    Yogi will be better served as a facilitator for the other two as well as many others. For Yogi to impress the scouts at the next level he’ll need to be an assist monster more than a go to scorer.

  • TomJameson

    I think he needs to be both.

  • millzy32

    When Yogi scores less we win more. We all like wins. His scoring is a nice bonus but it shouldn’t be his main focus.

  • TomJameson

    Let me be clear. I don’t think Yogi will have to force anything, neither assists nor scoring, Yogi will take what is given. He is a very smart BB player with great court vision.

    If they want to give him an open 3 I’m pretty sure he’ll take it. A lane to the bucket, he’ll take that too. If he has somebody open with a great look, he’ll get it to them.

    Yogi can, has, and probably will continue to, score and assist without forcing anything. Surely easier on him now that he has so many great scorers to pass it to.

    With the floor spread so much I just don’t see how this isn’t going to be his best year at IU in both scoring and assists. But, we’ll see at the end of the season where he stands. Right now it’s just a couple of guys looking at a crystal ball and trying to predict the future. LOL

  • Bill Graham

    IGOY is a Russian transfer student. He’s 7’6 and moves like Yogi Ferrell.