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NBA Draft 2016: James Blackmon Jr. optimistic about return to Indiana

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Blackmon spoke with 1400 MBAT in Marion and his interview should give Hoosier fans optimism that he'll return to school.

Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Editor's note: This is the first installment in our new morning newsletter series -- Quarry Blocks. It'll run every weekday morning, with a run-around of all the previous day's Indiana sports news, and some other stuff.

"(Keeping my name in the draft) is a possibility always. I think it would be for anyone. But at the same time, my junior year at Indiana, I’m going to be a leader, I’m going to be someone that can lead a great team, probably a top 10 team next year so that’s pretty hard to pass up."

--James Blackmon Jr. via Moritz Sports, 1400 MBAT Marion

James Blackmon Jr. was expected to be an integral piece for the Hoosiers last season, and he was until his season-ending injury in late December. Blackmon surprised Hoosier fans when he declared for the NBA draft last month. However, in his interview with Moritz Sports, Blackmon provided Hoosier fans with a few points of optimism--regarding both his recovery and his draft status. Blackmon told Moritz Sports he can do everything except play 5-on-5, which will mark the final step in his recovery. Blackmon and his doctors expect him to reach that milestone in July. Additionally, it appears that Blackmon entering his name into the draft was mainly to test the waters. Since he can't play 5-on-5, he can't participate in the combine, and instead has been shooting in front of and talking to teams individually. As the above quote shows, Blackmon will find it difficult to avoid returning to what appears to be a loaded Indiana roster in 2016-17. If Blackmon does return and fully embraces the leadership role he alluded to, it will only improve his future draft stock.

(H/T to Inside The Hall)

"After the Huskers play Illinois, they get a mid-week bye week themselves before heading to Bloomington, Indiana for the first time as a Football team to take on the Hoosiers in their Homecoming game, also scheduled for a 2:30 Central kickoff."

--Brian Towle, Corn Nation

Indiana's homecoming opponent this season will be Nebraska, slated for a 3:30 Eastern kickoff on October 15. The Hoosiers and Cornhuskers have not met since Nebraska became a member of the Big Ten. Indiana leads the all-time series 9-7-3. Additionally, it was announced yesterday that the Hoosiers game at Northwestern on October 22 will kick off at noon Eastern. Indiana still has nine kickoff times still to be announced.

"I believe Troy's going to be in that draft, I think he deserves to be in that draft. He’s done all that we’ve asked him to do. That’s his dream and he’s done a lot of good things for us, but at the same time, you’ve got to be able to move forward."

--Tom Crean via The Elkhart Truth

During a speaking engagement in Warsaw, Tom Crean sounded like he fully expects do-everything forward Troy Williams to remain in the draft. Crean reasoned that the recent signing of JUCO transfer Freddie McSwain was due to the fact that "we had to prepare for the loss of Troy". Williams is currently participating in the combine in Chicago, and has several visits scheduled with NBA teams. Even if Williams is to remain in the draft, the Hoosiers should still have an embarrassment of riches on the roster, something Crean noted: "I think we'll be bigger and I think we can be deeper".

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