When James Blackmon Jr. scheduled his college announcement for halftime of Thursday’s Louisiana Monroe-Troy football game on ESPNU, he figured he would be using that to commit to Kentucky. He had narrowed his choices to the Wildcats— his father’s school and a recruiting superpower under coach John Calipari — and Indiana, the school he had committed to as a high school freshman but de-committed from in August. However, there was a point when he was considering not even taking a planned visit to Indiana last weekend.
By the time he arrived at Midwest Uplink in Indianapolis, where the announcement was shot, he wasn’t totally certain which school he was going to choose. About half an hour before he made his decision, his mind shifted and he decided to go back to the team that first recruited and stuck with him even after he left his commitment, verbally committing to Indiana again.
“I was actually really sure that (Kentucky) was where I was going to go,” Blackmon said. “But at that last minute, I went with my gut feeling and that was to go to IU. … I just felt like IU was home.”
Blackmon said it meant a lot to him that IU coach Tom Crean continued to make him a top priority even after his de-commitment. Crean hadn’t done the same for Arsenal Tech forward Trey Lyles, Blackmon’s AAU teammate with Spiece Indy Heat.
“The relationship got even better after I de-committed,” Blackmon said. “We just kept building a relationship. He told me I was a main priority and that I’d be the main guy coming and stuff like that and just how much I could help the program.”
Blackmon said he told Crean earlier in the day that he was about 50-50 on his decision, and that he told him just before the announcement that he was going to IU.
“I didn’t think he really thought I was coming,” Blackmon said. “He just called me after and told me how excited he was.”
Blackmon said Calipari told him he was disappointed that he wasn’t coming to Lexington, but that playing for Crean would serve him well.
“He told me that he really wanted me and that he would be a little down, but he told me that I made a good decision for myself,” Blackmon said. “He told me coach Crean would do a good job coaching me.”
There was some speculation that when Devin Booker, a guard from Mississippi and the No. 30 player in the nation, announced his commitment to Kentucky earlier Thursday afternoon that it might have influenced Blackmon to look elsewhere. Blackmon said it actually had the opposite effect.
“That’s one of the reasons I was going to go to UK,” Blackmon said. “He’s more of a 2-3 and I’m more of a 1-2. I think we would have been good together. … I knew he was going to go there months ago. Part of our thing is if he went, I was going to go. I guess I just didn’t follow through with it.”
Though Virginia guard Robert Johnson, the nation’s No. 42 player and Indiana’s other backcourt commitment in the 2014 class, is also more of a 1-2, Blackmon said he believes he and Johnson will be a good fit together as well.
“I think that we could play together in one backcourt,” Blackmon said. “He can really shoot and he can really handle the ball too. That’s a plus. Any good guard is a plus. I’ve heard a lot about his game.”