Tom Crean

James Blackmon Jr.
AP Photo/Doug McSchooler

Indiana guard Blackmon Jr. enters NBA Draft, won’t hire an agent


With Troy Williams already going through the NBA Draft process without an agent, another Indiana player announced Monday that he’ll do the same.

Guard James Blackmon Jr., who played in just 13 games last season due to a knee injury, will go through the pre-draft process without hiring an agent in order to preserve his college eligibility. Blackmon Jr. averaged 15.8 points and 4.2 rebounds per game last season for the Hoosiers, shooting 48.0 percent from the field and 46.3 percent from beyond the arc. currently ranks Blackmon Jr. 30th amongst college sophomores and does not project him to be selected in this year’s draft. But going through the process will allow Blackmon Jr. to receive feedback from NBA scouts and executives, at the very least to have a better idea of what he’ll need to improve upon in order to not only reach the next level but stick around once there.

Freshman OG Anunoby briefly considered going through the draft process before deciding not to do so. The Hoosiers have some key personnel losses to address this offseason, most notably that of point guard and team leader Yogi Ferrell. With Ferrell moving on Blackmon Jr. will be a key figure for the Hoosiers as they look to build on their Sweet 16 appearance and Big Ten regular season title.

No. 12 Indiana finishes regular season with a flourish

Indiana guard Yogi Ferrell (11) and forward Troy Williams (5) celebrate as they leave the court following the team's NCAA college basketball game against Purdue in Bloomington, Ind., Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016. Indiana defeated Purdue 77-73. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
AP Photo/Michael Conroy

Having already clinched the outright Big Ten regular season title, the question for No. 12 Indiana was whether or not they’d win it by multiple games. No. 14 Maryland represented a worthy challenge, but after getting off to a slow start the Hoosiers found their rhythm as the first half progressed. And in the second half Tom Crean’s team grabbed the game by its throat, going on to win by the final score of 80-62 to win the Big Ten title by two games.

It’s been said before but it bears repeating: the turnaround made by Tom Crean’s team since non-conference play has been highly impressive, regardless of what some say about the strength of Indiana’s conference schedule (KenPom rates Michigan State’s league slate as being slightly weaker, in fact).

The Hoosiers limited Maryland to 41.4 percent shooting from the field and 8-for-24 from three on the day, and they also converted 14 Terrapin turnovers into 20 points. Indiana’s improved effort on the defensive end has been a key in their transformation from struggling team with an embattled head coach during non-conference play to the Big Ten regular season champion. If there was one play in Sunday’s win that can be used as a good example of this, it would be Yogi Ferrell’s diving for a Maryland attempt to roll the ball inbounds late in the second half to save time.

Ferrell could have easily allowed Maryland to pull this off, or even fake an attempt to go after the ball so Maryland would pick up the ball prematurely. Instead he sold out, and that kind of effort has been present throughout Big Ten play. The senior point guard has been the leader for Indiana, but Ferrell’s had plenty of help in pushing the Hoosiers to the top of the Big Ten. Ferrell finished Sunday’s game with 17 points and four assists, and wing Troy Williams led the way with a game-high 23 points to go along with five boards.

Ferrell is undoubtedly Indiana’s most important player. But if the Hoosiers are to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament, they’re also going to need an engaged Williams. He was that kind of player against Maryland, playing with an energy that makes him a very difficult matchup for many opponents. This comes on the heels of a solid 15-point, seven-rebound outing in the win at Iowa Tuesday night, and over Indiana’s final five regular season games the junior averaged 16.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per contest.

If Williams can continue on this path in the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments, Indiana will be a tough out. They’ve received contributions across the board, from stars and role players alike, resulting in the program’s second Big Ten title in four years. And as they showed for most of Sunday’s regular season finale, Indiana has the tools needed to accomplish even more over the next month.

Ferrell scores 27, leads No. 18 Indiana past Illinois 74-47

Indiana guard Yogi Ferrell (11) dribbles around Illinois guard Malcolm Hill (21) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Champaign, Ill., on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016. Indiana won 74-47. (AP Photo/Heather Coit)
AP Photo/Heather Coit
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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) Yogi Ferrell scored 27 points and No. 18 Indiana used a huge second half to rout Illinois 74-47 on Thursday night.

The Big Ten leaders trailed 28-27 at halftime, but Ferrell scored 19 second-half points and Indiana (23-6, 13-3) pulled away from the Illini (12-16, 4-11). Ferrell’s 3-pointer with 7:58 left put the Hoosiers up 56-37.

Nick Zeisloft scored 14 for Indiana, and Thomas Bryant had 14 points and eight rebounds.

Jalen Coleman-Lands led Illinois with 21 points.

The Hoosiers held Illinois’ top two scorers, Malcolm Hill and Kendrick Nunn, to a combined 13 points. Hill entered averaging 18.6 per game, and Nunn 16.4.

The Hoosiers blew out Illinois with a barrage of second-half 3-pointers, going 10 for 17 from behind the arc over the final 20 minutes. They hit three in the first half.

Ferrell’s 19 second-half points equaled the output of the entire Illini team. He finished 11 of 18 from the field, including 5 for 10 from 3-point range.

One particular sequence illustrated what Ferrell means to the Hoosiers at both ends of the court. With just under 10 minutes left and the Illini trying to claw their way back into it, Nunn held the ball just outside the 3-point line as Illinois started to set up its offense.

But before Nunn could even glance at a teammate, Ferrell scooted by him, swiped the ball from a stunned Nunn and broke to the other end of the court. Ferrell’s easy layup put the Hoosiers up 50-37.

Just 2 minutes later, Ferrell sank a 3 that put the Hoosiers up 56-37 and silenced the arena – except for his own bench, which was whooping it up.

Indiana took Illinois’ best weapon, Hill, all but out of the game. By halftime he’d taken a total of two shots, missing both.

When he tried to force himself into it in the second half, the Hoosiers shut him down.

With the Illini down by six with just under 17 minutes left, Hill drove toward the basket but found two Hoosiers between himself and the rim when he got there. The junior was forced to kick the ball out to a teammate, who missed his shot, and Illinois came away with nothing.


Indiana: Starting guard Robert Johnson missed the game with a sprained ankle. … The Hoosiers close the regular season with a pair of games against ranked teams, at No. 8 Iowa and at home against No. 10 Maryland.

Illinois: The team’s only win over a ranked opponent this season was Jan. 10 against then-No. 20 Purdue. Since then the Illini have gone 3-8. Illinois is 1-5 against Top 25 teams this season. … Coleman-Lands was the only Illinois player who scored in double figures.


Indiana travels to No. 8 Iowa on Tuesday.

Illinois closes out its home schedule Sunday against Minnesota.

Follow David Mercer on Twitter, (at)davidmercerAP

This story has been corrected to show Indiana is 13-3 in Big Ten play.

Denzel Valentine dominant as No. 8 Michigan State whips Indiana

Michigan State's Denzel Valentine (45) shoots over Indiana's Kevin Yogi Ferrell during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)
AP Photo/Al Goldis
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Trailing by one point at the half, Indiana appeared to be in good shape at No. 8 Michigan State. However the fact that they were unable to slow down Denzel Valentine, who scored 15 first-half points, was a major concern for Tom Crean’s Hoosiers. Sure enough the national Player of the Year candidate continued on his tour de force in the second half, scoring another 15 points and dishing out seven assists as the Spartans rolled to an 88-69 victory.

For the game Valentine finished with 30 points, five rebounds, 13 assists and just one turnover. Of Michigan State’s 48 second half points, Valentine had a hand in 29 of them with all seven of his assists resulting in Michigan State layups. It was a dominant performance from one of the nation’s best players, a versatile guard whose four games missed due to injury may have led to some overlooking him when it comes to those national Player of the Year conversations.

When Valentine’s on everything else flows smoothly for Tom Izzo’s team, as his ability to both score and create results in quality looks for teammates who would struggle if they had to get that part of the job done themselves.

The biggest beneficiary Sunday afternoon was forward Matt Costello, who finished the game with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Of Costello’s ten made field goals (10-for-12 FG) five were assisted by Valentine, and he accounted for 13 points and seven rebounds in the second half. As a team Michigan State shot 63.3 percent from the field and assisted on 16 of their 19 made field goals in the second half, turning a tight contest into a blowout.

Tum Tum Nairn returned the court for the first time in seven games, but he played just two minutes and his time on the court will be managed carefully by Izzo moving forward. For many teams not having your point guard at full strength would represent a crippling blow, but that hasn’t been the case for Michigan State thanks in large part to Valentine. Michigan State went 4-3 in those seven games without Nairn, but the three losses were by a total of three points.

Valentine’s ability to make his teammates better will be a key factor down the stretch for Michigan State, and that skill was what led to the Spartans blowing out Indiana on Sunday.

No. 22 Indiana rips off 25-0 run, blows out Michigan

Indiana center Thomas Bryant, left, defends a shot attempt from guard Zak Irvin (21), in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016. Indiana won 80-67. (AP Photo/Tony Ding)
AP Photo/Tony Ding

With 14:31 remaining in the first half Derrick Walton Jr. hit a three-pointer to give Michigan a 15-4 lead at home against No. 22 Indiana. With the Hoosiers tied for first in the Big Ten, this could have been a nice win for the Wolverines’ NCAA tournament résumé. Unfortunately for John Beilein’s team things didn’t play out that way, with Walton’s shot essentially being the team’s final highlight of the game.

Indiana would outscore the Wolverines 41-9 the rest of the half, and that included a 25-0 run over the final 8:42, on their way to an 80-67 win that wasn’t as close as the final margin would indicate. The run can be seen in the embedded tweet below, with the baskets that came as part of the 25-0 finish starting at the 12 second mark.

The fact that Indiana put points on the board is no surprise at all; the Hoosiers have been one of the most efficient teams in the country even with the season-ending injury suffered by James Blackmon Jr. The area that has changed for the Hoosiers has been their defense, most notably the effort shown on that end of the floor.

Early in the season Indiana was at best indifferent on defense, with their ability to score points serving as a crutch players were far too willing to rely on. That’s changed in recent weeks, even with Indiana’s relatively light conference schedule to this point. Yogi Ferrell’s been the leader for Indiana, with Thomas Bryant making strides and role players such as Max Bielfeldt and OG Anunoby chipping in as well.

Michigan shot just 28.1 percent from the field in the first half Tuesday night, as Indiana took away the high-quality looks the Wolverines were able to find at the game’s start. Michigan aims to spread teams with the way in which they run their offense, using screens and cuts to produce quality shots. But the Hoosiers remained disciplined, and the open looks were few and far between for the home team as a result.

Given Indiana’s conference schedule they’ve still got some major challenges in front of them before the end of the regular season, with games against Iowa (twice), Michigan State, Purdue and Maryland remaining on the schedule. But there’s no denying that Indiana has made significant improvements since their struggles in some high-profile non-conference games, making the Hoosiers a team that’s at the very least better equipped to hold their own in those upcoming games against the Big Ten’s best.

Bryant helps No. 19 Hoosiers hold off Gophers for 74-68 win

Indiana center Thomas Bryant (31) shoots over Minnesota center Bakary Konate (21) in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Bloomington, Ind., Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016. Indiana won 74-68. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) Indiana’s Thomas Bryant got down and dirty Saturday and looked good doing it.

He scored points, banged inside, played defense and jump-started the Hoosiers’ sometimes anemic offense at three key points.

The freshman center had a career-high 23 points, grabbed eight rebounds and scored the go-ahead basket on a putback with 1:56 left to help No. 19 Indiana fend off Minnesota’s frantic second-half rally for a 74-68 victory.

“It was just one of those games that you have to do some things to find a way to win the game and he had a big impact,” coach Tom Crean said.

Bryant made plays on both ends in a game the Hoosiers (18-4, 8-1 Big Ten) desperately needed after the Golden Gophers erased a 16-point second-half deficit and took a 67-66 lead with 3:54 to go.

But Bryant clogged up the middle and the Golden Gophers didn’t make another basket.

Offensively, Bryant’s basket off the rebound and an emphatic dunk with 27 seconds left made it 70-67. That was all the Hoosiers needed.

“I felt like Thomas stayed with it even when calls didn’t go his way,” senior guard Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell said after scoring 13 points. “He kept his head, he played great defense, he rebounded well for us and he had that poise for us.”

This was no typical game for the surging Hoosiers.

They started slow, didn’t take the lead until midway through the first half, didn’t make a 3-pointer for the first 14 1/2 minutes and couldn’t close it out against a team that has now lost 11 in a row.

Minnesota (6-16, 0-10) was led by Nate Mason and Kevin Dorsey, who each had 21 points. Dorsey’s scoring total was a career high.

After trailing 39-27 at halftime and 48-32 with 16:33 to play, the Gophers rallied.

They scored six straight points, went on an 11-4 run and finally took the lead when Dupree Brayer came up with a steal and scored on a breakaway dunk that sent the Gophers bench jumping up and down while most of the fans inside Assembly Hall were stunned.

Bryant made sure it didn’t last.

“I think maybe they tightened up a little bit defensively, so you’ve got to give them credit,” Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said. “I know a lot of people make fun of us, our record, and so on. But these guys, they’re fighting.”


Minnesota opened the game with a 7-0 lead, then fell into a 12-point halftime deficit after Indiana went on a 22-4 run. The Gophers turned things around in the second half and came up short. It’s not the first time this season things have gotten a little topsy-turvy. Indiana rallied from a nine-point first-half deficit for a 70-63 win earlier this month at Minnesota.


Both teams finished 2 of 18 on 3-pointers, but it was Indiana’s numbers that really turned heads. The Hoosiers set a conference record in league play with 18 3s the last time Minnesota came to Bloomington, and the Hoosiers started the day No. 3 in the nation in 3-point percentage (44.4 percent). Afterward, Cream said he would have liked his team to have taken even more 3s.


After the game, Pitino noted that his team almost pulled off a major upset on the road despite playing with only seven scholarship players. Senior guard Carlos Morris, a team captain and former starter, missed the game to attend the funeral of a family friend.


Minnesota: Outscored Indiana 48-42 in the paint and had the same offensive rebound total (10) as Indiana. … In addition to losing 11 in a row, the Gophers have lost three straight in the Indiana series and 15 of their last 16 Big Ten regular season games.

Indiana: Troy Williams also scored 13 points and had six rebounds. … Came into the game with three consecutive home wins by 25 or more points for the first time since 1987-88.


Minnesota visits Northwestern on Thursday.

Indiana visits Michigan on Tuesday.