Thursday, August 8, 2013
ESPN 100 SG backs off Indiana pledge
By Dave Telep
It was a difficult call to make. Shooting guard James Blackmon Jr. (Marion, Ind./Marion), an in-state player who committed to Indiana before he ever played a high school game, had to tell Tom Crean he needs more time to think about his pledge. Blackmon is no longer committed to Indiana, but the relationship isn’t over and he may be a Hoosier in time.
“It took me a couple of days [to call],” Blackmon said. “[Crean] said that he wants to coach me. He told me to look around and that IU has to be my last official visit. He wants me at Indiana and he can get me to the next level, and I don’t doubt that.
Shooting guard James Blackmon Jr. is ranked the No. 3 prospect in the state of Indiana and the No. 25 prospect nationally in the ESPN 100 for the Class of 2014.
“Nothing really happened, but since it’s such a big choice, I’m opening it up. I like IU. I told Coach Crean that I still want to be there, but I want to see what else is out there since I’ve been committed for so long.”
Blackmon has been on a tear since the spring. He was a highly touted freshman who hit a little lull with his game before cranking it up to the levels he was expected to be at given the advanced billing. He’s now one of the undisputed top shooters in the country and a potential high school All-American. He's rated the No. 25 overall recruit in the Class of 2014. Losing him at this stage is a critical blow for the Hoosiers. However, Blackmon is adamant that he might return to his IU roots.
“Since I really don’t know, IU is that place right now,” Blackmon said. “I’ll see who is going to recruit me and I’ll make a list. The word decommit sounds so negative. It’s not all negative. I still like IU. I still probably want to play there.”
Blackmon’s decision came on Aug. 8, but doubt began creeping in mid-July.
“It was probably a little after the [Nike Global Challenge]," he explained. "I knew that I could take a last look at it and think about it. I never wanted to have second thoughts, I wanted to be excited. When I commit (again) I want to be excited and ready to go there. I still like [Indiana] and if I were to commit back it would be because I’m excited to go there.”
In the recruiting world, things like this happen. Don’t think for a second some programs didn’t call into him to check on the status of his commitment. We’re dealing with teenagers here, and in this case Blackmon had been committed since Sept. 3, 2010.
“There really wasn’t a fear,” Blackmon said. “I was just unsure really. I know that if I go back there I’m not worried about not being able to play. It’s more that what other schools have to offer would have to really change my mind to take IU out of the picture."
My two cents: The relationship with Indiana remains strong. Blackmon is going to look around to make sure his decision is one he can be firm with once he signs. I’d expect him to gauge the interest of teams, take visits and make an informed decision. Blackmon made it clear that Indiana is still tops on his list, and it’s not lip service. Indiana could recover this commitment in time.