James Blackmon Jr. opens recruitment, de-commits from IU

By October of 2010, Indiana already had two commitments for the 2014 class from players who either hadn’t played in their first high school game. Trey Lyles and James Blackmon Jr. both had enough success as middle school players that suggested they could be among the top players in the nation in their class, and both decided then that regardless of what happened in their next four years of high school, they would play for Indiana.

But now, three months before they were expected to sign with Indiana, neither is committed to the Hoosiers. Lyles, of course, de-committed a year ago, and James Blackmon Sr. confirmed Thursday that his son has opened his recruitment and will look at other schools.

“James committed when he was probably 14 years old,” said James Sr., a former Kentucky player who coached his son at Fort Wayne Bishop Luers and will coach him at Marion in his senior season. “Over the last couple of years when we talked, he always told me he liked Indiana, but I don’t know if he was 100 percent sure. He was probably 98 percent sure, but 98 percent wasn’t good enough. I want him to be 100 percent sure before he makes that commitment so that he’s ready for college. The only way to do that is to compare Indiana to other schools.”

The Hoosiers have had very little to do with Lyles since he de-committed close to a year ago. The Arsenal Tech forward and No. 5 player in the country according to Rivals.com narrowed his list this summer to include Kentucky, Louisville, Butler and Florida, but Indiana has long since been out of the picture.

Early indications, however, are that that will not be the case with Blackmon. Blackmon Sr. said IU coach Tom Crean was understanding when the Blackmons expressed their wishes, and that Crean gave every indication that he would continue recruiting Blackmon.

“We left on a positive note,” Blackmon Sr. said. “Coach Crean and I talked. He kind of understood. They’ve been really supportive, and I think they’re going to stay in contact.”

Blackmon Jr. has seen his recruiting stock skyrocket over the past year after suffering a major knee injury in his sophomore season and missing the entire spring and summer travel season between his sophomore and junior season. He recovered and scored 33.3 points per game for Bishop Luers as a junior and also starred for Spiece Indy Heat on the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League circuit this summer. He played on that team with Lyles, Louisville commitment Jaquan Lyle, and Indiana target Trevon Bluiett among others. Blackmon Sr. said that being around those players and others that he saw on the circuit had some influence on his son’s decision.

“The kid has played a lot of basketball this summer,” Blackmon Sr. said. “He has a lot of friends who are going through the process and they share stuff with each other. Kids start thinking certain ways, and you want them to be 100 percent all in.”

Blackmon Sr. was asked if he regretted allowing his son to commit as early as he did.

“I don’t know how answering that is going to help me either way,” Blackmon Sr. said. “James got hurt his sophomore year, I thought that helped him as far as not having to worry about playing AAU basketball and not rushing to get back. He took the whole summer to get in the weight room, and then he led the state in scoring last year. I could second-guess, but I don’t want to do that. I just want to move this process along. I don’t think Indiana did anything wrong. I still feel positive about Indiana and I still feel positive about Coach Crean.”

Blackmon Sr. said his son hasn’t had any contact from other schools yet and that there’s no timeline for him in terms of visits or when he wants to make a new commitment.

“We’re just going to sit back and let this sink in here, what we’re dealing with now,” he said. “… Now that it’s open, I’m pretty sure we’ll get some contact and decide from there.”

In the meantime, the Hoosiers are just three months from signing day and now don’t have a single verbal commitment from the 2014 class after having at least one in their pockets for almost four years. They have several offers out, including several to shooting guards, including Robert Johnson of Benedictine High School in Richmond, Va., who is scheduled to visit IU Aug 23-25.

Blackmon Jr. took to Twitter to say that he still isn’t ruling IU out.

“I never said I wouldn’t end up at IU,” he posted on his account. “I still love Indiana.”


Share the Scoop!


  • Caleb Moore says:

    Man. It’s funny…….we love getting commits super early from kids, but history suggests they wont last and will only hurt more later. I cant imagine this is related to Crean recruiting Snider and RJ. JB knows there is a massive hole at the 2 at IU and it’s not like there are a bunch of 1s and 2s loaded up in front of him. Will be interesting to see both sides statements on this. That should tell us a lot about what happened.

  • coachv says:

    wow. you’ve got to be kidding.

  • steve says:

    Not sure why you take a verbal from an 8thy grader. They rarely stick to them. We now have zero recruits for 2014 and certainly have not locked down the borders. Four good recruits from Indiana and we have zero of them.

  • Hoosier Clarion says:

    I am betting Coach Crean and staff have know something was amiss before today and the announcement of Robert Johnson’s visit date made JB show them his cards.

  • Old Sports Dude says:

    Okay at least Lyle ditched us and gave us a year’s notice. I hope CTC shows Blackmon the door and he does not let it hit him in the rear. No way I would continue to recruit him like his dad said IU should do.

    We stuck with through his injury and now looks like that he is getting attention he wants to bolt. Why are we surprised his Daddy went to UK for Christ Sakes. Any Hoosier born guy who would go to UK is bad in my book. do you hear me Walter McCarthy (goes to UK but now wants to coach Indiana Pacers).

    Good luck JBJR. Hope you like UK or whatever place you go. We don’t need people who don’t want us.

  • Southport65 says:

    Bad news!! We have already lost out on other shooting guards because we had Blackmon. Kids are fickle and his good summer must have changed things? I hope we get QS, JR or Exum. Maybe James was worried they would eat into hit PT or maybe this is why Coach was going so hard after these other guys. Getting better is playing against better players in practice. If you can;t stand the heat get out of the kitchen. ESPN just ran an article about all the kids changing schools and transferring always looking for something they think is better. This is a bad trend in College basketball. Committing to a school and staying their to get a degree is a thing of the past so it seems. His Dad went to KY so lets hope that is not his new school.

  • Bob says:

    Part of me wonders if they utilized Indiana as a platform to highlight themselves and of course guarantee a scholarship. When they’re clearly able to go where they want in the future, they then re-open and do their actual decision making.

  • Harvard for Hillbillies says:

    Like I said….Building the Jersey pipeline was a risky gamble.

    Fans begin to send signals of their discontentment when we can’t lock down the Indiana blood. CharlaTom ValvoCrean had the “floodgates” of his Cody suppository and his partial Patterson-less/Hakeem-less “Movement,” but now things are beginning to appear a bit bound up and constipated.

  • Harvard for Hillbillies says:

    Butler now in the Big East….? Michigan State and Michigan have hit some home runs with Northwest Indiana kids….? Alford with his many ties to the middle sector of the state, Knight, Adams(AAU/A-Hope), and Indiana high school basketball lore is building his own “pipeline” back to the Hoosier state…? Jim Crews at St. Louis….?

    Very important year coming up…One could even say a critical year. Does Crean have the coaching acumen to build local confidence beyond the “everything hinges” temporary energy infused by Cody? And seven years in, it’s getting a bit late in the game for continued crucifixions and chasing old Sampson demons.

  • Harvard for Hillbillies says:

    And this is why it was critical for Cody and Vic to stay one more season. A banner or a Final Four trip would have changed everything. Just putting the faith in a coach may have changed more than we’ll ever know. Faith goes beyond scripture. It plays out in the everyday in choices of personal dreams and loyalties those that helped build those dreams. It’s a travesty they never allowed Crean his best shot at leaving the shadows of Knight.

  • Rantool says:

    I just think this kid doesn’t have any integrity jumping ship at this late date? I would think he would feel a little guilty doing the Indiana coaches this way at the last minute? It shows a total lack of character, and a very low commitment level. I was taught when you made a decision, to be a man of my word, and follow through with my commitments. Not today, at least in this instance? Guess something better is coming? Very disappointing!

  • Aruss says:

    Last summer it was we have too many players and this summer we don’t have enough. You guys will always find something to complain about.

    My hope is he doesn’t sign with IU. I love his game and he reminds me of Ray Allen but we only want players that are all in. He should go to Michigan since they started this whole mess.

  • TJ says:

    I am now wondering IF JBjr didnt vount the number of players that will be leaving kentucky after this year and look at the one and done record of NBA drafts.I think JBjr wants to be a BIG fish in a small pond and that wasnt going to happen at IU

  • Ben says:

    Got to be kidding right? I almost dropped my iPad when I saw the headline on TeamStream app. I don’t want him. I understand he committed early, but once you divorce IU, goodbye. I am probably just old fashioned. Once you commit, you stay true.

    I am not worried about filling the class. I am sure CTC has many cards to play. With that said, I would like for us to no longer commit kids so far out. There young. They don’t know what they want.

  • Sam says:

    Not shocked when you see how much attention these kids get as they string programs along to the very end. Why wouldn’t this kid want the same thing? He’s a talented player and sees his friends being treated like royalty, so he opens it back up to get the same.

    Funny thing is, IU has shown love to this kid for years and some other program can now waltz in and turn his head lastt minute, get the commit. Think of the time, effort, and energy IU invested in him and now he has doubt? It’s not doubt. It’s a desire to have his ego stroked like the rest of them. Can’t really blame him.

  • Podunker says:

    Everyone wants to b3 coveted. Why miss out on all those free campus visits and to be fawned over and made to feel special. It’s all part of the experience, and no one wants to miss out on there share.

    Not a big deal, but it seems really absurd to offer a scholarship to a freshman in HS. Perhaps even more absurd for a freshman to commit to such an offer.

  • TsaoTsuG says:

    Thoughts on young Blackmon

    No doubt Harvard has been flying the “Hoosier Kids First” a long time and making the symbiotic relationship between Indiana’s greatness and its native love for ’roundball’ his standard…almost to the point of irritation.

    One point, however, needs to be recognized and repeated.

    He’s right- repeat that- he’s right. There’s little reason to go outside Indiana borders (or at least, Hoosierland and its surroundings) except, once in a while, perhaps one chosen superstar who can add to the gene pool of all-Indiana teams.

    There is a reason why the land, the cities and the towns between the Great Lakes and the Ohio River comes up more often than any other when college coaches, especially Big Ten coaches,turn in their expense reports and request their gasoline vouchers. Nowhere on this earth is the game of basketball so much a part of the culture and intuitively a part of every kid as Indiana.

    There is something wrong when kids like James Blackmon Jr. turn their back on their state and look for a hoop that is not hanging on a barn or a garage. There is something wrong when kids forged in the steel mill ovens of ‘the Region’ who grew up idolizing Steve Downing, George McGinnis, Steve Alford, Kent Benson…(oh God, it makes me sick just to think of it)go to places like Michigan and Michigan State and Ohio State to come back, fired up, just to play against the school they dreamed of as little kids.

    Nowhere are kids better prepared and their genes develop an understanding of the game than Indiana.

    Somehow, the possibility of James Blackmon Jr. leaving to play elsewhere means more, much more than the usual recruitment. I still remember the sick feeling I had in my stomach when I read…what? 30 years ago or so, that James Blackmon Sr. was going to Kentucky. He was one of our kids, right there in Marion, Indiana. Never could understand it…as I could never understand how an Indiana kid named Louie Dampier, who could hit a bee on top of the backboard from 45 feet out could start the exodus to a state that had neither a history of home grown basketball idols nor of its people caring enough about them to create good academic institutions.

    I hope James Blackmon Sr. somehow reads this. Just like I saw you in a Hoosier uniform in my mind whenever we played against you, I never could bring myself to wish you bad and somehow still managed to have a little pride in the fact that your seed was in Indiana earth. You were one of us, and that was why it meant so much your blood was staying home.

    Somehow, James Sr.- you don’t mind if I call you James? …I’ve known you a long time-, let junior know the seed grows to its destiny only in its native ground. Stay home Jim Blackmon Jr…, and bring your dad finally ‘home’ with you.

  • Higgi says:

    This doesn’t pass the smell test. If Blackmon, Jr. commits to UK then scumbag Calipari needs to be investigated by the NCAA, enough said.

  • TsaoTsuG says:

    I have to raise a question about the wisdom of focusing our recruitment for Hoosier basketball player is the middle East Coast cities? In doing so, are we somehow making a statement that will not go down well with our homegrown high school basketball…mostly acknowledged as one of the best, if not the best in the world.

    There’s a reason the name “Indiana” is thought of wherever basketball is spoke. Didn’t Tom Crean himself say the reason he wanted to leave a solid tradition like Marquette’s was simply because “it’s Indiana!”.

    I know he didn’t say “it’s Maryland!”…or “it’s Virginia!”

    What is it we can’t find in Indiana that we can find in the East Coast…or California? Why are we losing top b all players from the Region to Michigan and Michigan State? Or Ohio State? Or Kentucky? Do they not know they are from Indiana? Or, do they not know “It’s Indiana!”

    With all respect, I’d like to hear from Mr. Crean why his focus is outside the state; or if there is a reason in-state kids are not buying into basketball at home. Or something! I’m glad we have Etherington, and Davis and the Cathedral kid, and Perea, (the Hoosier kid made in Colombia). And, certainly I’d love an Oladipo or an Isaiah who become us…perhaps, that’s all we need, to have it explained to us…

    And, I question becoming so fixated on four stars ****, or five stars***** that we overlook the kid on the court down the street who, with solid coaching, puts the banners on the IU wall.

  • Harvard for Hillbillies says:


    Those are all great questions…I wish I could say it’s just about talent. And I totally agree that we shouldn’t turn our back on those few exceptional players outside our borders that want to play for THE program in a state that bleeds hoops from maple more than Vermont can make the syrup.

    I think of Indiana as the church of basketball…There’s really nowhere more sacred than the generations fused together by way of a love for basketball in Indiana.

    But it did not grow from symbols and worshiping of iconic figures inside the church outward. The deep faith in our one class high school basketball system became the solid roots of faith that the game was unique beyond any “General’s” speech or wisdom from a pulpit. The faith was quiet and grew not from the pious blood that believed Indiana kids were superior…The belief that brought those banner to Indiana basketball came from humble origins; a coming together of all from every corner our state undetermined by size of community or wealth of neighborhood. The team was the heaven, the spirit, and the faith. Indiana basketball was never about preaching. It was about the collective power of effort, god-given skills, and a humility could make for something of real faith beyond an individual’s sole greatness. We’ve forgotten how selfless those banners in the process of salivation rather than the freedom of the game in the most precious salvation its roots.

  • Mattesieves says:

    Coach Tom Creep MUST GO!!!! He is a frickin weirdo.

  • WaltD says:

    I’m not surprised young commits change their mind. What concerns me is how much these kids today feel they need to be pampered and courted to before they make a commitment.

  • John E Temple says:

    Regardless of motive, this decision by Blackmon puts IU behind the recruiting 8 Ball for the 2014 class. When top recruits are seen leaving a program, in this case Lyles & now Blackmon, it often snowballs. IU has not had a strong response from any of a bevy of players they have been recruiting for this class. This de-comitt will only make those who have the Hoosiers on their list more wary. We have already missed on the cream (pardon the pun) of the Indiana recruits and this won’t help those from beyond the borders take IU seriously. Those who bought into the “having 2 NBA lottery picks will make recruiting easier” are now wondering what happened. I would argue that losing Cody & Oladipo early had the opposite effect. Now the 4 & 5 star recruits are having doubts if Indiana is really the place to go if you want to win NCAA championships. If this year’s team isn’t very successful, that momentum in the wrong direction will only get worse for IU recruiting.

  • TJAUBURN says:

    The whole thing started at the Michigan game there. JBJ, sitting with most of his AAU teammates Irvin Indiana Mr. basketball Michigan commit, the Indiana kid from Park Tudor, former teammate of Yogi a Michigan /Butler lean, Dan Dakich’s kid a Michigan walk on The Hatch kid from Fort Wayne a Michigan commit. In addition Former coach at Indiana Jeff Meyer, who hates CTC’S guts and got in a heated nationally broadcast word fest with CTC no love there. CTC dropped the ball got real comfortable with being in the spotlight and the competition moved in and took the heart out the state one more time. It will not be long before Michigan will start 5 kids from Indiana and beat us. Coach Matta from Ohio State has been doing it to us for years. Michigan has been following Indiana recruiters around for years and they are relentless,look how many Indiana kids they have now ! There has always been the worry about Kentucky with Blackmon it would not surprise me if that happens. CTC is one of the worst X and O coaches since Mike Davis, especially in crunch time! Recruiting was supposed to be his strong suit but when you can’t put a wall around your own state and keep your good kids home you have a problem. Good players will make the worst coach look good. Coach Cal has been getting away with it for years even though every school he has coached has been put on probation. CTC needs to wake up and stick with the basics that brought Indiana back. RMK NEVER LET A GOOD INDIANA PLAYER GET AWAY! CTC deserves credit for bringing Indiana back without question but the biggest job is staying elite.Recruiting is very dirty and these kids are lied to and used on a daily basis. AND THEY ARE JUST KIDS! Quit recruiting and offering eight graders who have no clue what’s going on. Quit trying to be like the big boys on the national level and offer all the big names ,the chances of getting them are very remote. The Indiana kids have to be a number one and offer when they are a junior. It’s very tough to find replacements for two kids like Lyles and Blackmon! Purdue has more 2014 recruits than IU! And we get to watch Gary Harris tear up the big ten again this season along with the other Indiana kid who starts for MSU.I think it could be Michigan that’s in the middle of this! I don’t want to see him there! National recruits are great but your core has to be Indiana kids they get it!
    Thanks CODY! I know we can’t get them all but we have to get a couple every year. I knew something was up when we were offering every uncommitted guard in the country! They have known for awhile he was not going to sign, his AAU teammates have been working on him harder than our staff.

  • TJ says:

    I smell an orchestration of recruitment by DAD. Get Jr to committ early and that keeps the colleges off his kids back for 2-3 yrs. move from a small school to Marion for exposure;then decommitt and open the recruiting flood gates.High School version of Cam Newton ==” my son’s up for sale to the hughest bidder”

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