When James Blackmon Jr., a 6-foot-3 guard and the 36th-best player in the class of 2014 according to 247 composite rankings, decommitted from Indiana last week after having been committed to the Hoosiers for three years, it didn’t just cause a ripple in the lake of high-profile college basketball recruiting — it made a big splash.
Blackmon soon picked up offers from top programs across the country. From Michigan State to North Carolina State to Kentucky to Louisville, Blackmon has been hearing from a who’s who of college basketball powerhouses.
A prolific scorer, Blackmon averaged 33.3 points per game this past high school season for Fort Wayne Bishop Luers, the best scoring output in the state of Indiana. Blackmon will transfer to Marion High School for his senior year, where his father, James Blackmon Sr., coaches.
This summer, Blackmon played for the Spiece Indy Heat alongside longtime Michigan target Trevon Bluiett. He credits the attention he’s been getting after his decommitment to his play over the summer.
“I felt like I showed a lot and that’s part of the reason why I’m getting a lot of attention from coaches,” Blackmon said during an interview on Friday. “Really, I just want to keep working hard and keep getting better so I can take it to the next level.”
Blackmon’s goal was to show he can be more than a scorer.
“I think I was able to show I can do a lot of things other than just score, like get others involved,” Blackmon continued. “And I wasn’t just forcing shots, just being efficient with the shots I took. I think I rebounded well and also speeded up the tempo and played good defense.”
With his reputation as one of the top players in the class firmly established, Blackmon knew he would get some looks from the biggest programs in the country was he not already committed to Indiana. Last week, he decided it was in his best interest to open his recruiting back up and see what happened.
Blackmon said he just wasn’t sure about Indiana anymore after committing before he even played a high school game on September 3rd, 2010.
“Just having a little doubt in my decision,” Blackmon said. “Being committed there for so long, I never really got a chance to see what else is out there.”
Turns out, quite a few schools were out there vying for Blackmon’s services. And one of them was Michigan.
Blackmon said his father got a call from the Wolverines soon after he decommitted, with Michigan expressing interest in Blackmon as a good fit in the Wolverine offense, a prolific scorer who can fill it up from deep. Blackmon shares the coaching staff’s opinion that he’d be a great addition to what Michigan runs.
“The coach called recently and they said they didn’t want to be the first to call me because they knew a lot of coaches would be calling me. So that was pretty cool,” Blackmon said. “They said they were interested and they asked if I was interested and I said, ‘yeah.’ I like the way Michigan plays. I think I fit their style a lot because I fit their playing style. I can shoot the ball and I like the offense they run. It was just a good feel.”
The good news for Michigan is that Blackmon is placing a significant amount of importance on every team’s playing style, figuring out which would be the most conducive to his talents.That Blackmon digs Michigan’s playing style, along with the coaching staff, makes the Wolverines a player in his recruitment.
“Their playing style really. I think it fits me well. That’s really it,” Blackmon said. “And the coaches seem like they’re good coaches.”
Michigan’s coaching staff naturally wants to get Blackmon to Ann Arbor for a visit. He doesn’t know yet when he’ll visit, but Blackmon stressed that it’s very likely he will make it to Michigan as he works on narrowing down his visit list toward the end of the summer.
Blackmon actually has been to a Michigan game before — he went to last year’s Indiana game with Austin Hatch and said it was a great experience.
“I felt like it was a good feel. It was real exciting there,” Blackmon said. “The fans were crazy, the campus was nice. I liked it.”
As for a visit, Blackmon thinks that once he gets there he’ll have an offer waiting for him.
“They said they weren’t the type of school to just extend an offer to someone they haven’t sat down and talked with,” Blackmon said. “So I feel like once I visit and I like it, they’ll probably offer.”
The competition for Blackmon is stiff. Kentucky is considered a favorite, as James Blackmon Sr. is an alum. Louisville also appears to be high on his list. Then there’s Indiana, who Blackmon insists is still positioned near the top.
As of now, Blackmon is planning a visit to Louisville on September 20th, and will likely be at Kentucky for Big Blue Madness.
For Blackmon, opening up the recruiting process at this juncture has been bittersweet. He never truly got to experience high-level recruiting because he’s been committed to Indiana for so long, and now that he’s here his feelings about the process are mixed.
“It’s actually been really crazy and hectic, since I let it go to my senior year. It’s closer to my decision,” Blackmon said. “I never really got recruited like that. It’s just been great but kind of hard to think about where I want to go.”