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Preps Plus


Reunited in Marion

Greg Peden has coached against a James Blackmon-led team. So he is glad to now be on the same side.

Peden coached the Northrop boys program for 15 years until 2007 and faced Blackmon's Bishop Luers teams for three seasons.

Peden has been the Marion athletic director for a year, and on Wednesday hired Blackmon to be the new Giants boys basketball coach.

"I hope it will help some," Peden said of the familiarity the two have with one another. "I told him it will be a lot more fun working with him than going against him, with all the players he had. Hopefully we can make a good combination."

Both men are Marion graduates – Peden in 1971 and Blackmon in 1983.

"There is always a draw back here," Peden said of returning to his alma mater. "We remember the old days, but whether they can be recreated obviously nobody knows. It will be a tough task, and the town is not what it used to be population-wise. There are still a lot of people who are interested in basketball, and they have a good feeder program. Hopefully James will be able to take advantage of that and build on it."

Peden and Blackmon each wore No. 24 on the basketball team, but Blackmon's success during his playing days prompted the school to retire the number after he graduated.

Blackmon's two high-school sons are expected to also be a part of the Marion program with James Blackmon Jr. being a senior next season and Vijay Blackmon a sophomore.

"If they are coming along with him, it is a great deal, and they are really good players," Peden said. "I am sure that is one of the things that people in Marion are really excited about being able to see his sons play."

Blackmon Jr. is an Indiana recruit and led the state in scoring last year at 33.3 points per game. He is expected to be a contender for Mr. Basketball next season.

"Sometimes change happens, and sometimes people make an advantage out of it," Blackmon Sr. said of his namesake son. "He is looking at the big picture, and this is a stepping stone for him to get better as a player.

"It is an adjustment that he has to make. James is a mature kid, and he is going to make some right decisions and working hard like he has every single day, and he will be fine."

Vijay has received an offer from IU, and the youngest son, Jalen, is a talented player who is still in elementary school.

High School Sports Editor Greg Jones on prep sports.