EXCLUSIVE: Blackmon Jr. opens up on decision

2014 G James Blackmon Jr. committed to the Hoosiers on Thursday. Here what he had to say about it in this exclusive interview with AllHoosiers.com.

James Blackmon Jr. couldn't decide what he wanted to do. He had set up an announcement time on ESPNU, but as Thursday approached, the 2014 guard still didn't know which school he would choose.

Blackmon Jr. had narrowed it to just Indiana and Kentucky, but as he sat on camera in Indianapolis preparing to announce his decision to the nation, he didn't know who he'd choose.

"It was actually way closer than people think," Blackmon Jr. said in an exclusive interview with AllHoosiers.com. "It was maybe even 20 minutes before I went on when I decided, maybe even 15 minutes. … It was really the hardest decision of my life."

So Blackmon Jr. called Indiana coach Tom Crean and Kentucky coach John Calipari prior to his announcement to let them know it was down to just their two schools. He told them he still didn't know what his final choice would be.

When it came time, though, and Blackmon Jr. was asked which school he would play for next season, he went with his heart: He chose Indiana.

"I actually went back and forth," Blackmon Jr. said. "I actually was saying I was going to Kentucky, and then back and forth. Really I just thought about playing in front of Indiana and how much I love Indiana fans and Indiana basketball and what I think I can do for the state.

"I felt like I could trust [the IU coaching staff]. They recruited me as the main priority. They said that with my commitment they could get back in the top five or top three next year."

After his television interview, Blackmon Jr.'s phone -- which was set on silent -- began to light up. It was Crean.

Blackmon Jr. answered, and the Indiana coach began yelling with excitement.

"He was screaming and yelling and saying he was really excited," Blackmon Jr. said. "I've seen coach Crean excited, but never like that. I think he was really surprised. I think everybody was shocked that I came back. I don't think anybody thought that I would come back."

Even Calipari, who Blackmon Jr. talked to after the announcement, offered his encouragement.

"When I talked to coach Calipari, he just said good luck and he said he thinks I made a good decision," Blackmon Jr. said.

It was an interesting road for Blackmon Jr., who reopened his recruitment back in August after being committed to the Hoosiers for nearly three full years.

"I felt like after my decommitment, my relationship got even better with the coaches," Blackmon Jr. said. "It wasn't like awkward or anything, they still wanted me to come play there. They kept recruiting me and telling me how much they needed me in the program. I'd rather make a huge impact there than anywhere else."

Looking back, Blackmon Jr. handled the whole situation quite well. He heard from thousands of Indiana fans on Twitter and otherwise over the last three months, some of which said bad things about the 6-foot-3 guard.

But Blackmon Jr. remained level-headed, took his time, and made the decision he felt was best.

"Yeah I heard that stuff, but I really just ignored it because i know that fans don't really mean that," Blackmon Jr. said. "I know that once I hit a jump shot, it'll all change and they'll all be back. They'll be back to JB fans."

Blackmon Jr. is the third member of the 2014 recruiting class, joining Virginia guard Robert Johnson and small forward Max Hoetzel. Blackmon Jr. offered his thoughts on Johnson.

"I've heard a lot about him," he said. "I played against him. I've heard he's a really great shooting guard. I heard he can really shoot the ball, too. That's just another threat we're going to have."

With Blackmon Jr. now committed to the Hoosiers once again, there has been a lot of talk about five-star guard JaQuan Lyle possibly joining him in Bloomington. Lyle said there is a possibility he'll visit IU this weekend.

"I really haven't thought about that," Blackmon Jr. said. "He's been texting me and stuff telling me he wants me to play with him."

Blackmon Jr. is just happy to have the whole process behind him. He said he believes he made the right decision, and he is back to being his normal self.

"Today I feel a lot better," he said. "Yesterday and this whole week, I've not been myself. But today I feel like I've been making people laugh like I usually do. It's been a relief."

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