James Blackmon Jr is a 24 year old 193cm combo guard from ft Wayne, Indiana playing his third professional season and first with Dolomiti Energia Trento (Italy-Serie A). Last season he played with Consultinvest VL Pesaro (Italy-Serie A) playing 30 games: Score-2(19.8ppg), 3.8rpg, 2.0apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 50.4%, 3PT: 34.7%, FT: 89.9%. He played in the G-League as a rookie with the Delaware 87ers (NBA G-League playing 28 games averaging 12.8ppg, 3.3rpg, 2.4apg, FGP: 46.1%, 3PT: 38.6%, FT: 81.1%, and in Jan.’18 signed with the Wisconsin Herd (NBA G League) playing 19 games averaging 16.7ppg, 4.4rpg, 1.6apg, FGP: 57.8%, 3PT: 43.5%, FT: 92.7%. The Mcdonalds All-American played at Indiana(NCAA) from 2014-2017 playing a total of 75 games and as a senior played 30 games averaging 17.0ppg, 4.8rpg, 1.9apg, FGP: 55.3%, 3PT: 42.3%, FT: 83.7%. He spoke to germanhoops.com before a Eurocup game against the EWE Baskets in Oldenburg.
James thanks for talking to germanhoops.com Welcome to Germany. Is this your first time in Germany. What do you know in general about the country Germany and it´s basketball?
I don´t know that much. I had a few guys play here that I know with Kalani Martin I know that the German league is very competitive.
You only have very limited time in the Eurocup travels to other countries. What do you appreciate the most on trips even if you don´t get to see as much of a country and it´s culture like you would?
I am blessed to be able to travel and see Europe. We don´t have much time to see things. The best thing about this experience is being with your teammates.
Your playing your second season in Italy and first with Dolomiti Energia Trento (Italy-Serie A). Americans often rave about the whole basketball experience in Italy and many stay there for many years. Is Italy a place you could see staying for many consecutive years or are you a guy that will want to explore different countries and leagues down the road?
I saw Trento as being the best opportunity for me. I don´t necessarily want to be in one country. I take what is the best opportunity.
Dolomiti Energia Trento (Italy-Serie A) is 4-4 in the Serie A and 3-4 in Eurocup play. Would be correct to say that the team hasn´t found itself as a collective team yet despite being very talented?
We still have a long season. We talent and great players. We have to continue to work hard in practice and put it together in games.
In your rookie season in Europe you belonged to the top scorers in the Serie A. this season you aren´t as much of a scorer as last season, but still first and second in team scoring in the two competitions. Despite that do you have a similar role to last season?
Yes my role this season is similar to last seasons. But this season there are better players. That is why my scoring is down. It is all about finding the right balance.
Let´s talk about your teammates. How much easier does a guy like Aaron Craft make your game when he is running the point who is averaging 7,9apg in the Eurocup and 6,4apg in the Serie A? What have you learned to appreciate most about his game?
He brings a lot of energy and intensity to the game. That helps raise the level of my game.
With George King and Rashard Kelly, you have two fellow young guys sharing the court. How have they impacted the team success most and what do you appreciate most about their games?
They are two unselfish players that really work hard on the court. George has a great shot and can score the ball. Rashard can do many things well at both ends of the court. Both are good to play with.
Let´s talk about your game. You’re a 193cm shooting guard. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit the description?
Guys that I enjoy watching are Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. I am an explosive combo guard scorer that can change a game.
You shot the long ball very well in the NCAA and in the G-League. Last season with Consultinvest VL Pesaro (Italy-Serie A) were at 34%. This season you are shooting the ball well again. What do you feel is the most important thing now at this stage of your career to keep being able to develop your shot more besides reps and shot selection?
The main thing is to always have confidence on the court. Knowing you can make the shots and taking the right ones are key.
Your already a complete player, but on what things are you currently working on most on your game to continue to help improve in certain aspects?
I want to become more of a leader. I want to be that vocal leader. I also want to be able to show more on both sides of the ball.
How much pride do you take on the defensive end? When your offense isn´t on, do you look to get your defense going to help spark your offense again?
Yes for sure. Each night is different. I want to be able to do different things to impact the game. I haven´t been scoring as much as usual so I want to impact game in different ways.
Last season as a rookie in Europe you played with Consultinvest VL Pesaro (Italy-Serie A) playing 30 games: Score-2(19.8ppg), 3.8rpg, 2.0apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 50.4%, 3PT: 34.7%, FT: 89.9%. What was your wake up call to being a rookie where you knew that you were very far away from home?
Just how the game is different. There is a lot less spacing here. The game is intense and physical in Italy.
As a rookie you played in the G-League with teams Delaware 87ers (NBA G-League) averaging 12.8ppg, 3.3rpg, 2.4apg, FGP: 46.1%, 3PT: 38.6%, FT: 81.1%, in Jan.’18 signed with the Wisconsin Herd (NBA G League) averaging 16.7ppg, 4.4rpg, 1.6apg, FGP: 57.8%, 3PT: 43.5%, FT: 92.7%. How was this experience for you? You had solid stats. Did you ever feel that season that you were close to an NBA call up?
I started the season with the 76ers. I got an opportunity and they wanted to see me play point guard. I played with Delaware and showed I could get many assists. With Wisconsin, I showed that I could play off the ball and show my scoring side. It was a good development year. I think that I was closest to getting to the NBA with Milwaukee. My goal each day is to get better.
You were already a scorer at Indiana(NCAA), but how do you feel did you develop further as a player in the G-League where there is little team play and many playing for stats?
I am big for a point guard and showed with Delaware that I can be a combo guard. With Wisconsin, I showed I could be a scorer and make shots.
How vital was it playing with and against ex NBA players and young NBA player prospects. How valuable was this experience to raise your game a bit more?
My goal is always to be in the NBA. Each night you have the opportunity to show what you have in the G-league. Being able to play against all that talent definitely raised my game. It also helped that I was in the gym every day.
You played a short time with NBA player Emeka Okafor with Delaware. What kind of experience was it being able to share the court with him and hanging out with him and picking his brain on road trips?
He has had a long NBA career. I was always able to talk to him. He taught me a lot about taking care of my body and diet. He gave me tips about the NBA. He told me that had the perfect skill set and it was all about timing and getting there is something you can´t really control. He told me to work as hard as possible each day and always be in the gym.
You played at Indiana(NCAA) from 2014-2017. You had many different experiences there being teammates with Yog iFerrell, broke Eric Gordon´s record, was injured as a sophomore playing only 13 games and had a strong senior campaign. How do you summarize your three year career? What was your most memorable moment?
I came in as a Mcdonalds All-American and started as a freshman. I was a leader and handled everything well. My sophomore year was tough being injured, but my last year, I came back strong into that leader role and helped me get experience.
When was the last time that you watched your amazing buzzer beater against Penn State? Is this a video you like to watch to help motivate you?
I honestly haven´t watched that in a while. When I do watch it, it definitely motivates me and brings back memories.
How did head coach Tom Crean groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
He taught how important approach is. I don´t think there is a coach that went harder than him or was more in the gym trying to figure out how to get the upper hand on teams. I learned a lot from him.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Yogi Ferrell?
We always went back and forth. We always did limited dribbles and taking certain spots. We were always in the gym together.
How much of an influence has your dad been for you through your basketball career? How has he been able to shape and make you the man that you are today?
He put the ball in my hand. He groomed me as a player and showed me all I know. He was my coach in high school. He was a Mcdonalds All-American at Kentucky. He was every where where I wanted to be at.
You played NBA Summer League in 2017 and 2018, but not in 2019. How wide is the door open for you trying to get into the NBA or are you concentrating now on a European career and titles?
My goal is always the NBA and just getting better.
Who is the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA that is in the NBA now?
I had to guard Yogi Ferrell each day in practice. That was a tough cover.
If you had to construct your own personal NBA Rushmore, which 4 heads would you pick that best fits your taste?
Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Shaq and Michael Jordan
Where will the journey of the Golden State Warriors go now with the injury to Steph Curry? Is the Dynasty now over?
They will back next season on the comeback trail.
What is your personal opinion of the never ending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Michael Jordan or Lebron James?
Everybody wants to say Jordan, but he was before my time. I have to say Lebron
What was the last movie that you saw?
Love and Basketball.
Thanks James for the chat.