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Tuesday, May 09, 2017 1:00 am

Blackmon to remain in NBA draft

Former Luers star hires agent, won't return to Hoosiers

CHRIS GOFF | The Journal Gazette

Despite much uncertainty about his professional prospects, James Blackmon Jr. decided to take the plunge.

The Fort Wayne native announced Monday that he will skip his senior season at Indiana and turn pro, leaving the Hoosiers and hiring an agent despite not being considered a significant prospect for June's NBA draft.

In three years in Bloomington, Blackmon averaged 16.3 points and 4.9 rebounds per game, starting at shooting guard from the moment he set foot on campus and making his mark as one of IU's best-ever 3-point marksmen despite battling knee injuries.

“I would like to thank my family for being there through all of the ups and the downs,” Blackmon wrote in a message posted to his Twitter account. “I would like to thank my teammates, who have became brothers to me, for pushing me everyday. I would like to thank the fans and everyone who has supported me throughout my career at Indiana University. I would like to thank God for allowing me to play a game I love.”

Blackmon declared for the draft last month but did not immediately hire an agent, which preserved his NCAA eligibility as he attempted to assess his options. Mock drafts do not project Blackmon to be chosen in the 2-round, 60-pick event.

“After much reflection and discussion with my family, I have decided to remain in the 2017 NBA draft and sign with an agent,” Blackmon wrote. “The past three years have been an amazing ride. Through blood, sweat and tears, putting on that Indiana jersey every game and playing in front of diehard Indiana fans was an honor and privilege.”

Even if Blackmon goes undrafted, he could still try to catch on with an NBA team in September or October in training camp. Another option would be to earn a paycheck in the D-League or head overseas to join a European club.

Named third-team All-Big Ten as a junior, Blackmon participated in IU's graduation ceremonies over the weekend. A school spokesman clarified that Blackmon had not finished his degree but was “within the threshold to potentially earn his degree by August.”

“After graduating Indiana in three years, I am thrilled to take the next step in my basketball career and pursue a lifelong dream,” Blackmon wrote. “The past three years have brought memories and relationships I will never forget.”

Blackmon came out of high school as a McDonald's All-American. He averaged 29.5 points at Bishop Luers before wrapping up his prep career with a 33.4 scoring average as a senior playing for his father at Marion.

Doubts exist regarding Blackmon's defense, passing and athleticism. But the 6-foot-4 guard became the third Hoosier to decide to hire an agent and remain in this year's draft, joining Thomas Bryant and OG Anunoby.

“Bloomington will always have a special place in my heart,” Blackmon wrote. “Thank you Hoosier Nation!”

cgoff@jg.net