Indiana Basketball – James Blackmon Jr. Decommits, Citing “what other schools have to offer” as Reason

by Kent Sterling

UnknownI’m equally mystified why it’s a big deal when a 17 year-old changes his mind and why a coach would offer a scholarship to a 14 year-old.

When I was a senior in high school and found myself more popular than I ever should have been, I asked girls out because it was fun to hear them say yes.  I had no idea whether the girl was a good person or someone I would enjoy spending time with, but the initial “Yes!” was kind of fun for a minute.

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Then the actual date came, we had nothing in common, and I couldn’t wait for the night to end.  That phase of my life lasted three weeks.

Indiana Basketball seems to enjoy hearing a kid say yes, so Tom Crean asks as soon as he believes a kid will blossom into a decent player.  The kids and their parents enjoy a coach at a program like Indiana asking, so they say yes.

High school intervenes, a kid changes, the parents become a little more savvy, and the happiness that came with the initial commitment evaporates for both sides.

There were dates I wanted to ask, “What the hell are we doing here?  We are obviously ill-suited for even a movie together.”  Clearly, either Crean decided that Blackmon was no longer a fit, or more likely given his comments, Blackmon has been presented with a better offer or environment for his services.

Blackmon told ESPN’s Dave Telep, “It took me a couple of days [to call],” Blackmon said. “[Crean] said that he wants to coach me. He told me to look around and that IU has to be my last official visit. He wants me at Indiana and he can get me to the next level, and I don’t doubt that. Nothing really happened, but since it’s such a big choice, I’m opening it up. I like IU. I told Coach Crean that I still want to be there, but I want to see what else is out there since I’ve been committed for so long.”

What he told Telep last is a little troubling, “It’s more that what other schools have to offer would have to really change my mind to take IU out of the picture.”

I’m not at all sure what the “what” is that Blackmon might be talking about.  Usually, players and families want to talk about who and where, rather than “what.”  It might have been a high school senior-to-be making a semantic mistake, but it’s a potentially important misstatement.

In the meantime, after having the class full less than three years ago with both Trey Lyles and Blackmon, IU is now 0-for-2, which might be a very good thing.

Crean is certainly prepared to fill a couple of spots after offering 18 seniors-to-be.  He has offers out to players like Dante Exum, Goodluck Okonobo, and Trevon Bluiett, and now two can accept.

The offers to pre-high schoolers is an intriguing strategy because I can’t find anyone who can explain the good it does.  Kids in the 2017 high school class have no inkling who is going to wind up in the class of 2016 or 2018, which means they don’t know behind whom they might be slotted.  The quality and position of the people in the class in front will have a lot to do with how much playing time he might expect as a freshman.

It’s possible that Blackmon took a look at Yogi Ferrell and Stan Robinson, and wondered where his minutes would come from.  It’s also possible that Blackmon will choose IU – as he is still interested in joining the program.

Any sweating by fans over the most recent decommitment is unwarranted.  Crean loves recruiting, and will find two players ready to join the Hoosiers next August.

9 thoughts on “Indiana Basketball – James Blackmon Jr. Decommits, Citing “what other schools have to offer” as Reason

  1. Philboyd Studge

    Well, you got one thing right. Crean is 0-2 for 2014. Saying that is a good thing is like saying that being fired from your job for incompetency is a good thing because it frees you up to be an astronaut or the pope.

    Calipari will X Crean out of Exum, in the unlikely event Dante plays college ball. His hero is Derek Rose. You can see how this movie ends.

    Crean’ll have no luck with Goodluck and blow it with Blueitt. Let’s face it, the word is getting out to the best players that Clappy the Clown is an unstable loser. He’s just a weird guy with a weird vibe that kids and their parents can feel. Parents are Youtubing things like that clip of him looking like a deranged simian in the confrontation with his assistant coach. And they are saying if he has no more self-control than that on national television, will he pull a Bobby Knight and choke my kid like Neil Reed when no one is looking?

    They can also Google his record, and reach an immutable truth: Crean’s ceiling, unless D. Wade happens to regain some eligibility, is the Sweet 16. Even with a senior-rich team and two NBA lottery picks, the Hoosiers played like dogs when it mattered — getting outclassed by Wisconsin in the conference tournament, then barely surviving a 9-seeded Temple team that had nobody special, before being crushed by Syracuse. That’ll likely be his best team ever at IU, and it embarrassed itself when it counted.

    His floor — well he already has three 20 loss seasons at Indiana, which is about 500 year’s worth at a truly elite program. He might hover around the 8-10 seed in the tourney range, occasionally have a team that has a decent regular season only to gag when it counts. And that’s it. A legacy of mediocrity to keep intact Indiana’s quarter century of irrelevancy.

    1. Jason B

      Who is this clown? Someone has a personal problem that either needs professional help or charges pressed on whoever butt raped you in your early years. What a joke. And PLEASE tell me your name is an attempt at being funny and clever and not a family thing.

      1. Dirk

        I tend to agree with Philboyd, as do many folks. We’ll soon find out just how good Crean is as a coach and a recruiter.

        You have to wonder why he wasn’t at the NBA draft with Oladipo and Zeller, celebrating their success with them. I’ve heard the argument about working the phone. That’s a great cover when the real story may have been that he wasn’t invited. Certainly getting shunned on national TV by your two star recruits wouldn’t help pull in any new recruits. Best to stay away and “work the phones.”

        1. Jason B

          Research how many colleges coachs go to the NBA draft and let me know what u find. If u cant find it let me know. Come on Dirk, LAME points. I’m sure your a blast to work with. An “always somethin” guy.

  2. Jeff Gregory

    I think the NCAA needs to step in and reform the recruiting process. This early recruiting-commitment/de-commitment stuff makes college basketball look bad. The coaches look like player-pedophiles and the players look like prima-donnas with no character. There really just isn’t anything good about it. I would like to see a no direct contact, offers, or commitments until the junior year of high school. It would be impossible to enforce, but at least it wouldn’t be out in the open where it smells so bad.

    1. kentsterling Post author

      I agree, but I’m am tired of the NCAA instituting rules that cannot be enforced. It weakens the entire rule book.

      1. Jeff Gregory

        I understand. However, even if the rules can’t be strictly enforced, it would prevent all the public hubub and THAT would a big improvement on the status quo. The rulebook is PRETTY weak anyway. Worrying about it being further weakened is akin to worrying about the dusty furniture when faced with with a collapsed roof.

        1. kentsterling Post author

          Enacting rules that can’t be enforced is how the rule book became thick and useless. I agree that early offers and commitments defy any obvious logic, but parents should put a stop to it by telling coaches their kids are going to be kids for just a little longer.

          1. Jeff Gregory

            >>Enacting rules that can’t be enforced is how the rule book became thick and useless.<<

            True, but that ship has already sailed. Might as well make the best of what you got at this point.

            I agree that the parents should protect their kids, but that is the same line that people use for improving school performance and protect the kids from destructive elements on TV and society. It isn't happening and it never will to an adequate level. I understand that the NCAA really doesn't care about the kids, either, but they probably care about the integrity of their product.

            I have been thinking about it more and I actually think it is more enforceable than I originally thought. The reason? Kids can't keep their mouths shut – especially in the area of braggadocio. With competition of the prime recruits, someone is going to spill the beans to the NCAA. If I was a coach, I wouldn't take the risk. I think just the fact that the regulation is in the books would stop 75% of this nonsense – which is in line with most of the other recruiting enforcement (if not better).

            Again, if they do NOTHING, then nothing changes which to me is unacceptable. That is just my opinion. Good discussion!

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