CHICAGO – James Blackmon Jr. is following in his father’s footsteps at the McDonald’s All-American game. But the guard from Fort Wayne is making his own imprint at the all-star event.
The Indiana-bound Blackmon will join 23 of the nation’s elite high school seniors for the McDonald’s game at 9:30 p.m. today at the United Center.
I think that makes it mean a lot more to both of us, Blackmon said about being selected to the game more than 30 years after his dad, James Blackmon. It makes me appreciate this opportunity. I want to chase what he’s done. He was a great player, so it’s great to have a dad you can learn a lot from.
Basketball fans learned that Blackmon is the deadliest 3-pointer shooter in the nation on Monday night. He drained 18 of 25 shots in scoring 23 points in the finals of the Jam Fest 3-point contest to capture the title.
That was so much fun for me, Blackmon said. A lot of people don’t get this opportunity. I work on my outside shot a lot and I think I proved it last night.
Blackmon has also spent the week proving he has more to his game than a feathery jump shot. He threw down an explosive one-handed dunk over a defender in practice and has exuded a quiet confidence among the most elite players in the country.
Indiana coach Tom Crean has known about Blackmon’s versatility since offering him a scholarship before Blackmon entered high school.
I think my relationship with coach Crean is really special, said Blackmon, who transferred from Bishop Luers to Marion for his senior season.
Blackmon Jr. finished his career with 2,387 points to rank ninth on the all-time state scoring list.
He knew everything about my game and was watching me for a long time, he said. As a freshman, he was recruiting me like I was a senior.
As a freshman at IU, Blackmon hopes to make an immediate impact for a program coming off a 17-15 season.
They kind of had an off year this year, but I’m looking forward to building it back up and trying to get things back rolling, Blackmon said. I’m just going to work, try to make the team better and do whatever Coach asks me to do to help us win.
Blackmon will play in the Nike Hoop Summit and Jordan Brand Classic and head to Bloomington in late June.
I love the campus and fans there, he said. The atmosphere is great. Every time I go to a game, there is a lot of love.