James Blackmon Jr. discusses injury rehab, NBA Draft process #iubb

James Blackmon Jr. gave an update on his off-season during a Tuesday appearance on WBAT 1400 AM in his hometown of Marion.

Blackmon, who late last month declared for the NBA Draft, told Steve Moritz of Moritz Sports that he estimates his rehabilitation of a torn ACL in his right knee is 75 percent complete. Although he’s unable to work out for teams in a full-court setting, Blackmon said he’s met directly with representatives of two NBA franchises in recent weeks to gauge his pro potential.

Blackmon, who averaged 15.8 points per contest across the 13 games he played as a sophomore last season, said that while it’s possible he turns pro, he’s also looking at the opportunity to take on a bigger role with the Hoosiers in the fall.

“My junior year at Indiana, I’m going to be a leader,” Blackmon said. “I’m going to be someone who can lead a great team — probably a top-10 team next year. That’s pretty hard to pass up.”

You can find a full transcript of Blackmon’s interview with WBAT 1400 AM after the jump.

Editor’s Note: Moderator questions have been paraphrased for brevity.

How is your recovery from surgery progressing?

James Blackmon Jr.: “I’m about four months post-op. I’ve been working with my IU trainers there all throughout school. It’s been really good. Then I came back home. I have people I work with here. It’s started off really well here. Started (Monday). I’m just ready to keep working and get back down there.”

How devastating was it to suffer a season-ending injury?

JB: “It was a huge low point for me, probably the hardest injury I’ve ever had to overcome. But I’m getting through it and everything looks up from here, so I’m just staying positive with it all.”

Was it a freak injury?

JB: “I wouldn’t say that. It was like we were playing 1-on-1 drills in practice and I kind of got nudged a little and thrown off-balance. Then my shoe caught traction, so that’s how it really happened, really.”

Were you pleased with progress you made up to the point of the injury?

JB: “I was very pleased, because coming in to the year I had high expectations and I feel like I was fulfilling them. I felt like I was playing more consistent and shooting the ball a lot better and doing other things as well more consistently my sophomore year than my freshman year. I was very happy with how I was playing before the injury.”

Did you anticipate your early success coming out of high school?

JB: “To me, I really did because of the way I worked, the way I was brought up. Playing at Mario prepared me really well so I really did think that I could do that, but I don’t think a lot of others did. I guess you could say I caught a lot of people by surprise.”

Did you feel like you had a better grasp of things going into sophomore season?

JB: “We started off rough, but in the middle of the season we beat Notre Dame in a comeback game. That’s where I think the season definitely changed. It was tough not being able to help my team against North Carolina in the Sweet 16, because I feel like I could have done a lot. It’s just something I have to take advantage of motivation-wise and come back wherever I am next year and take control of that.”

When you came out of surgery, what kind of prognosis did you receive?

JB: “The doctors told me six months would be coming back fast. I’m at four months and I’ve been working so hard at the rehab and doing a lot extra. I’m at four months and I feel really good, but I’m not going to rush anything back and try to come back too fast.”

Where are you right now in the rehab process?

JB: “I’m probably at 75 percent.”

Are you to the point where you have to take it somewhat easy and not overwork it?

JB: “I can do everything except for getting out there and playing five on five. That’s really it.”

Do you think that will come later this summer?

JB: “I feel like in July is when everything will be 110 percent.”

Have you made a decision on where you’ll play next season?

JB: “Really, the opportunity (to declare for the NBA Draft) hit me when coach Crean talked to me about my options. He said I could put my name out there in the draft and get a lot of feedback and test the waters. That’s what I wanted to do. It went really well so far. I’ve been able to talk to teams and see what they think. I’ve met with two teams so far. The feedback I’ve been getting has been great. I don’t know where that will take me yet.”

You wouldn’t be able to participate in the NBA Combine, correct?

JB: “Yeah, you’re 100 percent right on that. I’m not cleared to play in five-on-five and that’s really what the Combine is there in Chicago on Wednesday. That’s something I can’t go to, but I’ve been able to meet with teams individually because I can’t actually play yet and do workouts and do meetings with them and shooting around. I’m just talking to teams.”

Are you saying if you get the right feedback from teams, you could possibly hire an agent and turn pro?

JB: “It’s a possibility, always. I think it would be for anyone. At the same time, my junior year at Indiana, I’m going to be a leader. I’m going to be someone who can lead a great team – probably a top-10 team next year. That’s pretty hard to pass up.”

It’s almost like a win-win situation for you, isn’t it?

JB: “Yeah, that’s what coach Crean put out there for me. He knew that without the injury this year, it probably would’ve been a no-brainer (to turn pro). That’s what he talked to me about. He said the option is still there.”

So you’re not transferring from Indiana if the NBA doesn’t work out?

JB: “Yeah, definitely. I never said that I would transfer anywhere else. That’s definitely my plan.”

What is your relationship with Tom Crean? Sometimes people say you two are not on the same page. Is that not true?

JB: “Yeah, that’s really not true. We talk almost every day. He motivates me, he pushes me and he knows that I’m one of the hardest workers ever. I’d say our relationship is really great.”

So you believe if you do return to Indiana, that this could be a great year for the team?

JB: “The potential is there, most definitely. It just comes down to how things are executed and what our leaders do.”

If you do return to IU, and you and the team have a great year, would you speculate that you would go back to test the NBA waters after your junior year?

JB: “I’m not sure. Once I decide to go back I’ll be all in to that season, just like I was last year. I wasn’t thinking about the NBA or anything like that until after the season. That’s just something we’ll have to see.”

3 comments

  1. You really have to give CTC credit for instilling confidence in his charges. If a guy hits both ends of a one and one you’d better expect him to declare for the NBA if only to ‘test the waters.’

    It’s hard to argue with the strategy. The topic has been beaten to death lately but it certainly lets a player know where he stands with the guys in the League.

    The pre-draft workouts have a disproportionate number of Hoosiers, which is noticed.

    Guys who have been through the process probably seem a little more polished.

    While some of the guys have no business being there at all it borders on summer camp for anyone who has started for more than three games for the Hoosiers. Then they have a little more name recognition.

    No, I think ‘ol Tom is ahead of the curve on some of this stuff. He certainly uses the ‘pre-draft workout without retaining an agent’ to his advantage.

    If I were a parent of a child with NBA aspirations I would definitely see this as a positive tradition he’s establishing. I think Tommy C. is a product of his times.

    So are pre-draft workouts.

  2. Tommy C. is a product of his times.

    ..about as much a “product of the times” as Donald Trump. Crean inherited the wealth of Indiana’s great basketball…He puts his name on everything but true success. And like Trump’s “winning” fiscal policy for the U.S., our solution for no banners under Crean is to simply print more money for him. Everything is marketed as a road to glory. We buy into these blowbags because they know how to sell the mirage without the substance. It’s a way to protect are fragile egos, pretend we’ve cleared the higher bars of achievement, while falling severely short of a forgone day that didn’t need all the cheap talk and slathering ourselves to win small battles in building a great nation/basketball program. Yup, bullsh__ is “a product of the times.” A business giant who is disclosing tax returns that prove true profitability is as rare a “Because it’s Indiana” coach who can take high level talent and prove such returns in the form of Final Fours.

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