That’s A Wrap: James Blackmon Jr.

  • 04/17/2017 9:11 am in

Welcome to “That’s A Wrap,” our player-by-player recap of the 2016-2017 Indiana Hoosiers. Up next: James Blackmon Jr. (Previously: Devonte Green, De’Ron Davis, Grant GelonCurtis Jones, Juwan Morgan, Thomas Bryant, OG Anunoby, Freddie McSwainJosh Newkirk, Tim Priller)

Blackmon (30 games): 17.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 0.7 steals, 83.7% FT, 60.1% eFG, 42.3% 3PFG in 30.5 minutes per game

Coming off a knee injury that forced him to miss the final 22 games of the 2015-16 season, James Blackmon Jr. had his best collegiate season as a junior.

The shooting guard from Marion, Indiana, has always been known for his prolific scoring ability, and that continued in his junior year.

Blackmon’s season began with an impressive performance in Honolulu, where he scored 26 points and knocked down four triples in an overtime win over No. 3 Kansas.

Less than two weeks later, Blackmon suffered a knee injury in the loss at Fort Wayne but missed just one game. In his next appearance against UNC, Blackmon hit the game-sealing trey late in the second half.

The only game that saw Blackmon fail to make a three was on Jan. 15 vs. Rutgers when he missed all eight attempts. Three days later, Blackmon regained his stroke, going 5-for-11 from deep at Penn State, including one at the horn to clinch the victory.

His best game of the season came in the win over Michigan State on Jan. 21. Against the Spartans, Blackmon tied career-highs in points (33) and threes made (6).

The following game, Blackmon didn’t attempt a shot in the second half in Ann Arbor and missed the next three games with a lower leg injury. He returned to an Indiana team in freefall and was unable to stem Indiana’s losing skid. Blackmon appeared in the final four games of Indiana’s five-game losing streak and shot just 32 percent from three (11-for-34).

When the skid came to an end, Blackmon was a large reason why. The Hoosiers would not have beaten Northwestern in their final home game of the season if it wasn’t for his late three that cut the deficit to two.

Blackmon posted career-highs in offensive rating (122.7), two-point field goal percentage (55.3) and 3-pointers made (91), earning third team All-Big Ten status from the media and honorable mention from the coaches.

The most improved aspects of Blackmon’s game were his ball handling and ability to drive to the basket. When his crossover move was in full form, creating separation became a rudimentary task.

Blackmon is one of three Indiana players to enter the NBA Draft without yet hiring an agent. He’ll have until May 24 to decide if he’ll stay in the draft or return for his senior season.

Bottom Line: Although Blackmon’s defense isn’t a strength of his game, his offensive ability is unquestioned. He’s proved himself to be one of the best scorers in the Big Ten, and if he returns for his senior season, would provide an enormous boost to Indiana’s offense.

Quotable: “(Blackmon) just did it flawlessly. He got the ball out in front, he timed up his dribbles, his footwork was excellent, his follow through was there. A lot of times, what happens in those situations when you’re taking a shot at the end of the game, it’s very easy not to take a fundamental shot. It’s very easy to kick your leg or not follow through or rush the ball. He didn’t do any of that and was rewarded with a bucket,” Tom Crean on Blackmon’s buzzer-beater over Penn State.

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  • Indiana_Banners

    Blackmon could have a really special senior season if he does decide to return, though I don’t think it’ll help him much as a pro prospect. It all depends on what James wants.

    His dribble did improve markedly in the previous season, which allowed him to attack off of the dribble more often. Unfortunately, related to his lower leg injuries I think, his explosion was such that he got blocked at the rim pretty frequently. I feel like Yogi’s burst allowed Ferrell to finish at a higher rate at the rim last year. In any case, I think that a healthy offseason could do wonders for James’ explosiveness and lateral movement and while I don’t think that’s enough to get him drafted if he has enjoyed his time in college it could be a satisfying year for him to perform at a high level from wire to wire.

    If not, I wish James the best of luck in the pros wherever that is for him. He wasn’t a perfect player but he was a Hoosier. I shudder to think of all the nasty things some of our fans will say about him in this comment section but I’m convinced that some people follow college basketball just to dump on the kids and romanticize how tough their own generation was back in the day…

  • TomJameson

    I hope for the best for JBJ. He’s given a lot to the IU basketball program, and it’s a shame that his CBB career has been marred by so many injuries.

    I’m of the opinion that if James DID come back he really could increase his NBA stock. Granted, there is a lot against him because of his age, injuries, and any conceptions about his defensive play (not getting into justifications). But this new team will focus on defense, and most will agree that is James’s biggest lacking.

    With growth in his defense, even better offensive numbers, and a healthy senior season, JBJ could much better for his pro career chances/options. A lot will depend on his feedback this year as well.

  • Hoosier Hall

    If James comes back, he needs to show he can defend at a high level and create for others when he is shadowed or double-teamed. The draft should be weaker next year so with a 1st team all Big 10 season I could see him sneaking into a 2nd round draft pick. I still think he ends up over seas playing for a long time. Not a bad way to go though.

  • IUBizmark

    I think James was an awesome force as a college player. Offensively one of the best we’ve seen over the last 10 years. I love it when he slashes to the rim and finishes strong as it reminds us all of how strong he really is. Originally, I didn’t think he would return next season. But when I think about Miller’s packline defense, it could really benefit James as there’s not as much pressure to defend one on one.

    I hope James does what’s best for him and I’m glad he chose to become a Hoosier.

  • Todd Lindeman

    I think JBJ still hasn’t shown Hoosier nation how good he really is. I would love to see him in candy stripes next season. With that being said I would love to see him being utilized as a true shooting guard, coming hard off screen after screen ready to shoot that sweet trey of his!!

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    i think this team’s gonna be offensively challenged if JBJR doesn’t return. my guess he does come back, but who knows. if he does, the question then becomes who’s out. CM inherited a tough situation as far as that goes.

  • MK

    “awesome force” is quite a stretch

  • VOXAC30

    I would love to have JBJ back for his senior season it would be very cool. However he should go pro (hopefully NBA) because he wants to do it and he mentions it as being a career ambitions and I would hate to see him get injured and lose out on his dream. He has given us enough and I do not begrudged hime if he decides an alternative pro route – but that is just me

  • iugradmark

    I am in your camp on JBJ. He has been injured every year going back to high school. I am not sure that playing his senior year is going to help him improve his draft position. He will have to learn a new system and that is likely less advantageous to his game. He seems like a really great kid but he has also talked about wanting to play professional since before he arrived on campus.

  • VOXAC30

    So true learning a new system probably will not help him either.

  • TomEke

    Agreed on the “true shooting guard” comment.

    I’d be interested to see whether in a new system his defense improved or the team better covered for his deficiencies on that end

  • DcHoosier

    I feel bad for James Blackmon Jr. He is such a good player and people don’t realize how talented he is…..he just couldn’t get into a consistent rhythm at Indiana. Despite his numbers, he was always hampered by something.