Life in the G League: Former Indiana guard James Blackmon Jr. believes with complete confidence that ‘I am an NBA player’

Former Fort Wayne resident and Indiana University guard James Blackmon Jr. rests during a scrimmage at the NBA G League Elite Mini-Camp Monday in Chicago. (By Tom Davis of News-Sentinel.com)
Former Fort Wayne resident and Indiana University guard James Blackmon Jr. waits for an opening in the offense during a scrimmage at the NBA G League Elite Mini-Camp Monday in Chicago. (By Tom Davis of News-Sentinel.com)
Former Fort Wayne resident and Indiana University guard James Blackmon Jr. defends during a scrimmage at the NBA G League Elite Mini-Camp Monday in Chicago. (By Tom Davis of News-Sentinel.com)
Former Fort Wayne resident and Indiana University guard James Blackmon Jr. rests during a scrimmage at the NBA G League Elite Mini-Camp Monday in Chicago. (By Tom Davis of News-Sentinel.com)

CHICAGO – For James Blackmon Jr., life has been all about timing.

The former Fort Wayne resident and Indiana University guard left Bloomington with a year of eligibility remaining because “it was time” and he believes that he is going to fulfill his dream of playing in the NBA but for now it is just a matter of “timing and opportunity.”

Blackmon Jr. took advantage of some fortuitous “timing and opportunity” both last season and on Monday at the G League’s Elite Mini-Camp.

The event was conducted to showcase the top 51 prospects out of the G League and a lot of NBA scouts watched Blackmon Jr. finish this season on a high note and they watched him progressively get better as Monday’s scrimmages wore on.

“In the first game,” Blackmon Jr. told News-Sentinel.com following four games, “I felt like I showed a lot of the defensive intensity that I need to bring. I was active and using my hands and my wingspan. And in the second game, I kind of caught on fire (offensively).”

Blackmon Jr. did Monday (and last season) what he can do, which is knock down jumpers. But that isn’t what prevented him from making the NBA in his first season out of college it was his ability at the other end of the court. However, he is making strides in that regard.

“I think that it is timing and opportunity and finding the right fit,” Blackmon Jr. said of making the NBA. “That is what it comes down to. There are a lot of teams that are high on me and I just have to keep doing what I am doing and keep working.”

He got an “opportunity” mid-season when he was traded from Delaware of the G League to Wisconsin. After starting just seven of 28 games with the 87ers, Blackmon Jr. earned 13 starts in his final 18 games with the Herd and he elevated his production.

Blackmon Jr. improved his shooting from 45.7 percent to nearly 51 percent and his 3-point shooting rose from 40 to 44 percent.

He finished the year averaging over 17 points and playing 33.5 minutes per game for Wisconsin.

“I feel like I am right there,” Blackmon Jr. said of making the NBA. “I am one opportunity away.”

That confidence is what allowed him to leave Indiana despite the fact that he wasn’t assured an opportunity to be drafted and ultimately he wasn’t. Blackmon Jr. admitted that he thought about returning to the Hoosiers for one final season, but he made his decision and he has done so without regrets.

“I did,” Blackmon Jr. said of contemplating one final season with the Hoosiers, “but I knew that it was time for me and I never look back. I felt like the career that I had, there wasn’t much more that I could do.”

Blackmon Jr. admits to missing Fort Wayne but his life this spring has been a whirlwind and it won’t slow down anytime soon so coming home is a difficult proposition right now.

He has spent time in Indianapolis, Bloomington and Miami training this spring and following the G League event, he will participate in a mini-camp with the Orlando Magic.

He participated in the NBA Summer League for Philadelphia last summer before going to training camp with the 76ers in the fall and he anticipates following a similar path with Milwaukee over the next few months.

“You have to stick to what you do and stick to your principles,” Blackmon Jr. said of his mindset, “and just be who you are. At the end of the day, I think everything will work out in your favor if you stick to who you are as a person.”

And Blackmon Jr. doesn’t waffle on who he believes that he is.

“Right now,” he concluded, “my mindset is that I am an NBA player so I am going to make the NBA.”

For more on the sport of basketball, follow Tom Davis on Twitter at Tom101010, Facebook at Thomas Davis, and Instagram at tomdavis101010.

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