Blackmon will declare for NBA Draft, won’t hire agent #iubb

James Blackmon Jr. celebrated his 21st birthday Monday with a significant announcement.

The Indiana junior guard is declaring for the NBA Draft, but will not hire an agent. This decision allows him to receive direct feedback from league power brokers regarding his professional future, while leaving open his option to return to IU next fall.

On the surface, it’s a surprising move for a player that missed the final 22 games of his sophomore season with a torn ACL in his right knee. But the root of his decision has considerable merit.

New NCAA rules allow players who declare for this year’s NBA Draft to attend the league’s combine in Chicago May 10-15 on an invitation basis. Players are also permitted to work out for one team. Those who do not hire an agent and maintain their amateurism then have until May 25 to decide whether to remain in the draft pool or stay in school.

Blackmon told reporters during last month’s NCAA Tournament that he felt ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation process and expected to return to the court in time for IU’s summer workouts. Even if he’s unable to work out for teams, this process can be valuable for a player with professional upside.

“James is going to test the waters and see where he stands in the eyes of the NBA at this time,” IU coach Tom Crean said in a statement. “He is going to go through the process with both eyes open with the goal of receiving the most complete and current evaluation possible.”

Blackmon also considered making the jump to the NBA after his freshman season in 2015, before ultimately opting to return to school. This time, however, the draft process will provide him with more direct evaluations.

By declaring for the draft, Blackmon will be allowed face-to-face interaction with NBA scouts and team personnel that he may not have received otherwise. Should he return to school for his junior year, that feedback will allow him to fine tune his game at IU. Last year — before the implementation of the NCAA’s new draft rules, the feedback he gained came second-hand.

Blackmon’s sophomore season was derailed by his right knee injury in late December. He averaged 15.8 points and shot 46 percent from 3-point range across the first 13 games, scoring in double figures in 11 of those contests. But questions about his defense persisted through the first half of the season, and those concerns will likely linger as he moves forward with NBA evaluations.

Blackmon is the fourth Hoosier to ponder NBA possibilities this spring. Forward Troy Williams also declared for the draft this month, but has so far declined to hire an agent. Meanwhile, sophomores Thomas Bryant and OG Anunoby announced recently that they would not pursue the draft — and the feedback that comes with it — this spring.

8 comments

  1. Am I missing something? I thought he said right after the season that he was definitely coming back?

  2. You can test the draft waters at the combine and return to school if you don’t hire an agent. If he’s healthy it would be dumb not to do this. I have a feeling this new rule will become increasingly annoying.

  3. While, I’m sure, it would be unusual for a school to not welcome back a player talented enough to test the NBA waters with open arms, I think it should be a two way street. Should a player opt for the NBA draft with the provision that they could return to their school should it not work out then the school should have the opportunity to use their scholarship on another player to fill the void that may, or may not, be created by the player’s potential departure should they so choose.

    In the real world choices have consequences. Perhaps that should apply to the world of college basketball as well.

  4. I don’t necessarily disagree with Chet. I’m all for creating more advantages for college athletes, but this puts coaches and their programs in a real pickle. How can you know how to progress when you don’t know until May 25 if a player is returning or not? IU just signed McSwain, so that puts it right at 13 scholarships. What if Williams plays terribly at combines/workouts and every scout tells him it would be a huge mistake to stay in the draft. So he says he wants to return to IU — only there’s no scholarship available? Or if Williams played great and got good feedback? But in the meantime, Crean had told McSwain he couldn’t take him because he was waiting on Troy’s decision. Then, he’s down a player. I’m guessing if a player’s gonna “test the waters,” you just have to tell him that’s fine, but if you decide you’re not ready, your scholarship might not still be here.

  5. I see no downside to anyone in James decision! It will all become clear by 5/25/16. Then, if ever, the “troubles” (as we Irish call them) will have to be dealt with! I expect both Troy and James to return to IU. Until then I am “gone fish’n”!

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