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'Crazy month' has James Blackmon in NBA Draft final stretch

Former IU guard James Blackmon goes up for a basket against Wisconsin and Vitto Brown during a Big Ten tourney game in Washington DC last March. (File photo by the Associated Press)
Former IU guard James Blackmon goes up for a basket against Wisconsin and Vitto Brown during a Big Ten tourney game in Washington DC last March. (File photo by the Associated Press)

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ONLINE: For more on sports, follow Pete DiPrimio via Twitter at www.twitter.com/pdiprimio

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press

Ex-Hoosier works to impress NBA teams

Thursday, June 15, 2017 04:30 pm

James Blackmon is on the move. He works out for NBA teams. He works out on his own. The former Indiana and Bishop Luers standout sells himself and his potential for an opportunity of a lifetime.

He’s with the Washington Wizards. Wait. He’s at the Sacramento Kings. Wait. Now it’s Orlando. Wait. Here comes Houston.

“June is a crazy month,” he told reporters after the recent Washington workout. “I’m ready.”

With draft day looming next Thursday, Blackmon certainly looks ready. He is 6-4 with a long wingspan and an ability to block out all the negativity, of which there is plenty, but that misses the point, which is that Blackmon is building toward a professional future. It’s why he skipped his final college season.

The feedback he’s gotten from NBA teams doesn’t refute that hope.

“They told me to keep being the guy I am. They were surprised I can also play point guard. I’ve gotten good feedback about that from a lot of teams. I’m trying to show that going forward.”

There’s a video of Blackmon hitting 17 straight NBA three-pointers. Just because it comes from his own workout and not one put on by a NBA team doesn’t diminish the significance.

The guy can shoot. IU coach Archie Miller, who had Blackmon for a month or so in spring workouts, said he’s the best shooter he’s ever worked with.

This is why Blackmon has a chance, not to get drafted, but to some day make a NBA team. Every team, at every level, needs good shooters. There are key times in key games when you have to make a shot, especially from the perimeter.

“The way the league is now,” Blackmon said, “the league needs shooters.”

The league also needs defensive stoppers and history suggests that’s not Blackmon. He isn’t exceptionally quick or athletic, but the biggest problem that surfaced during his three Indiana seasons was inconsistent effort and focus.

Blackmon has tried to use team workouts to prove that problem is solved.

“I’m trying to show that with my defensive ability, with my wingspan, I can guard different positions. Also showing that I can play multiple positions. I can be a ballhandler, as well. I didn’t show it that much in college because I played the 2 (shooting guard) a lot.

“They told me to keep working on interchangeable positions.”

NBA Draft experts are not kind to Blackmon. They see zero chance he will get drafted. It’s not even close.

NBADraft.net and Sports Illustrated don’t list Blackmon in their draft ratings. Draft Express has Blackmon at No. 83. ESPN has him at No. 90.

Sixty players will be drafted over two rounds.

In other words, Blackmon will likely sign with a team as a free agent and play in the NBA’s summer league. If he’s impressive enough, he’ll be invited to a fall camp. If he does well enough there, he’ll make a team’s roster.

Former Hoosiers Troy Williams and Yogi Ferrell did that last year, although Ferrell had to play in the NBA’s D-League for a while before signing with Dallas. Williams is with Houston.

If that doesn’t work out, Blackmon will either play in the D-League or play overseas. He’ll make more money overseas, but his chances of getting to the NBA are more limited.

Former IU teammates OG Anunoby and Thomas Bryant also gave up college eligibility to enter the draft.

Anunoby has the best chance at getting drafted. ESPN, Draft Express and Sports Illustrated have him going in the top 14. NBADraft.net lists him at No. 39, which would be the second round.

The 6-8 Anunoby is recovering from last season’s knee surgery. At IU he showed potential as a defensive stopper as well as a versatile scorer.

As for the 6-11 Bryant, he projects as a late second-round pick. He’ll likely have worked out with 10 teams by next week.

He told reporters after a recent workout in Portland he’s enjoying the process.

“It can get tiring, but you’ve got to love it. I wouldn’t trade this for anything. It’s a dream.”

Bryant said he’s trying to show teams his offensive and defensive versatility.

“I feel I can bring a lot to an NBA team.”

Former Homestead and Purdue standout Caleb Swanigan, who passed on his final two college seasons to stay in the draft, also was at the Portland workout with Bryant.

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ONLINE: For more on sports, follow Pete DiPrimio via Twitter at www.twitter.com/pdiprimio

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