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It took mere moments following Marion’s recent victory at Homestead for Giant star James Blackmon Jr. to be engulfed by the masses.
Local media requested interviews and fans wearing Indiana Hoosiers apparel asked for photographs with the future Indiana guard before giving him some quick words.
“Thank you for choosing to go to IU,” one fan said as Blackmon Jr. exited the gym.
It’s that kind of chaos that has followed the No. 2 ranked player in this state throughout his high school career.
“It’s been something I had to get used to,” Blackmon Jr. said. “That’s the one thing I love about IU fans. I love when people recognize great players and players that are going to IU. That’s something I want to keep thanking people for.”
The attention started for Blackmon Jr. once he committed to the Hoosiers in 2010. However, in August he decommitted, but ultimately signed with the Hoosiers in November.
The 6-foot-3 shooter will now lead a bolstering 2014 recruiting class.
The Carroll Shootout was Blackmon Jr.’s first opportunity to play in his hometown (Fort Wayne) after transferring to Marion for his senior season this past summer. He played for Bishop Luers High School prior to this season, but after his father (James Sr.) left the Luers program to coach at his alma mater, Marion, his two sons (Vijay is a sophomore) followed him.
There has been an adjustment to playing at Marion, but Blackmon Jr. already loves the atmosphere.
“I love how everyone comes out to support you,” he said. “The city is right behind you and everyone wants great basketball. Even when we’re on the road it seems like the Marion crowd is better.”
The Marion crowd certainly took away the home-court feel for the Spartans on this night, as the north bleachers were nearly filled with purple. The bleachers opposite the pro-Marion crowd held the Homestead crowd, who heckled Blackmon Jr. most of the night.
That will prove ironic, as next season many of those same fans will be cheering for him in Bloomington.
“It’s really funny because people want to get into your head,” Blackmon Jr. said. “That’s one thing that gets me going and that’s what got me going in this game.”