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IU basketball loses Troy Williams, keeps James Blackmon Jr.



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Junior foward Troy Williams shoots a layup during the game against Minnesota on Saturday at Assembly Hall. The Hoosiers won 74-48. Haley Ward and Haley Ward Buy Photos

Despite both waiting until the final day to do so, junior forward Troy Williams and sophomore guard James Blackmon Jr. both did what many 
expected.

For Williams, that meant foregoing his senior season and hiring an agent to represent him during the process leading up to the NBA draft June 23.

For Blackmon, that meant returning for his junior season after missing 22 games of his sophomore season because of a January surgery to repair a torn ACL.

Williams had initially declared for the draft April 11 but didn’t hire an agent, meaning he could theoretically return to Bloomington if he wanted.

But despite still being a couple of classes and an internship away from graduating, Williams left IU after participating in the NBA combine and working out for a handful of NBA teams.

Williams averaged 13.3 points a game in his junior season, while also grabbing 5.8 rebounds and recording 2.0 assists.

The 6-foot-7 forward was criticized by analysts at the NBA combine for wild and inconsistent play. Sam Vecine of CBSSports.com said he would find it unlikely an NBA team would invest a draft pick in Williams.

Chad Ford named him to his all-go-back-to-school team.

But Williams always hinted his time in Bloomington was over, even in the midst of this criticism. At the combine in early May, Williams said it wouldn’t hurt his pride if he had to play in the D-League at the start of his professional career.

While Williams’ future was in limbo, the Hoosiers added Freddie McSwain Jr., a junior college transfer who projects to be a similar player to Williams.

Blackmon’s decision to return to Bloomington also meant McSwain took Williams’ scholarship spot. Had Williams chosen to play his senior season, IU would have been over-signed by one player, meaning someone would have had to leave.

McSwain is one of a handful of players who could fill Williams’ spot in the starting lineup, along with rising sophomore forward OG Anunoby.

Another possibility is for rising senior forward Collin Hartman to play on the wing, where Williams used to play, and incoming freshman De’Ron Davis or rising sophomore Juwan Morgan to slide into Hartman’s old spot.

Blackmon has always figured into these future plans, as the Hoosiers did not heavily pursue potential guard transfers like Spike Albrecht from Michigan.

Because he was still in the process of recovering from surgery, Blackmon did not participate in the NBA combine or any individual workouts, instead talking to NBA teams about what they liked and did not like about how he played and what could be improved.

Now, Blackmon will combine with rising junior guard Robert Johnson to try and replace recently graduated guard Yogi Ferrell.

No matter the decisions of Williams and Blackmon, many experts figured IU would start the season ranked in the top teams in the country.

Now, without Williams but with Blackmon, the Hoosiers rank No. 15 in NBC Sports early preseason top 25, the third-highest team in the Big Ten.

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