James Blackmon Jr. returning to Indiana for junior season

  • 05/25/2016 11:26 am in

After testing the NBA draft waters, James Blackmon Jr. has decided he’s not yet ready to take the next step in his career.

Inside the Hall has confirmed that the 6-foot-4 guard and former McDonald’s All-American will return to Bloomington for his junior season.

Blackmon Jr. played in 13 games last season for the Hoosiers before suffering a season ending right knee ACL injury two days before IU’s Big Ten opener at Rutgers.

Without Blackmon Jr., Indiana won 17 of its next 22 games and captured its second outright Big Ten regular season championship in four season.

The Hoosiers beat Chattanooga and Kentucky in the 2016 NCAA tournament before falling to eventual national runner-up North Carolina in the east region semifinal in Philadelphia.

Had he opted to remain the NBA draft, he was expected to go undrafted as he recovers from a third surgery since 2012.

As a sophomore at Fort Wayne Luers, Blackmon Jr. suffered a torn ACL in his left knee and in the summer of 2015, he underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus.

He said earlier this month that this injury has been the toughest to deal with of the three.

“It was a huge low point for me,” he told Moritz Sports in a radio interview. “Probably the hardest injury I’ve ever had to overcome. But I’m getting through it and everything looks up from here. I’m just staying positive through it all.”

In 46 career games, the Marion product has averaged 15.7 points on 43.6 percent shooting and five rebounds per game.

His decision to return is a major coup for Indiana, which will need to replace the perimeter scoring vacated by Yogi Ferrell and Nick Zeisloft.

Blackmon Jr. is expected to be a major part of Indiana’s backcourt rotation next season, a group that will also include Robert Johnson, Josh Newkirk, Curtis Jones and Devonte Green.

He said recently he’s at about 75 percent health as he continues to rehab.

“The doctors told me six months would be coming back fast,” Blackmon Jr. told Moritz Sports. “I’m at four months and I’ve been working so hard at the rehab and doing a lot extra. So I’m at four months and I feel really good. I’m not going to rush anything back or try to come back too fast.”

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  • MadMaxfor3

    Exactly! I don’t understand how people are writing off RJ at the point. Other than OG, RJ is the best defender on the team and was our most consistent 3rd option behind yogi and Thomas. How does that not translate into starting?

  • BL4IU

    Yes, it was a hypothetical discussion.

  • BL4IU

    Yes, if JBJ is fully healthy and playing like he was never injured, probably more valuable to THIS team. If he’s just knocking down a few three’s and a liability elsewhere, no way. Hell, in that case, DG would be a better option. Also, TW is really improving as a three point shooter. Anyway, time to look forward. Going to be fun to see this team develop. Virtually every player has big potential upside as we go into the season, and yes, getting everyone healthy is key.

  • BL4IU

    Agree, you’re probably a bit more optimistic but you’re also interpreting the written word differently. Anyway, in the end, I hope you’re right.

  • TomJameson

    I was thinking about that, and I believe different interpretations IS the difference. No big deal, because we’re both just guessing at a future event. LOL

    Hope you didn’t mind the back-and-forth too much, no disrespect on this end.

  • just a fan

    If anyone put together a “defensive highlights” film of JBJ before his injury it would be a short film, I think we can agree on that–whether it was lack of effort, the result of previous injuries or brain reaction time, that’s open to conjecture. After all the surgical repairs, with his lateral mobility reduced, will he he return as a a NZ role player (strictly as a shooter)? Honestly it’s easier to see the freshman Green (with his defenssive ability, fresh knees) ahead of James in the rotation

  • twarrior87

    I agree with you, but last season they had Yogi and NZ shooting threes. The defense was great, but so was being able to knock in shots from anywhere on the court. They’ll need JBJ to fill that void. Hopefully he can at least be serviceable on the defensive side.

  • Outoftheloop

    IU needs James at “Lottery Pick” level by January 2017!

  • Chappy Dan

    No worries Tom. Oleman’s lap dog just wanted to bark at you a little. LOL!

  • I think we agree nearly 100%, actually. JBJ’s offense will be vital. My only caveat is that _if_ JBJ’s defense can be at least good enough to avoid being an actual weak link in otherwise great team defense, then him being back and healthy will elevate the team to another level entirely.

    If JBJ’s defense is as poor as it’s historically been, then his offensive production will have to be spectacular to make up for it.

  • TomJameson

    Hahahahaha

  • Can’t wait for the season to start. Means sweating through an entire Los Angeles summer with no meaningful sports to keep me busy. I guess I’ll just have to concentrate on work instead. 🙂