Jordan Wells / TheHoosier.com
Four IU men's basketball players will turn pro.
Junior guards James Blackmon Jr. and Robert Johnson, sophomore forward OG Anunoby and sophomore center Thomas Bryant will enter their names into consideration for the 2017 NBA Draft, the program announced Tuesday evening. Blackmon, Johnson and Bryant will not hire an agent, allowing them to maintain their NCAA eligibility and return to school if they so choose. Anunoby will hire an agent and forfeit his remaining eligibility.
“These four young men all have unique talents and we support them in their decisions,” IU head coach Archie Miller said in a statement. “We congratulate O.G. and hope that James, Robert and Thomas can benefit from this and make the best decision that will have a lifelong impact. As the semester winds down, we will continue to help them in any way with our priority being they continue their commitment to their academics and all eventually become Indiana University graduates.”
Blackmon averaged a team-high 17 points per game and became the 50th player in program history score more than 1,000 career points. His efforts earned him Third Team All-Big Ten recognition by media covering the conference, All-Big Ten Honorable Mention from conferences coaches and distinction as one of 10 finalists for the 2017 Jerry West Award - given annually to the nation's top shooting guard.
"My ultimate goal has always been to play professionally and this is an opportunity I want to take advantage of,” Blackmon said in the same statement. “This is an important process and I am excited to take part in it.”
Johnson finished second on the team in scoring this past season, averaging 12.8 points per game. He also has 87 career starts under his belt, the most of any Hoosier declaring for the draft.
“I’m excited to go through this process and use this as a learning experience,” Johnson said. “Every player in college has the goal to compete at the highest level and I’m looking forward to what the future may hold.”
Bryant improved his scoring and rebounding average during his sophomore season, posting 12.6 points and 6.6 boards per game while playing in all 34 games this season. He's started in all 69 games he's played in his two seasons as a Hoosier so far.
“I’m going to put all my energy in getting the most out of this opportunity and see what the best decision will be for my future,” Bryant said. “I love IU and my teammates, but having the opportunity to play basketball for a living has always been my dream.”
Anunoby logged 11.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per game in his second season as a Hoosier. He started in 10 of the 16 games he played in before suffering a season-ending knee injury at Penn State on Jan. 18. Despite that setback, many NBA Draft analysts still project him to be a first-round pick this summer.
“I have enjoyed my time at Indiana and after thinking this over with my family, I believe this is the best decision for me personally,” Anunoby said. “I will always be grateful to Coach Crean, his staff, and especially my teammates for two of the best years of my life. I wish Coach Miller and the program the best of luck in the future.”
While Anunoby has sacrificed his remaining eligibility by signing with an agent, Blackmon, Bryant and Johnson all have the opportunity to return and must decide whether to do so or remain in the draft by May 24.
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