Scouting James Blackmon

Last year James Blackmon tore his ACL and missed the entire AAU circuit while recovering. Now the talented shooting guard is back on the floor and looks backs to normal.

Background: On February 5, 2012 James Blackmon tore his ACL. The Indiana commitment simply landed wrong and tore his knee up. Since then he has been working hard to get back to form, and Blackmon was ready for the start of his junior year. Since then Scout.com has seen him twice, and here is a breakdown on what Blackmon is doing on the floor this season.

On Offense: This is clearly where Blackmon excels. There is no greater skill to have in the game of basketball than to be able to make shots, and shot making is exactly what Blackmon brings to the table. He is one of the best pure shooters in the 2014 class, and just as importantly as the special ability he has to shoot, he has the mindset to be a cold blooded scorer.

Whether Blackmon misses five in a row or makes five in a row he feels like the next shot he takes is going in. On his high school team Blackmon is far and away the best option to score, so even when he has to take contested shots it is something that he feels he has to do and he is correct.

Blackmon at 6-foot-2 seems to have as much vertical athleticism as ever. He has exploded to the rim with dunks and rebounds the same as he did before the injury took place, so there is no change there.

While Blackmon is an above average athlete and has a decent handle when not being pressured. The biggest flaw in his game right now is his ability to beat a physical defender off the dribble. When facing Ft. Wayne Northrop and Purdue commitment Bryson Scott, Blackmon was able to get his numbers, but he did it mostly in transition or when not being defended by Scott.

When Scott was on Blackmon his physical defense gave Blackmon trouble because his handle isn't tight enough to get by a physical player and because he tends to get uncomfortable when being crowded on the perimeter. Still when given any time and space he is simply impressive because he has a quick release and great stroke.

One area where Blackmon has improved is his step back jumper. Last year it wasn't the weapon that it seems to be this year. Blackmon can hit his defender with a jab step, quickly retreat and that gives him enough space to get his shot off.

Now Blackmon has to continue to shore up his handle because he is limited to only being a shooting guard at the moment, and is slightly undersized for the position. If he can tighten up his handle and diversify his game some he could be one of the more dynamic offensive players in college basketball as an upperclassmen given his ability to make shots.

On Defense: While Blackmon is dynamic on the offensive end and can takeover games with his shot making, his defense is more of a work in progress. He is a good athlete vertically, but laterally he needs some work, and might not be all the way back in that respect from his injury.

Blackmon tends to lose some focus on the defensive end and instead of moving his feet in order to stay in front of an offensive player he will reach and play with his hands. That leads to some cheap fouls, and also allows straight line drives.

With that though, he does make some big plays because of his style. He will get his hands into the passing lane and make some deflections while also creating havoc full court when he picks up in that regard making plays and creating turnovers.

Still that stuff comes somewhat when facing guards who aren't division I caliber in terms of basketball talent. Overall he will have to improve quite a bit on defense, and physically he is capable of doing so. He is strong enough to stop drives and has enough size to guard either a shooting guard or a point guard fairly effectively when focused.

Likely he will never be known as a lockdown defender because his lateral quickness is only average, and his personality just isn't to defend with that kind of intensity, though once he is coached in college and there is more accountability he will likely be solid on the defensive end.

Overall Impression: The question always becomes with a kid coming off an injury did he drop in the rankings because of it, will he go up now that he is healthy, and stuff of that nature. The bottom line is players are all evaluated individually and ranked accordingly.

Currently Blackmon is leading the state of Indiana in scoring and is doing so with some impressive performances. Right now he is seen as the No. 18 shooting guard and a high three-star prospect.

When the rankings are updated and expanded from 75 to 100 there is a very good chance that Blackmon will be bumped up to a lower end four-star prospect and moved in to the rankings. His shot making is special, and there is no replacement in basketball for that ability. Still at times he can be defended with attention to detail, and also defensively there are some deficiencies.

Overall there is a lot to like with Blackmon and he should have a very solid career at Indiana where he scores lots of points and has some big games. There is still work to be done, but he looks no worse for wear from his ACL tear, and once again Blackmon has to be considered one of the top scoring guards in the class of 2014.


Scout Hoops Top Stories