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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