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Posted on Fri. Jun. 13, 2014 - 12:01 am EDT

Pair ready for next level after exhibition games

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Indiana vs. Kentucky

Today

Where: Transylvania University, Lexington, Ky.

Times: 5:30 p.m. girls; 8 p.m. boys

Tickets: $30, $20

Saturday

Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis

Times: 5 p.m. girls; 7:15 p.m. boys

Tickets: $100 (courtside), $18, $16, $5

FORT WAYNE — Home is not only where the heart is, sometimes it’s where the comfort level resides. And that is relative.

James Blackmon Jr. grew up in Fort Wayne, made a name for himself on basketball courts in the Summit City but finished his celebrated high school career in Marion after his father, James Blackmon Sr., moved from Bishop Luers to Marion, his alma mater, as the boys coach.

For Blackmon Jr., it meant finishing in unfamiliar territory before embarking on his career at Indiana University.

“At first, I really didn’t want to make that move because I had a lot of friends (in Fort Wayne),” Blackmon Jr. said. “But the basketball and the way they treated me at Marion; … I wouldn’t want to trade it back. The basketball was great there.”

While growing up in Fort Wayne, Blackmon Jr. got the chance to see some All-Star basketball games, namely when former Luers standout Deshaun Thomas won the 2010 Mr. Basketball award and one of the Indiana All-Stars-vs.-Junior All-Stars tune-up games was at Luers.

It is now his turn for the honor of representing the state as an Indiana All-Star.

“I remember watching those games, so it doesn’t feel like I am this old, but I am ready to get off to college and get to the next level,” Blackmon Jr. said.

At Luers, Blackmon Jr. scored more than 1,500 points in three years before adding to that as a Giant and going over the 2,000-point career plateau. His father is an All-Star assistant coach this year.

For D.J. McCall, it will also be a new home after four outstanding years at Concordia. His new place will be in Indianapolis at IUPUI, and his time with the Indiana All-Stars has given him a sneak preview of his future, including a game in Indy.

During the last couple of weeks, McCall and the All-Stars have had mini camps at Indy’s Marian University.

“It has kind of been like a college atmosphere, without the studying,” McCall said of his All-Star experience. “We have been playing and having meals together and hanging out together. It’s about being on time, and it’s a lot of fun.”

Saturday’s game against the Kentucky All-Stars at Bankers Life Fieldhouse will be a return engagement for McCall, who played in the 3A state championship game there as a junior.

“It’s Indy, that’s where I will be for the next four years,” McCall said. “Going back to Bankers Life, … it will give me flashbacks to state, and that’s an awesome place to play. It is a great atmosphere, and I love the city of Indianapolis.”

gjones@jg.net


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