Montreal rewind: James Blackmon Jr.

  • 08/22/2014 10:30 am in

Welcome to “Montreal rewind,” our player-by-player recap from Indiana’s five-game tour of Canada. Today: James Blackmon Jr. Previously: Nick Zeisloft, Devin Davis, Troy Williams, Yogi Ferrell, Robert Johnson, Stanford Robinson.

A theme of our Montreal rewind series has been Indiana’s retooled backcourt and the most important piece of it showed in Canada that he’s ready to be a major contributor as a freshman.

James Blackmon Jr., who committed to Indiana before his freshman season of high school, later de-committed and then committed again last fall, stepped into a Hoosier uniform for the first time and immediately began doing what he does best: scoring.

Lauded as one of the top shooters in the country, Blackmon Jr. averaged a team-high 18.8 points in IU’s five-game tour of Canada.

Efficiency was a big part of his game on the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) circuit and at Marion and his first performances as a college player were no different. The 6-foot-4 guard posted an effective field goal percentage of 65.3 and hit 13 of his 15 free throw attempts.

Most impressive about how Blackmon Jr. played on the trip was the variety of ways in which he scored and the fact that he didn’t force many shots. He hit nine 3-pointers over the five games, showed a solid midrange game and floater and also got to the basket in the halfcourt and in transition.

Indiana coach Tom Crean believes that Blackmon Jr. is going to help the Hoosiers not only as a scorer, but also as a guy who can set the table for his teammates.

“He has such a gift of scoring and shooting and feel for the game that his passing will get better,” Crean said. “His decision-making will get better but his ball-handling and explosion game has to continue to get better. You are seeing flashes of it, but you aren’t seeing it where it needs to be with the ball yet. But that will come and it will be pretty impressive when it does.”

Blackmon Jr., who chose to commit to Indiana over offers from Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, Michigan, Michigan State and North Carolina, said the opportunity to play both guard positions was a big reason he came to Bloomington.

“I thought that was one of the reasons I thought I should come here,” he explained. “He’s going to push me even to play the point guard, I can show that here.”

With Blackmon Jr., Nick Zeisloft, Stanford Robinson, Troy Williams and Robert Johnson to go along with Yogi Ferrell, the Hoosiers will have one of the league’s top perimeter units in terms of both shooting and playmakers off the dribble.

“What I’ve been trying to get across to these guys is that the harder we run, the more we run for layups – and if it’s not there, get to the corners – the better our offense is going to be,” Crean said. “We knew it was going to happen, it’s going to continue to happen all throughout the year – you have to guard the corners this year.

“You had to guard them the couple years we had the 50-plus wins and with those teams you had to guard the corners every game. You didn’t have to guard the corners last year for 3’s, you had to guard for back-cuts, now you have to guard it for everything. That just increases our ability to do so many different things on offense.”

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  • WhatsUpKnight

    man i just hope we get him for 2 years!

  • inLinE6

    He won’t leave after one year. I don’t see any NBA team’s willing to use 1st round pick on him yet. He’s certainly a light-out shooter but he’s not as polished (compared to his shooting) on ball handling, decision-making, defense. He’s lacking some explosiveness and a bit undersized if only playing at 2 in NBA. So I don’t think he leaves after one year. We should be able to see him play for us for 2 or even 3 years.

    I also think that was one of the reasons our coaching staff dealt with his decommitment totally different from Trey Lyles’ (certainly not the most important reason, I know). TL has the size and may be gone after one year. That may not help us much anyways. I personally consider NV a better player than TL but we still missed out the post season last year. But with James staying for 2-3 years, that’ll change a lot of things!

  • WhatsUpKnight

    call me optimistic, but i also think JBJ’s gonna be around for a couple years. and i don’t see TL playing more than 1.

  • Brklynhoosier

    Will Trey even play this year, though? Considering all the players in front of him. I could see it ending up a Corey Maggette situation…

  • WhatsUpKnight

    would it be too mean to say i hope he rides the pine all season? actually, i’m guessing he’ll get his share of pt this year.

  • Hoosier Hall

    I’ve always pictured JBJ as a Stephen Curry type player in the making. He’s not anywhere near that level yet but I believe he can get there.

  • Derek Morris

    Man – I’m so looking forward to the season getting kicked off but can you imagine the guard play with a senior Yogi, Junior Williams/Robinson and Sophomore JBJ and RJ? Goodness.. I would put that up against anyone in the nation. Come on staff, land a special big!

  • ForeverIU

    My hero, my avatar, lol. This kid does not take a loss for an answer.

  • ‘Nuff_Said

    He’s the real deal and we are really going to enjoy watching him throw dagger like 3’s at our opponents.

  • Snookafly

    In terms of the best player on our team, he and Yogi are 1 and 1a. He should easily be the leading scorer if Yogi goes back to focusing on distribution. He is the real McCoy.

  • Snookafly

    I will be really sad if these guys never get to achieve their full potential at IU because we lack a serious inside game. Here’s hoping Thon Maker (or someone comparable) decides to put on the candy stripes.

  • Bryce Kepner

    I don’t see TL playing much this year though. He is behind other guys conditioning wise as well because he has been out for months with an injury

  • SCHoosier

    Blackmon’s on court persona is all business. He will play within an offense which I hope is designed to get him a lot of shots. James doesn’t appear to force anything and has commented on wanting to improve his defense. Just a matter of a time before he hasfine tuned the entire package..and then…Boom.

  • Alford Bailey

    I will keep it simple, JBJ is Da Man!

  • Hoosier1158

    Too bad TL will be sitting on the bench this year.

  • jmoney

    Mark my words…for those of you that can remember back this far: he is the reincarnate of Jay Edwards. His stroke is so sweet that it looks like money every time he rises up. He’s not a superior athlete, but the man is a big-time scorer who’s not afraid to take big shots when it counts. I know that there’s still questions about this year’s squad, but it feels good to know that we now have more than one go-to guy.

  • Outoftheloop

    James is the consummate McDonald ‘ s All-American! He can and does do it all what a joy to watch him play!

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    Or if Hanner as a senior becomes a maniac…

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    I hope your right but are you saying James Young is a superior player to JBJ? Young went in the first round.

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    Cal didn’t need Lyles. He flat out went in and stole him because he wanted to clamp down on “Tommy’s shoulder” a little bit tighter. Dude got ran out of Assembly Hall in a fire drill after a gun fight. Nobody can tell me that after moment he didn’t have some type of retribution he wanted to put towards Indiana. Yeah they won the title but he still needed to make Indiana pay and I am sure this was one of the few ways outside of the games that he could. My theory at least.

  • Bryce Kepner

    reincarnate of Jay Edwards WITHOUT the issues haha

  • dwdkc

    The run of game winning shots by Edwards in 89 was incredible. That team was lousy early and ended up clinching the Big 10 a game early even with a Final 4 Illinois team and the national champ Michigan with 12 NBA players between them that year. Too bad he left for the NBA and didn’t make it.

  • Snookafly

    He has the potential let’s hope he puts it together.

  • Hoosier Hall

    JBJ is a much better player than James Young. Young had more size and athleticism than JBJ though. That’s what the NBA looks at more than anything sometimes.

  • marcusgresham

    If you sign with UK (with the exception of the odd in-state kid like Derek WIllis,) it pretty much says right up front that you don’t have any intention of being in college more than a year unless things don’t go as planned (i.e. Lamb, Jones.)

  • Outoftheloop

    Young is 4 inches taller.

  • marcusgresham

    He has the build to be a much stronger player than Curry. I’m not saying better, necessarily, but he’s quite a bit thicker than Curry, at least at that age.

  • marcusgresham

    Correct me if I’m wrong but the single-game record for a freshman at IU is 30 by Marty Simmons. Remember that number, it may go away.

  • jmoney

    I still have a VHS copy of the Michigan game from that year when he drained a trey for the win as the horn went off. I was only 12 years old then, but I’ll never forget Coach Knight jumping around in excitement. It was awesome.

  • The_Bob_Michaels

    But his daddy will be enjoying the swag-bag.

  • fourputtsforsnowman

    JBJ playing both guard positions…good luck creating a defensive strategy for that.

  • VanPastorMan

    Knight absolutely hated Bill Freider. I think the jump was because it was beating Bill.

  • Alford Bailey


  • Alford Bailey

    Its good as gone if he gets the minutes. If the roster becomes a 12 man free for all then Marty may be safe.

  • Alford Bailey

    3 guard lineup and not much offensively down low. Sound familiar? Coaching…..we wont go there.

  • ForeverIU

    Your “theory” or your “conspiracy theory”?

  • pdn Michael

    Rayl. Alford. Jay Edwards. I hope this guy continues our good luck with gunners from the North Central Conference.

  • MisterSlippery

    I don’t think he’s serious folks, I thought it was pretty funny.