On Saturday night I was surprised to find myself watching not one, but three possible future Purdue players. Since I regularly cover games for the Zionsville Times-Sentinel I am going to see Isaiah Thompson, the younger brother of P.J. Thompson, all season long. Tonight the freshman struggled, missing 10 of his first 11 shots, but he still had 15 fourth quarter points and 19 overall as Zionsville beat Marion 80-70.
On Marion, however, there are a pair of seniors that Purdue has at least shown an interest in, and that is who this post is about.
Vijay Blackmon - Blackmon is the younger brother of Indiana's James Blackmon and the son of Marion coach James Blackmon Sr. he is a senior, making him a 2016 prospect that has drawn some decent interest here in the Midwest. Officially he only has an offer from Indiana according to ESPN. Both Rivals and ESPN say that Purdue has shown some interest, however, so I thought I would write about him.
Blackmon is 6'2" guard that is a decent shooter like his older brother. Both this season and last he has averaged 20+ points per game and when he played with his brother two years ago he averaged12.4 points. Those are some pretty good numbers, especially for a program such as Marion, which has seven state championships in its rich history.
After seeing him play, however, I don't think he is going to be a good fit for Purdue at all. He was 7of 15 from the floor and finished with 18 points, but his shot selection was awful. I had him 3 of 8 from three, but there were far too many times he pulled up and jacked an ill-advised three. He has good range and can hit shots if he is open, but he is too prone to take the long three with a guy in his face. Yeah, he might get away with that at the high school level, but not in the Big Ten.
He is pretty athletic though. He can get to the basket if he wants and he rebounds well for his size. He is a lot like his brother in that way. He is also like his brother in that his defense is questionable and he shows his emotions quite a bit. If things aren't going his way, he checks out too. Zionsville won this game because several calls went their way in crunch time. It was 68-66 with two minutes left and Marion had the ball. One defensive stop led to a breakaway layup, and Blackmon pretty much checked out. Yes, he had four fouls at the time and needed to be careful, but even then, his defense was poor.
There is no question he has talent, but I don't think he would be a good fit at all for Purdue.
Reggie Jones - To me, the far more intriguing prospect was small forward Reggie Jones. Jones is also a 2016 Prospect and he holds an offer from UMKC, but he still is getting interest from both Butler and Purdue. Both ESPN and Rivals have him a strong three star. He is listed as a 6'6" small forward and I really liked his game.
Jones is a strongly built small forward and in this game he finished with 24 points on 9 of 17 shooting. I also had him for 6 rebounds and he was 3 of 5 from three. He ended up fouling out of the game with his final foul being a technical for arguing a call. He wasn't a severe reaction, but a call went against Marion with less than three minutes left and he threw the ball against the wall.
To me, Jones played a much smarter game than Blackmon. He showed his range and took more calculated threes, hitting three of them. He also was not afraid to bang in the paint. He could be a good team player that can play inside-out for a stretch. I didn't notice his defense much, but in an 80-70 game over just 32 minutes there is not much defense played on either side.
One of the things I noticed about Jones is that he played with confident strength. His moves were very sure and he knew where he wanted to go when he had the basketball. He had talent, but he was calculating with that talent, whereas Blackmon was pretty much waiting to jack a three without thinking.
Of the two players I would much rather have Jones. He seemed more polished and I think he could fit in as a complimentary player that can contribute, whereas Blackmon thinks he is the star and clearly wants to be the star. That's not how Purdue has ever worked.