According to a report from Shams Charania, James Blackmon has been signed as an undrafted free agent by the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers. This is big news for Blackmon and all the Hoosier fans hoping he can make it to the next level.
It’s certainly a great story and one that should be celebrated by Big Ten fans everywhere. However, James Blackmon Jr. was a polarizing player during his time in the conference, especially from the rabid Hoosier fanbase and Indianapolis media.
Blackmon Jr. came to Bloomington as a highly-touted recruit and McDonald’s All-American, but in his three years as a Hoosier, he only appeared in one NCAA Tournament game. Indiana did make a Sweet Sixteen run in his sophomore year, but the success was had with Blackmon Jr. sidelined with an injury.
The heaviest criticism came in his junior year, a year where Indiana entered the season with a No. 11 national ranking. Blackmon was supposed to be the go-to guy, and while things started out well, a large portion of the blame fell on his shoulders when the team collapsed in late-January.
Former Indiana head coach and current ESPN Radio host, Dan Dakich, was one of the notable detractors of Blackmon. He famously claimed that the Indiana-native’s defense was so bad, “he couldn’t guard a chair”.
Well, now it looks like James Blackmon Jr. will be getting a shot to prove the “haters” wrong, as he will get a chance to play in the NBA.
It all comes down to hard work, however, as he knew where he fell short in scout’s eyes and worked to improve them. Following his career at Indiana, he immediately got to work and embarked on a rigorous schedule of team workouts. When all was said and done, the 6-foot-4 shooting guard had shown his skills for at least half of the NBA teams.
While he worked to improve his defense and playmaking abilities, his calling card still lies in his shooting stroke. As Big Ten fans know, James Blackmon Jr. is an above-average marksman and can be deadly when he gets it going.
During his sophomore and junior seasons, Blackmon combined to shoot 43.4 percent from beyond the arc (128 for 295) and 84.1 percent from the free-throw line (95-113). It’s always been his trademark skill and when he gets rolling, it translates to the win column. Last year, in the games where he made five-or-more three-pointers, the Hoosiers went 5-0—including three legitimate Big Ten wins.
Moving forward, the NBA is headed in a direction that will benefit James Blackmon Jr.’s game. Teams are shooting more and more shots from beyond the arc, so it’s clear how the 76ers are hoping to use him.
Hopefully, the new 76ers guard can use the NBA Summer League and earn a contract for next season. I know I’m routing for him, let’s just hope Dakich, the IU fans, and Indianapolis media, is as well.