2016-2017 Player Profile: James Blackmon Jr.

  • 10/27/2016 8:24 am in

With the start of college basketball season on the horizon, we’re taking a long look at the conference at large as well as Indiana’s roster this month. Today, we continue our look at Indiana’s roster with James Blackmon Jr.

James Blackmon Jr. enters his junior campaign with a clean bill of health and a chip on his shoulder.

“When you hear stuff like that, you want to show your best and I feel like I will do that this season,” Blackmon Jr. said at Big Ten media day about his response to the criticism he received for his defense in 2015-2016.

That criticism was valid. Before a late December season-ending knee injury cut Blackmon Jr.’s sophomore campaign short, he struggled with positioning and awareness, this perhaps its most glaring example:

Indiana’s overall defense was rough in the non-conference and Blackmon Jr. was one but one piece of its larger puzzle. And his exit from the lineup wasn’t the sole factor for Indiana’s turnaround on the defensive end of the court once the Hoosiers hit the thick of their Big Ten season. Still, Blackmon Jr. has something to prove. But he definitely seems aware of this and is up for the challenge.

Where Blackmon Jr. doesn’t need to show marked improvement? His shooting.

In the 13 games he played in last season, he made 50 percent of his 2s (36-of-72), 46.3 percent of his 3-pointers (37-of-80) and 85.2 percent of his free throws (23-of-27). Those high efficiency numbers on his 2s and 3s were good for an effective field goal percentage of 60.2, nearly 10 percent better than his freshman campaign (51.2). Blackmon Jr. came to Bloomington as a prolific scorer and he’s made good on that in his one and a half seasons of play.

But with Yogi Ferrell gone and Indiana entering 2016-2017 looking for a playmaker by committee backcourt, Blackmon Jr. is going to be relied upon to evolve his offense game. He’ll need to make plays for others and himself, play on and off the ball and be a threat to score in transition both at the basket and beyond the 3-point line. And perhaps most importantly, when the shot clock is winding down and Indiana hasn’t found an advantage over the defense, can Blackmon Jr. create his own shot and bail the Hoosiers out?

Bottom Line: The keys for Blackmon Jr.’s junior campaign: make good on improving his defense and staying healthy. The offense should be there. After testing the NBA draft waters earlier this year, it’s possible this will be his last season in Bloomington—no matter what the draft boards say about his potential to get selected or not.

Quotable: “Making the game simple, him getting better at moving without the ball, him being ready to shoot. Not everybody coming out and trying to show how much better they are at the things that they’ve worked at because they are. I mean, we have added some real skill. I have no doubt. But now we’ve got to transfer it to live, right, and the best way to do that is to make it as simple as possible.” – Tom Crean on Sept. 30.

Previously: Devonte Green, Grant Gelon, Curtis Jones, De’Ron Davis, Juwan Morgan, OG Anunoby, Thomas Bryant, Josh Newkirk, Freddie McSwain, Robert Johnson

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  • Ole Man

    Below are his career figures, a total of 46 games:
    These are the numbers I can access and since they include
    ALL games and not just his 13 games of last pre-conference season, I think they represent a more complete, non-cherry picked picture. Good numbers, but nothing outstanding.

    FG%
    43.6

    FG3%
    40.9

    FT%
    81.5

    eFG%
    53.6

  • Indiana_Banners

    Lol he is over 60% in eFG, which is cited in the article(60.2%). None of the numbers I used, from Kenpom, are fudged.

    You’re moving the goalposts now as if career numbers are somehow more representative of where James is as a stronger, more experienced athlete. They’re not more representative, which is why advanced analytics professionals like Luke Winn and Ken Pomeroy use the previous year’s stats when projecting a given player’s performance in an upcoming season – it’s the most accurate method. You’re really grasping at straws here.

    And I love how you’re accusing ME of name calling now – do you wonder at all why your previous posts were deleted? Maybe consider that you’re acting inappropriately.

  • Indiana_Banners

    There’s a reason why no one who uses stats to project upcoming seasons uses career numbers – numbers from the previous season, like the ones I cited or the ones cited in every preview article on this site or the ones used in projections done by Luke Winn or the ones used in projections done by Ken Pomeroy, are much more accurate.

  • Courtney Graber

    I had thought of that and I really hope you are correct. It’s all I’ve been able to see of JBJ since the injury and what I saw worried me. Glad to hear that you aren’t worried. I think his defensive buy in is so important for this team.
    Looking forward to Tuesday!

  • Ole Man

    Not all, thank you.
    Please note, some of yours were deleted as well.
    There’s a reason for that.
    I want to talk basketball.
    You don’t.
    It’s your opinion or the highway.
    I’m blocking you.
    Bye, bye.

  • Ole Man

    Yeah, right. 13 games against “Nobody State University” gives a compelling picture.
    ROFL!

  • Ole Man

    1.7 assists isn’t a lot of passing, but it does indicate the occasional pass 🙂

  • dwdkc

    He won’t have the impact for the team that Alford did. Remember Alford was national POY. We tend to diminish guys in our memories who couldn’t make good pros, but with Knight’s system and his shooting, he was a major force in college.

  • BL4IU

    Just rewatched the ’87 tournament run the other night. Alford was a great college player; absolutely no intention to demean Steve. I believe James has the talent to essentially play the same way, and add a little with his ability to score off the drive. Come to think of it, wish Coach would require James to watch Alford tape over and over and over again.

  • IUMIKE1

    I often wonder if that kind of thing isn’t a holdover from his high school days, where it was necessary for him to be such a high volume shooter, and that he, so far, hasn’t seen the reason to change when it comes to that aspect of his overall game. I’m sure some would argue that it isn’t that he hasn’t seen any reason to change but rather knows it and refuses to change. This season should provide some real clarity on several fronts when it comes to JBJ and his overall game.

  • Ole Man

    Hmmmm…..could be.
    You’re totally correct in that this season should provide clarity.
    Personally, I’d love to see James coming off the bench with JN and RJ starting. I think he could still get 15 points a game doing that, and provide instant offense.

  • Ole Man

    He doesn’t produce at the highest rate on the team.
    Last year, before he went down, he was third.
    In his career he isn’t even close.