His goal was simple: Play well and earn a scholarship.
Sure enough, C.J. Blackwell stuck to the plan over the course of his recent senior season as a member of the Woodland Hills Taft High boys' basketball team. Accordingly, interest in the 6-foot-5 wing never wavered as Division I programs kept a watchful eye on him throughout.
The recruiting process, however, came to an end Thursday afternoon. Blackwell ended up committing to nearby Loyola Marymount (LMU), choosing the Lions despite having been in contact with several schools, among them being Florida State, Virginia Tech and Wisconsin.
“I felt that Loyola Marymount was the best fit for me, it's close to home and my family can see me play in college, that was most important,'' Blackwell said.
Blackwell was instrumental in guiding Taft to a Los Angeles City Section title and a No.4 finish in the ESPNLosAngeles.com top 20 rankings. He shot 50 percent from the field, 42 percent from beyond the 3-point arc and averaged 13.1 points and 9.1 rebounds per game.
In addition, Blackwell compared rather favorably to some of the premier players that the Southland had to offer. Listed as a power forward by ESPNU, he ranks right up there with peers such as Los Angeles Price's Norvel Pelle, Long Beach Poly's Ryan Anderson, Los Angeles Windward's Wesley Saunders and North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake's Damiene Cain.
Blackwell figures to play the small forward for the Lions.
“The coaching staff over at LMU said I would have a chance to play right away, but I know nothing is going to be handed to me,'' Blackwell said. “My focus was to work hard this season, I knew that if I did that, things would fall into place me for me. And they did. Now, in college, I know that I'm going to have to so the same thing. I'm ready to get back to work.''
Sean Ceglinsky covers preps for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.