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Saturday, June 15
The Indiana Daily Student

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Blackmon scores 19 in Assembly Hall debut

James Blackmon Jr.’s first shot attempt in front of a home crowd at Assembly Hall was a 3-point attempt.

He buried it.

Less than two minutes later in the Hoosier Hysteria scrimmage, the freshman guard once again found himself with an open look from ?beyond the arc.

After hitting the first 3-point attempt, he didn’t hesitate on his second step-back 3-point opportunity.

Swish.

Blackmon finished IU’s 20-minute scrimmage with 19 points for the White team in a 49-42 losing effort against the Red team, led by IU junior guard Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell.

Performance in an inter-team scrimmage 20 days before the regular season begins, where official statistics weren’t kept, needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

But, the former McDonalds All-American couldn’t help but be pleased with being able to get his first shots under his belt in front of an ?Indiana crowd.

“It was fun for me,” Blackmon said. “Definitely when I hit a couple, I feel like I’ve got it going. So that makes me even more aggressive, so I think that helped.”

Blackmon’s offensive versatility was on full display in front of a ?Hoosier Hysteria crowd that filled almost the entire bottom level of seating at Assembly Hall.

When he was open from beyond the arc, he didn’t hesitate to let it fly.

But after making his first two 3-point attempts, Blackmon used a hesitation dribble at the top of the key to penetrate into the lane and convert on a floater.

With Ferrell playing for the Red team, Blackmon took the reins as point guard for the White team.

He was able to not only score but serve as a facilitator to teammates as he could potentially do if he ever sees time at point guard this season.

For Blackmon, it was a performance similar to his games during IU’s trip to Canada, where he averaged a team-high 19 points per game and shot 87 percent from the ?free-throw line.

He said the Canada trip gave him confidence to attack. Saturday, his job was to attack Ferrell, who IU Coach Tom Crean referred to as the Hoosiers’ “shut-down” defender.

“I think James Blackmon learned there’s a difference when Yogi Ferrell gets on you,” Crean said. “If I say, ‘Really, this guy needs to shut down,’ Yogi goes to that guy.”

Crean said it was good for Blackmon to try and create offense and space for himself while being guarded by Ferrell, who has been referred to by a number of teammates as the best defender on the team.

Blackmon relishes the opportunity to try to score against Ferrell. He said he actually wanted Ferrell to guard him the whole scrimmage so he could test himself.

“A guy like him, he has great defense, probably one of the best in the conference,” Blackmon said. “So if I can score on him, I can score on anybody.”

While guarding Nick Zeisloft with just under five ?minutes left in the scrimmage, Blackmon anticipated a pass and got a hand in the passing lane for a steal and was off to the races the other way.

Zeisloft fouled Blackmon on the layup attempt, sending the Fort Wayne native to the free-throw line where he converted 2-for-2 attempts.

For good measure, he also managed to throw in a buzzer-beater with the shot clock expiring on a corner three off a pass from ?Williams.

And he even tossed in a one-handed tomahawk dunk to put a exclamation point on the night.

“Coach has confidence in me, so I’ve had confidence in myself my whole life,” Blackmon said. “Basically, I’m just going to be aggressive and do what I can do to help the team.”

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