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Blackmon will return for sophomore season #iubb

James Blackmon Jr. isn’t going anywhere.

Blackmon told reporters Thursday afternoon that he will return to Indiana for his sophomore season, giving the Hoosiers continuity with their perimeter attack.

The 6-foot-3 guard’s announcement is the latest domino to fall in IU’s ongoing roster construction drama. Now the Hoosiers wait on a decision from Yogi Ferrell, who will announce his plans for next year on Saturday night in Indianapolis.

With Indiana officially clearing Thomas Bryant’s signing on Wednesday, Tom Crean remains oversigned by one scholarship next season.

Blackmon earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors and was a member of the league’s All-Freshman team, while finishing sixth nationally among freshmen 16.7 points per game. He set an Indiana record with 77 3-pointers averaged 5.3 rebounds per contest and scored 20 points or more on 10 occasions.

“I love it at Indiana,” Blackmon said. “This is a place where I can get better every day. In the long run, I’ll be better for it.”

But there are too many visible holes in Blackmon’s game that must be addressed before a move to the next level should be considered. He was the biggest defensive liability among Indiana’s regular starters, he went radio silent on the offensive side of the floor during key games down the stretch and he could work on going stronger to the basket with more consistency.

If Ferrell doesn’t return, Robert Johnson is expected to handle the point guard duties, but Blackmon could also share in that role.

ESPN Draft expert Chad Ford told The Herald-Times last month that aside from the obvious improvements Blackmon must make to become a serious NBA prospect, the Ft. Wayne native could boost his stock by proving he can run and initiate an offense.

“You have to be able to show that you can defend your position and you’re capable enough to run an offense because he can really shoot the basketball,” Ford told the H-T. “I think he might go in the second round if he were to come into the draft this year just because someone would take a flier on him with his high basketball IQ and his shooting. He’s definitely a guy that I think would definitely help his stock if he could get in a role where he gets to handle the ball more and help initiate an offense.”

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Video: Crean on Bryant, NBA decisions and more

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Crean mum on Blackmon, expects announcement soon #iubb

Yogi Ferrell isn’t the only Hoosier who could make an announcement in the next week.

Indiana coach Tom Crean said Wednesday that James Blackmon Jr. will soon reveal whether he will return for his sophomore season at IU or if he will seek an opportunity to turn professional.

Crean, speaking to IU reporters for the first time since the NCAA Tournament, indicated a decision may have been made with regard to Blackmon’s future, but said it will be announced at a different date.

“We’re well down the road on where we stand on that,” Crean said. “It will be forthcoming pretty soon on that, but we’ve handled everything and they’ve been great in the sense of having it all laid out where it needs to be, but I don’t want to get into the specifics of the decision making right now on either one of (Blackmon and Ferrell) today. There will be a time for that. As far as giving some generalities, I don’t mind giving you that.”

The deadline for early entry to the NBA Draft is Sunday at 11:59 p.m., meaning Blackmon’s announcement should come within the next few days. Ferrell is scheduled to announce his plans for next season during a dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Indianapolis on Saturday night.

Blackmon has been working at IU’s Cook Hall practice facility since the end of the postseason, as have Ferrell and others, including transfers Stan Robinson and Max Hoetzel. But whether or not he’ll be in Bloomington beyond this spring remains unclear.

ESPN Draft expert Chad Ford considers Blackmon the No. 61 ranked prospect in this year’s class and, outside of his pure shooting ability, there are more questions about his game than there are truths. The Ft. Wayne native was the biggest defensive liability among IU’s regular starters and even his shooting became spotty during the Hoosiers’ stretch run.

At 6-foot-3, his position at the NBA level also becomes questionable unless he proves willing and able to do more than shoot.

“Outside of the elite prospects in the draft, if they’re drafting in the end of the first round, second round, and they’re gonna bring the player onto their roster, they’d probably rather have a guy who can help them a little bit and Blackmon, being 19 years old, is pretty far from that,” Jonathan Givony of Draft Express told The Herald-Times in March. “Out of (Troy Williams, Ferrell and Blackmon), I’d be most surprised if Blackmon declared.”

For his part, Crean said he told Williams, Ferrell and Blackmon to consider the research and not opinions from prognosticators and NBA pundits. Most mock drafts have Ferrell and Blackmon slotted as second round picks at best, if they’re drafted at all.

Williams announced two weeks ago that he will return for his junior season.

“If somebody leaves, you congratulate them, you help them every way you can and you better have Plan B and Plan C ready to go because everybody right now is looking at the same thing,” Crean said.

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Indiana makes Bryant signing official #iubb

Once the ink on the documents dried and Indiana could clear Thomas Bryant’s National Letter of Intent, Tom Crean needed only one word to desribe his latest signing: transformative.

That’s because Crean knows he finally has the kind of rim protector that will allow his team to bring more consistent pressure on defense. He has a willing and athletic offensive big man who runs the court better than any Hoosier since Cody Zeller.

And he has the missing piece that could very likely propel the Hoosiers into Big Ten title contenders.

“We need the presence of an inside player, that’s obvious,” Crean said. “But he’s so much more than that, and I think that’s what has been exciting since we started recruiting him, and then really picking it up like we did in the fall, and continuing to recruit him throughout the year. There’s some tremendous qualities about him.”

The 6-foot-10 center from Rochester, N.Y. is ranked the No. 27 player in the 2015 class by 247 Sports, while Scout slots him at No. 33. In his senior season at Huntington Prep (W.Va.), Bryant averaged 17.3 points, 11.6 rebounds and 4.5 blocks per game, while earning invites to the McDonald’s All-American Game and the Jordan Brand Classic.

Bryant’s signing officially marks the fifth consecutive year that IU has signed a McDonald’s All-American.

He joins Missouri forwards O.G. Anunoby and Juwan Morgan in Indiana’s 2015 class. The Hoosiers are currently oversigned by one, but are waiting on future announcements from James Blackmon Jr. and Yogi Ferrell.

Crean said Wednesday that Blackmon’s future at IU will be revealed in the next few days, while Ferrell will announce his intentions to either remain at Indiana or go pro on Saturday night in Indianapolis.

“This class could continue to grow,” Crean said.

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Inaugural Gavitt Tipoff schedule released #iubb

At least one part of Indiana’s non-conference has been cemented.

IU will host Creighton on Thursday, Nov. 19 at Assembly Hall in the first installment of the Gavitt Tipoff Games, which pit eight Big Ten teams against programs from the Big East. For the Hoosiers and Blue Jays, it will be the first meeting between the two programs since the 1974-75 season.

The contest will be broadcast on either Big Ten Network or ESPN. The Gavitt Tipoff Games is named in honor of Dave Gavitt, the original commissioner of the Big East. The series is scheduled through 2022 and will be played on four consecutive days in the first full week of the season. Each Big East team will particpate a minimum of six times, while Big Ten programs will take part a minimum of four times.

Indiana is also expected to be on the road for its annual matchup in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Here’s the full schedule of Gavitt games:

Tuesday, Nov. 17
Georgetown at Maryland: First meeting since 2008-09 season
DePaul at Penn State: First meeting since 1984-85 season
Nebraska at Villanova: First meeting since 1998-99 season

Wednesday, Nov. 18
Illinois at Providence: First meeting since 2003-04 season

Thursday, Nov. 19
Creighton at Indiana: First meeting since 1974-75 season
Iowa at Marquette: First meeting since 1982-83 season
Rutgers at St. John’s: First meeting since 2012-13 season

Friday, Nov. 20
Xavier at Michigan: First meeting since 1988-89 season

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3-star QB Peyton Ramsey is IU’s first 2016 commit

Indiana has landed its first commit for the 2016 class.

Cincinnati quarterback Peyton Ramsey tweeted late Tuesday night that he has committed to Indiana. The three-star prospect chose the Hoosiers over Illinois, Boston College, Wake Forest, Cincinnati, Ohio and others.

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, the 6-foot-3 Ramsey threw for 2,062 yards and 13 touchdowns last fall, while running for 908 yards and 12 scores at Elder High School. He earned Cincinnati’s Greater Catholic League’s co-Player of the Year award and was a Special Mention selection on the Associated Press’ 2014 Ohio All-State team.

Ramsey is a three-star prospect in the 247 Sports Composite, while Rivals has him as a two-star recruit.

With Nate Sudfeld set to graduate after this season, Ramsey will potentially be in the mix with current IU quarterbacks Zander Diamont and Danny Cameron, and 2015 incoming freshman Austin King.

IU coach Kevin Wilson, as he usually does following a commitment, tweeted his customary message to confirm the news.

“#iufb Wrapping Up A Gr8 Spring,” he tweeted. “#Recruiting is Here #HoosierNation – That’s Right #BOOM #513 – Continuing to Build a Strong B1G East Team!!”

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IU and Notre Dame meet at Victory Field

FINAL: INDIANA 6, NOTRE DAME 5. Hoosiers win it on Notre Dame’s fifth error of the game. Logan Sowers loaded the bases with a walk before Will Nolden drove in pinch runner Chris Sujka on a fielder’s choice. On the same play, an errant throw to first allowed Scott Donley to score from second base. Nolden sealed the walk-off win when he came home on a throwing error to first by Irish shortstop Lane Richards.

EIGHTH INNING: Notre Dame adds to its lead against Harrison, using a solo home run to right field by Robert Youngdahl to go up 5-3. This is the third time in the last five games that IU pitchers have given up two home runs in a contest. Indiana, which hasn’t had a hit since Rodrigue’s sixth-inning double, went down in order. NOTRE DAME 5, INDIANA 3.

SEVENTH INNING: Luke Harrison relieved Effross and allowed a leadoff single before a called strikeout and a 4-6-3 double play turned by Colby Stratten ended the inning. In the bottom half, Austin Cangelosi reached on a one-out error but couldn’t get home after back-to-back groundouts from Will Nolden and Isaiah Pasteur. NOTRE DAME 4, INDIANA 3.

SIXTH INNING: Notre Dame leadoff man Ryan Bull lined a first-pitch fastball from Effross over the right field wall to boost the Irish lead to 4-2. But the Hoosiers got that run back in the bottom half. Casey Rodrigue poked a leadoff double into the right field corner and came around to score two batters later on Brad Hartong’s groundout to shortstop. NOTRE DAME 4, INDIANA 3.

FIFTH INNING: Bell retired 12 in a row before Kyle Fiala smacked a two-out triple to the left field gap. That led IU coach Chris Lemonis to go to the bullpen for right-hander Scott Effross, who struck out Cavan Biggio on a full-count changeup to end the inning. Tully retired IU in order in the bottom of the fifth. NOTRE DAME 3, INDIANA 2. (more…)

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