The long, crazy road is finally over. (Well, it will be on Nov. 13 for Signing Day.)
James Blackmon Jr., after decommitting from Indiana in August, will indeed be a Hoosier. The 2014 shooting guard from Marion, Ind. committed to Tom Crean and Indiana for the second time on Thursday night, choosing the Hoosiers over Kentucky, Michigan and Michigan State.
That decision seemed unlikely just 24 hours before Blackmon Jr. announced it in front of a national television audience on ESPNU. So, before we look toward the future, lets first revisit where we've been.
Blackmon Jr. first committed to IU back in 2010 before the program had been restored by Crean and Co. He remained firmly committed to the Hoosiers for nearly three full years -- through bad and good seasons alike -- before reopening his recruitment in August.
It seemed like a decision that would be devastating to Indiana at the time. Crean and his staff had stuck by Blackmon Jr. through his serious knee injury during his sophomore basketball season and did nothing but support him during that time.
Plus, Blackmon Jr. pulled his commitment at the worst possible time. The July evaluation period had just ended, leaving Indiana with virtually no time to get in on any other high-level recruits it would have gone after otherwise.
Crean, though, never gave up on Blackmon Jr., and he deserves a lot of credit for that. The IU coach had developed such a strong bond with James and his family that he never wavered in his pursuit of the sixth-ranked shooting guard. Crean never gave up.
Blackmon Jr. said at the time that he just wanted to explore his options, that Indiana was still a very real possibility, and that the Hoosiers would get his final visit. Many were skeptical, but in the end, Blackmon Jr. was true to his word. Blackmon Jr. visited Bloomington last weekend.
Ever since his decommitment, though, Kentucky seemed like the most likely destination for the 6-foot-3 Blackmon Jr. His father, James Blackmon Sr., played for the Wildcats, and Blackmon Jr. took an official visit to Lexington for Big Blue Madness, Kentucky's version of Hoosier Hysteria.
Ultimately, Blackmon Jr. felt Indiana was the best place for him. And after everything that has been said about the kid over the course of the last three months, he deserves a great deal of credit for remaining level-headed, exploring all of his options like a mature adult, and making the decision he felt was best for him.
Now, a look forward. This is a big get for the Hoosiers. With Blackmon Jr. and Virginia guard Robert Johnson committed in the 2014 class, Indiana has assembled one of the top backcourts in the nation. Both Blackmon Jr. and Johnson can play the point and the two, and both are very good shooters from the perimeter. There's no doubt Blackmon Jr. and Johnson can play on the floor at the same time.
Add in 6-foot-7 forward Max Hoetzel, who gave a verbal pledge last weekend, and Indiana could very well have the best class of shooters in the country. Given the fact that perimeter shooting is one of the big question marks for this year's team, that's a very good thing.
Scout.com ranks Blackmon Jr. as the top shooter in the 2014 class. He has the ability to create his own shot, is very good off screens, and can really knock down the 3-point shot. Give him time to learn and develop under Crean, and there's no reason to believe he won't be an All-Big Ten performer eventually.
Props to Crean for never giving up on a kid most assumed was on his way to Lexington. This is more than significant news for the IU basketball program.
EVAN DANIELS' TAKE: "This was huge for Tom Crean and Indiana. At one point it looked like he was going to miss on most of the highly touted locals. But he closed this one and Blackmon has a chance to be a special player at Indiana.
"Blackmon is arguably the top shooter in the country. His range his deep, he's a capable shot maker off the bounce and he has a pretty quick trigger. Blackmon averaged 47.5-percent from three in the Nike EYBL. That's impressive. That's against the best competition in high school basketball."