INDIANAPOLIS – James Blackmon Jr. wanted one more look around the college basketball world before confirming his original notion. His first choice was his best choice.
Almost three months after reopening his college search, the 6-foot-2 shooting guard recommitted to Indiana and will end any lingering doubts about his future plans Thursday morning by signing a national letter-of-intent to play with the Hoosiers.
"Every school that I was looking into hard was a great fit," he said in a phone interview Wednesday night. "But Indiana is where my heart is. I trust coach (Tom) Crean and the players. We have a good relationship."
The signing should give Crean and Hoosiers fans a chance to exhale after a rough recruiting year.
After watching another prized recruit, Trey Lyles, decommit from the Hoosiers and choose rival Kentucky, fans were understandably nervous when Blackmon decided to take a second look in August.
Blackmon did visit Kentucky — where his father and current high school coach, James, played — along with three other schools with national championship credentials and future title aspirations: Kansas, Michigan and Michigan State.
But unlike Lyles, who signed with Kentucky on Wednesday, Blackmon wound up going back to where he started.
"I think they're a great team right now," Blackmon said of the Hoosiers. "The pieces that will be there next year and then adding me and the other recruits will help them get back and be one of the top teams in the country."
For Indiana (2-0), it's another indication of how strong they've been at recruiting one of the nation's most talent-rich basketball states.
Indiana has signed at least one of the state's top recruits three times in the last four years — Cody Zeller in 2010, Kevin "Yogi" Ferrell and Hanner Mosquera-Perea in 2011 and now Blackmon. A year ago, the Hoosiers had two in-state players in their six-man class, widely ranked among the top 10 in the nation. Devin Davis has gotten regular minutes in the Hoosiers' first two games, both wins, while Colin Hartman has played sparingly.
But Blackmon is a prolific scorer with a sparkling resume.
Last season, he topped the 40-point mark six times and averaged 33.3 points for Fort Wayne Luers. This season, he will play at Marion (Ind.) High School, located between Fort Wayne and Indianapolis, where his father is now coaching. Barring injury, he'll be a big-time scorer again, this time at a program that has five state titles and produced former Indiana stars Jay Edwards and Lyndon Jones.
Blackmon will be joined in Indiana's recruiting class by Robert Johnson of Chesterfield, Va., a 6-3 shooting guard, and 6-7 forward Max Hoetzel. Both are expected to sign Thursday, too.
NCAA rules prohibit Crean from commenting on recruits until their signed letters are received by the school. They don't stop Blackmon from talking, and he is clearly content with his final choice.
"I'm really excited to play for my home state and I think I can make an impact there," Blackmon said. "A lot of people want me to go there, I want to go there."