It’s a flurry of news, as expected, on the NCAA’s draft deadline day. Next up: Indiana. Two bits of player movement news. First, the good: James Blackmon Jr. will be back in an IU uniform, per a school release. Blackmon, who played only 13 games last season before injuring (and needing surgery on) his right knee, will be a critical offensive component for the Hoosiers next season.
He was one of the best freshman in the country in 2014-15.
The bad? Troy Williams is leaving the NBA. Multiple reports have Williams staying in the draft. He’s signed with an agent, so it’s a done deal. Williams averaged 13.3 points and 5.8 rebounds. His decision not to return isn’t a shock; this was the expected move by many. It just took him until the final day to make it official.
But getting Blackmon back is a coup. He’s perfect for Tom Crean’s system, and given IU is losing Yogi Ferrell to graduation, Blackmon might well be the leading scorer for the Hoosiers next year. He’s averaged 15.8 points and 4.8 rebounds through two seasons. Remember, Indiana is also returning Thomas Bryant, who has promise and potential to be one of the 10 best sophomores in the nation in 2016-17, and OG Anunoby, a tremendous athlete and one of the biggest breakout players from this past March. Robert Johnson’s role should be enhanced, too.
Bottom line: Blackmon coming back means Indiana will compete near the top of the Big Ten. To me, Michigan State is the only team in the league that looks better on paper as of today.
The Hoosiers are ranked No. 12 in CBS Sports’ Ridiculously Early Preseason Top 25 (and one).