Indiana sophomore guard James Blackmon Jr., one of the top returning players in the Big Ten, will be out until September after undergoing surgery to repair torn meniscus cartilage in his left knee. Hoosiers coach Tom Crean said Tuesday that Blackmon had surgery last week and stressed there’s no ligament damage.
Blackmon was given a six- to eight-week timetable to return and projects to be at full strength by mid-September at the latest, well before the start of practice in October.
“It was a tough setback for James and all of us, but in the scheme of things relatively minor in the way that it has all been handled,” Crean said. “He had a great spring and was in the midst of having an even better summer.”
Blackmon, who averaged 15.7 points per game last season, turned down a chance to enter the NBA draft after being projected as a likely second-round pick. He returned to Bloomington for a chance to improve on his strong freshman season, focusing on bettering his defense and strength after playing most of last season at around 190 pounds. Crean estimates Blackmon’s off-season work has put him above 200 pounds.
“His strength has gone up significantly since the season ended,” Crean said. “When he’s not getting on the court, he’s making up for it (with upper body work) in the weight room.”
Blackmon finished eighth in scoring in the Big Ten last year and second on the Hoosiers behind senior guard Yogi Ferrell (16.3 ppg). The return of Blackmon, Ferrell and talented junior wing Troy Williams (13.0 ppg) gives Indiana one of the strongest returning cores in the Big Ten. The Hoosiers went 20-13 last season, earning a No. 10 seed in the NCAA tournament before falling in the Round of 64 to No. 7 Wichita State.