Celtics give James Blackwell '91 a chance at NBA

by Steve Hoffman | 7/16/93 5:00am

For the third straight year, the Boston Celtics invited James Blackwell '91 to their rookie training camp, and for the first time they were impressed enough to ask him back for another look.

After the completion of this year's camp Wednesday, which is basically a try-out, the Celtics asked Blackwell, a six foot tall point guard, to join the team for a nine-day summer league in New York where he will be further evaluated.

"He's a terrific defending guard. He can bother players at every level," Celtics Senior Executive Vice President Dave Gavitt '59 said.

Gavitt said he was impressed with Blackwell's intensity, quickness, passing and ball-handling skills, but added that he has concerns about Blackwell's outside shooting ability.

"There have always been a lot of questions about his shooting," Gavitt said.

Blackwell, a Division I all-star his senior year at Dartmouth, also led the Ivy League in overall scoring and steals, averaging 19.3 points and 2.1 steals per game. He was the Big Green's MVP during his junior and senior years.

Blackwell could not be reached for comment.

The Celtics have been following Blackwell's progress closely over the years, having invited the Dartmouth guard to their rookie camp the summer before his senior year.

Since graduating, Blackwell has bounced around from team to team in both the Continental Basketball Association (CBA) and the Global Basketball League. He finished last season with the CBA's Capitol Region Pontiacs, where he started in 17 out of 32 games and averaged 13.3 points, 6.2 assists and 2.4 rebounds per game, according to Mike Shank, an intern in the Celtics public relations office.

"James has really stuck with it since he left here," said Dartmouth Coach David Faucher, an assistant coach while Blackwell played for the Big Green. "He's really worked hard and is totally committed to doing this."

Faucher said Blackwell has improved his shooting and believes he is capable of playing in the NBA.

"He's one of those kids who physically has the talent," Faucher said. "He's very close to making it in the NBA. If he gets in the right situation, I think he could have himself a career."

"He's relentlessly aggressive at both ends of the court," Faucher said. "He's an NBA defender."

Gavitt agreed that Blackwell is on the border of having what it takes to play in the NBA but would not speculate on his chances of making the Celtics. "It's hard to say," Gavitt said.

But Gavitt said playing in the summer league will give other teams a chance to evaluate Blackwell's potential.

"We all scout each other," Gavitt said. "It will be a good experience for him."

The New York Knicks, New Jersey Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks and Washington Bullets will also send teams to this summer league, which starts today and runs through July 25, Shank said.

The Celtics recently drafted Acie Earl, a six foot 11 inch center from Iowa and signed Dino Radja, another big man, most likely leaving the Celtics with one roster opening that they are likely to fill with a guard.

"Blackwell is perfect for a team looking for a back-up point guard," Faucher said.

But Blackwell faces tough competition. NBA veterans Chris Corchiani and Brian Oliver, and Nadav Henefeld, an Israeli from the University of Connecticut, are among the other prospects who will play for the Celtics in New York, Shank said.

Earl and Celtic veterans Ed Pinckney, Alaa Abdelnaby and Lorenzo Williams will also play for the Celtics in the summer league.

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