Notebook: Blackmon excels at USA Basketball mini-camp

Dylan Burkhardt

James Blackmon Jr at USA Basketball 2James Blackmon Jr. caused a flury of internet speculation last week when he tweeted that a decision was coming soon immediately before Michigan’s entire coaching staff made an in-home visit. He didn’t commit that evening, as some speculated, but he continues to move closer to a decision.

Blackmon was back on the court over the weekend, participating at USA Basketball’s development camp, and he didn’t disappoint. Blackmon was one of the top performers at the event, demonstrating his full arsenal of offensive skills. ESPN named him a top performer

Blackmon can shoot the ball off the catch and dribble or finish in traffic, but he also has an excellent basketball IQ and feel for the game. He can pass well enough to help at the point, too. Blackmon reads and reacts to game situations like an old veteran, and he is also a threat to drill an open jumper from most anywhere on the floor.

Blackmon also updated his recruitment to Zags Blog, giving some more information on his timeframe.

“I really don’t have a timetable in mind but it should be before the November signing period, but I’ll probably commit before then,” he told by phone from USA Basketball in Colorado Springs, Colo. “I really don’t have a date set up, I’ll probably know that in the next week or so.”

“I enjoyed it a lot,” Blackmon said. “The coaching staff is just real down to Earth there and they told me that I could come in and make a big impact as a freshman and sophomore year maybe even run the team if I work hard and they get you better.”

Blackmon still plans to take his official visit to Kentucky on October 18th but a decision could be coming in the later-half of this month. He discussed his finalists with also praised Blackmon’s performance at the event:

There may not have been a better player during Saturday’s morning session and Blackmon definitely continued his impressive play in the evening. One of the class of 2014’s best shooters, Blackmon had his shot working at a very high level on Saturday, to the point where if he put a shot up, you just assumed it was going to fall. Further, he was drilling floaters, making him even more difficult to guard.

Derryck Thornton Jr at USA Basketball 2Other USA Standouts

Top Michigan point guard target Derryck Thornton Jr. was named a top performer by and ESPN:

2016 point guard Derryck Thornton (Simi Valley, Calif./Findlay Prep) played extremely well. He is a quick and complete point guard who can push the ball, pass at high speeds, run the offense and score as needed. He has a passion for playing and understands he role based on the environment. Thornton list offers from UNLV, USC, UCLA, Arizona, Oregon St., UTEP, New Mexico, Vanderbilt, Connecticut and strong interest from Michigan, Kentucky and Duke.

Thornton plans to visit Arizona next weekend.

Thornton’s visit to Ann Arbor with Tyus Battle (another Wolverine target at the USA Basketball Camp) fell through this fall but Michigan has prioritized the class of 2016 lead guard and remains in very good shape in his recruitment at this early stage.

Chatman named an ideal three-and-done

ESPN combed through the class of 2014 to look at some of the top players with pro-potential that will be around for more than a year. Recent Wolverine commitment Kameron Chatman made the cut.

He’s like Copeland in that he’s uniquely talented but perhaps even further away physically. He’s a long, skilled and heady lefty but still potentially growing and not yet totally fluid with his floor game. Give him a chance to develop physically, put him in a college weight training program and add an offensive system built for him and you’ve got a potential star a few years down the road.

Devin Booker also earned a spot on the list due to his offensive repertoire.

Other Notes

  • mattD

    FWIW – Sam Webb is of the opinion that we close the class with either Blackmon or Booker, but that is all. No 5th scholarship will be allocated per Webb – in other words no Johan Bolden.
    Personally, I’m happy that Bess seemingly has more interest in MSU than UM, no way in hell would I turn away Blackmon or Booker for Bess.

    • Tyrell

      I agree with your last sentence. My question is this: if we miss on Booker and Blackmon, would we go after Bolden or would we just stop with the 4 we currently have?

      • I think that’s the question. Adding Bolden after adding a SG would be stretching it. But if you miss on the two SGs, do you still recruit Bolden as best available player on the board?

        • mattD

          Assuming the coaching staff isn’t able to get Booker or Blackmon, I don’t foresee any other prospect within the same talent range as Bolden showing interest in Michigan. That being said, I think you wait it out, especially in light of his father’s past history with the Michigan/Flint area. This guy is the epitome of a stretch 4, he has LeMarcus Aldridge written all over him.

          • guestavo

            I see him as more of a Nicolaus Batum type

          • jkuofm27

            I can see Batum, or even filling out into a Battier (defense and outside shooting). I see elements of Aldridge, but Aldridge is almost 7’0.

        • Tyrell

          Dylan, I have asked this before but I would like your perspective, IF we were to get one of those two shooting guards would you worry about someone getting upset over diminished playing time?

          • jkuofm27

            I heard Dylan doesn’t do preservatives. He’s a Whole Foods kind of guy. J/K

          • Tyrell

            Good catch, I am a terrible speller and I clicked on the wrong auto correction.

          • jkuofm27

            I was just giving you a hard time. You could tell it was an auto correct and I just thought it was funny.

        • brad

          Just wondering how the whole Hatch thing is gonna be? I thought he wasn’t cleared to play in Indiana so will he come in and be a medical scholly. It is good we are sticking by our word but when it comes down to it this is essentially a business.

    • DingoBlue

      100% agree I would not want to turn away Blackmon or Booker for Bess. If true about finishing with a SG, then I’m a little sad they don’t go after (Edit) Bolden, but I would still be pleased with a nice class overall.

    • chazer

      Thanks for the update. Wow, if Michigan gets one of the great two guards that probably moves them into the top ten for 2014 recruiting. Not bad given the core group already in house. Add Zimmerman next year or Stone and you again have a projected top ten team for three plus years. Curious where Bluiett lands and if he comes back into play…. the staff had a lot of time invested.
      GO Blue!

      • Tyrell

        I just hope Bluiett stays in Indy and goes to Butler so we don’t have to play against him in the B1G.

        • Champswest

          That would be good, but I have a hunch that he ends up at IU. It makes me wonder why he passed on UM in favor of UCLA and then decommitted so soon.

        • mattD

          Word is Xavier is coming on strong for Bluiett

          • jkuofm27

            I have heard some people mention that we are basically done with something happened? If Booker/Blackmon go to say UK and back to IU, would Bluiett be back on the table?

          • geoffclarke

            Well, Bluiett did cancel his visit for the Central Michigan football game, decided to go visit UCLA instead, and asked the Michigan coaches if he could visit for Notre Dame instead. Then he decommits from UCLA. Doesn’t seem like a kid running through the doors to play at Michigan. In short, I don’t think he’ll ever be back on the table.

          • guestavo

            MSU is now recruiting him, too *side eyes

    • UMHoopsFan

      I’m not sure Bess has more interest in MSU than UM. We’ve heard for a while that if Bess were to visit Ann Arbor and get an offer he’d commit. I think Bess is probably excited by his offer from MSU and wants to move forward on that kind of opportunity, while UM feels good enough about Booker and Blackmon (and their wing commits in general) that that they’re not going to consider moving forward with Bess until they hear from their top two if at all. I think it shows UM’s above-board approach that they’re being honest with Bess despite interest from a rival, and good for Bess for working hard and sticking it out and getting the kind of offer he wanted.
      As for Bolden, the good think about a spring signee is that UM can continue to keep in touch and see how things go. If something unexpected happens and Bolden remains interested (or Exum decides he wants to go to college), UM can see how things play out. Although the coaches obviously wanted Grantham, I really like how this class is shaping up and the spot we’re in.

      • jkuofm27

        I have held out hope that we could land Exum and Bolden. Then with Stauskus, Exum and Bolden we have reunited the empire.

        • UMHoopsFan

          Maybe get a transfer in from that 7’4″ Indo-Canadian Bhullar?

    • guestavo

      Indiana and Wisconsin have jumped into the Bess race, as well.

  • Kenny

    I guess that the coaches are feeling good about Blackmon/Booker, given that they are not jumping back to Bluiett. I hope that we get Blackmon, as his ability to play PG does give more flexibility for the small 2015 class. I guess that potential to play PG is a major selling point to Blackmon now.

  • Brody

    Fear the bald spot! Shades of WALLACE

    • Webbdog

      Not Bald Spot but Gray Patch!

  • JVS

    Rivals headline says Blackmon has announced his decision date? Any truth to this or just a teaser?

  • Wayman Britt

    Mr. Blackmon – UM is a great school for you. You would be the man in Ann Arbor. Looking forward to see you in the maize and blue.

  • Fab 5 Legends

    Booker or Blackman would be an amazing addition to this great class already…i have a feeling Booker comes to Michigan