In the months leading up to the 2016-’17 college basketball season, BTPowerhouse will be releasing a new series called the 'BTPowerhouse 25,' which features the Top 25 players in the Big Ten as voted by members of the staff. All players set to be on Big Ten rosters for next season were eligible during the staff vote with their top selection receiving 25 points and their 25th and final selection receiving 1 point.
Today, our top-25 players countdown reaches No.19, where we find Indiana Hoosiers junior guard James Blackmon Jr., who hopes to bounce back from a knee injury that kept him out of the entire conference schedule last season, and solidify himself as a leader from Tom Crean’s squad.
‘BTPowerhouse 25’ - #19 James Blackmon Jr.:
- Eligibility: Junior
- Career Totals: 46 games, 1,308 minutes, 724 points, 230 rebounds, 72 assists, 37 steals
- 2015-2016 Averages: 24.5 mins, 15.8 pts, 4.2 rebs, 1.7 asts, 1.2 stls
- Position Role: Shooting Guard
Saying this season is huge for Blackmon is an understatement in terms of reviving interest from the next level. Blackmon will have to return from now a third significant injury, suffering two last year, (the first in the summer and the second during a December practice), and a torn ACL suffered back during a high school game in 2012.
One knee injury can be enough to throw up a red flag for NBA scouts, three can end a career. On top of the injuries, Blackmon had to spend weeks fighting off transfer rumors at the end of last season. But Blackmon will be back in the candy-striped pants this season, and has the opportunity to fill a large hole in the Hoosiers’ back-court in the wake of Yogi Ferrell’s graduation.
The guy can flat out shoot the basketball. Although his point average was only up a tenth of a point in his 13 games as a sophomore compared to his freshman season, Blackmon’s efficiency improved significantly. Overall, Blackmon went from shooting 42-percent to 48-percent from the floor, and saw an even more significant jump from beyond the arc, improving from 38.7-percent to 46.3-percent.
If Blackmon can experience another jump in shooting proficiency after coming back from his injury, he’ll likely find himself among the top shooters in the country. Along with that, he could certainly find his way back onto some Draft boards.
Areas Of Improvement
Well, proficient or efficient would not be words used to describe Blackmon’s defense. His on-ball needs to improve vastly, and court awareness on the defensive end could use a nice boost as well.
It doesn’t speak well for you, when you go down with a season-ending injury, and then all of a sudden your teammates become a viable defensive unit, against consistently tougher opposition. Blackmon is certainly not the only one to blame for blunders like the game against Duke, but you also can’t say with a straight face that Blackmon could use some work when he doesn’t have the ball in his hands.
Assuming everything is fine and dandy with the knee, expect Blackmon to return as the go-to on offense for IU. It will be interesting to see if Tom Crean decides to go with a “point guard by committee” system, and if so, how much Blackmon will be relied on to bring the ball up the floor.
If Blackmon does run some point, if he can replicate the pull-up top-of-the-key of his predecessor in Ferrell, well then Blackmon may just become the most feared outside shooter in the conference and beyond.
'BTPowerhouse 25' Rankings:
- #26-31 - Players That Just Missed The Cut
- #24 - Josh Langford (Michigan State)
- #24 - Kam Williams (Ohio State)
- #23 - Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman (Michigan)
- #22 - Jalen Coleman-Lands (Illinois)
- #21 - Keita Bates-Diop (Ohio State)
- #20 - Jae’Sean Tate (Ohio State)
- #19 - James Blackmon (Indiana)
- #18 - to be continued ...