Category: Boys Basketball

VIDEO: Virginia Tech signee Andre Gordon throws down in-game 360 slam

There are emphatic dunks, and then there is Andre Gordon’s dunk fest-quality slam that you see below.
Gordon, a 6-foot-2 combo guard who went from Sidney (Ohio) High School to Huntington Prep (W.Va.) and back again, is a Virginia Tech signee and a freakish two-sport athlete. In one of his final regular season contests for Sidney, a victory at Piqua (Ohio) High School, Gordon got the ball on the break and elevated for what can only be called a signature slam: A bona fide 360, smooth as butter.

THAT WAS SMOOTH AF @20dre (via @TopBillingSport)
— Overtime (@overtime) February 14, 2019

There are very, very few student-athletes who can throw down a dunk like that. Gordon is one, and Virginia Tech fans should be very excited that he’s on the way next season.

Fireworks almost ended career of top 2020 Tennessee basketball recruit before it began

Keon Johnson is the best high school basketball player in Tennessee for next year’s recruiting class.
A fireworks incident three years almost ended his playing career before it tipped off. However, that accident has changed his mindset and helped refocus his priorities.
Johnson, now a 16-year-old  junior at the Webb School (Bell Buckle, Tenn.), doesn’t remember all the details of that day. Then 13, he dropped a firework explosive into the mortar and lit the fuse. Only the fuse was short and it went off.
He was thrown about 10 feet and knocked out. His left, non-shooting hand, took the brunt of the blast.
“I was in the ambulance and they were saying they may have to amputate my hand,” Johnson said. “The fuse was short. I was just lighting it in the mortar and the fuse went real quick.”

More Boys Basketball!VIDEO: Virginia Tech signee Andre Gordon throws down in-game 360 slamTo his sick sister, Lee's (Montgomery, Ala.) Demond Robinson simply ‘Bro-bro’
Three years later, Johnson is the No. 8 point guard in the country and No. 32 overall prospect according to the 247Sports Composite for the Class of 2020. The 6-foot-5, 180-pound junior has offers that include Auburn, Florida, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Virginia.
He said he likely won’t announce his college decision until just before his senior season at Webb.
“I don’t want to make a decision anytime soon because I have another big summer ahead, ” said Johnson, who averages 25.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists this year.
But the fireworks incident served as a wakeup call for him.
Johnson had pins placed in his left hand. He has full range of motion in it.
“That incident was an eye-opener for me,” Johnson said. “If something did go bad and I didn’t have a hand, what could I do?”
Webb’s Keon Johnson (23), JJ Platt (3). and Jordan Jenkins (13) reacts to a called foul against BGA during the second half at Christ Presbyterian Academy in Nashville, Tenn., Friday, Feb. 8, 2019. (Photo: Andrew Nelles/The Tennessean)
What Keon Johnson means to Webb School
The Webb School, located in Bell Buckle, has 303 students at the school from sixth grade through high school.
Johnson stands out on campus, especially to the younger pupils.
He often hangs out with the middle schoolers, having lunch with them.
“They will be like, ‘Man I got to eat with him,’” said Webb coach Jeff Mitchell.
Johnson doesn’t look at it that way. He remembers what it was like when he was their age.
“He is the big man on campus,” Webb athletic director Scott Dorsett said. “But he is not that kind of guy.
“He’s not going to run to the limelight. Everybody is like, ‘He’s the big brother.’”
A big brother with a big college basketball future.

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The talk at lunch always eventually turns to basketball. His younger classmates like to give their opinion on where the top basketball prospect in Webb history should attend.
“We’ve got a lot of Tennessee fans on our campus,” said Johnson, with a laugh. “Let’s just say they have a lot of on-campus recruiters.”
He’s especially close to assistant coach James Garcia’s family. Garcia’s wife, Mallory, helps tutor Johnson.
“Their children Cadence, Asher and Nolan love Keon,” said Conswella Johnson, Keon’s mother. “Keon recently babysat for the Garcias on a Friday night so that they could attend the Bells and Buckles Gala.”
Webb’s Keon Johnson (23) shoots against BGA during the second half at Christ Presbyterian Academy in Nashville, Tenn., Friday, Feb. 8, 2019. (Photo: Andrew Nelles/The Tennessean)
Fishing best sport
If Keon Johnson isn’t on the basketball court in the summer he’s most likely at an area lake. He fishes often with his grandparents Robert and Elaine Johnson and dad, Keith.
On Mondays, they go to Wheeler Dam in Alabama and fish for crappie.
He’s told Dorsett he’d captain a bass fishing team if Webb would start one.
“Ever since I was a little kid my dad and granddad would say, ‘Hey, you can get out of school if you want to go fishing with us,’” said Johnson, who has a 35-pound flathead catfish in his family’s freezer and is the biggest fish he’s caught. “That started my passion at a very early age.
“We’re catching crappie … Catch and grease, that’s what we call it.”

South Central (NC) is making noise on the national scene with homegrown talent

WINTERVILLE, N.C. – Every time, without fail, Day’Ron Sharpe walks into the Zaxby’s just off of South Memorial Drive in Winterville, North Carolina, the front desk employees blurt out “Kickin’ Chicken meal” before he can even get a chance to decide on whether he’s going to be a creature of habit.
“They already know,” Sharpe said. “That’s how it is here; it’s a small town and everyone knows everyone, mostly.”
Winterville sits roughly seven miles from the vivacious college town that is Greenville, North Carolina, home of the East Carolina Pirates, but it might as well be clear across the country.
“There’s not a whole lot to do, but it’s home,” Shykeim Phillips said. “It’s quiet here.”
The irony is that Sharpe, Phillips and the rest of Winterville’s high school basketball team – the South Central Falcons – are making a deafening noise on the national scene this season.
Day’Ron Sharpe has been dominant all season. (Photo: John Wall Holiday Invitational)
“We’re putting on for the town and we’re all homegrown so there’s more pride with us,” said Sharpe, a junior forward. “It feels great to be getting all of this attention nationally. Everyone around the city is supporting us and encouraging us. It’s a big thing around here.”
The Falcons debuted in the USA Today Super 25 at No. 23 on Dec. 31 after taking then No. 4 Ranney School (Tinton Falls, N.J.) down to the wire in the prestigious John Wall Holiday Invitational title game.
“That still bothers me that we didn’t win that one,” said Sharpe, a North Carolina commit who is averaging 16.2 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.1 blocks a game. “We were up the whole game and fell at the end. That one hurt.”
It’s a familiar emotion for Sharpe and the Falcons the last two years, after putting together dominant regular seasons and falling on their way to the coveted state title.
Still, Phillips said that the he and his teammates don’t worry about history repeating itself for a third-straight season, despite the similarities.
“It’s something that motivates us,” said Phillips, a senior point guard who is averaging 17 points, 3.6 assists and 3.1 steals a game. “We’re not thinking that just because this season is going the way the last two seasons went that it will end like that. Honestly, this season isn’t like those seasons at all. We’re nationally ranked now, and we’ve never been ranked before.”
The Falcons check in at No. 6 overall in the latest Super 25 poll.
That status has added significant attention for the Falcons, especially on social media.
Phillips said he’s added 3,000 followers since the Falcons debuted in the Super 25, Sharpe has added 1,500.
South Central has also seen a 20 percent spike in ticket sales for home games this season.
“It’s been pretty crazy,” Phillips said. “I’m just trying to enjoy this time because I know it only comes around once, but the biggest thing is to keep working hard; that’s what got us here.”
That and locking up defensively.

FULL HIGHLIGHTS ( @Hoopcoach88
— StreetzDotNation (@StreetzDotNaion) January 4, 2019

In 2019, the Falcons’ average margin of victory is 38.4 points per game.
This season they’re only allowing opponents 41 points per game, they’re managing 5.5 blocks per game and swiping 12 steals per game.
“Defense is our foundation, there’s no doubt about it,” South Central coach Chris Cherry said. “We keep things basic in our defensive preparation, but we execute everything to perfection or we keep doing it until we do. There’s more praise for defense and everyone’s buying in. The guys are just a lot more mature this year.”
Sharpe added that another difference between this season and the last two is the urgency he feels with eight seniors on the roster. The Falcons have just two regular season games left before starting the playoffs. Their average margin of victory this season over their final two opponents is 27.5 points per game.
“We have to get it done this year,” Sharpe said. “We’ll have a chance next year, but this is the year we’ve got the best chance.”
If the Falcons were to go on and win the state title, they would have a chance at an even bigger prize –
The GEICO Nationals title, but the North Carolina High School Athletic Association does not allow its schools to participate in GEICO Nationals, which runs from April 4-6 in New York. The Falcons would have been a lock to earn a berth.
“That’s crazy,” Phillips said. “We’ve got to do something about that. Our confidence is really high this year and we know that we can play with any team in the country. Hopefully, we can make it happen, but before we can think about that we have to focus on winning states. We don’t want all of this to be for nothing. We want this to be the year it all comes together.”
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY

Super 25 Regional Boys Basketball Rankings: Week 10

USA TODAY High School Sports will make Super 25 Regional Rankings for boys basketball this season as selected by the USA TODAY High School Sports staff with weekly rankings in five regions — Northeast, Midwest, South, Frontier and Pacific.
RELATED: Super 25 Boys Basketball Rankings
Results are through Feb. 10
Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, District of Columbia, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Maine.

Long Island Lutheran, Glen Head, N.Y. (19-2)
DeMatha, Hyattsville, Md. (23-3)
Ranney, Tinton Falls, N.J. (20-3)
Roselle Catholic, Roselle, N.J. (21-3)
Abington, Pa. (23-1)
Imhotep Charter, Philadelphia (17-5)
St. Frances Academy, Baltimore (29-4)
Kennedy Catholic, Hermitage, Pa. (17-3)
Cardinal Hayes, Bronx, N.Y. (16-2)
Gill St. Bernard’s, Gladstone, N.J. (18-4)

Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, and Louisiana.

McEachern High School, Powder Springs, Ga., (27-0)
Montverde Academy, Fla. (21-2)
IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla. (26-1)
Mountain Brook High School, Ala. (27-3)
South Central High School, Winterville, N.C. (21-1)
Oak Hill Academy, Mouth of Wilson, Va. (26-3)
Cox Mill High School, Concord, N.C. (21-1)
Charlotte Christian School, Charlotte, N.C. (27-1)
Millbrook High School, Raleigh, N.C. (23-0)
University School, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (20-4)

Ohio, Michigan, Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

La Lumiere, La Porte, Ind. (26-0)
Nicolet, Milwaukee, Wisc. (17-1)
Curie, Chicago, Ill. (27-1)
Scott County, Georgetown, Ky. (27-1)
Warren Central, Indianapolis, Ind. (20-1)
Huntington Prep, W. Va. (18-3)
Pickerington Central, Ohio (20-1)
Carmel, Ind. (17-1)
Coffman, Ohio (19-0)
Morgan Park, Chicago Ill. (23-3)

Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.

Wasatch Academy, Mt. Pleasant, Utah (24-3)
Sunrise Christian Academy, Bel Aire, Kan. (17-5)
Denton Guyer, Texas (32-4)
Mansfield Timberview, Texas (30-2)
Westlake, Austin, Texas (30-3)
Baptist Prep, West Little Rock, Ark. (24-3)
Pleasant Grove, Utah (18-2)
Edmond Memorial, Okla. (20-1)
Blue Valley Northwest, Kansas (19-3)
Chaparral, Parker, Colo. (18-3)

California, Arizona, Nevada, Washington, Hawaii, Oregon, Alaska.

Federal Way, Wash. (20-2)
Sierra Canyon, Chatsworth, Calif. (25-3)
Rancho Christian, Temecula, Calif. (24-5)
Shadow Mountain, Phoenix (22-3)
Rainier Beach, Seattle (16-4)
Bella Vista Prep, Cave Creek, Ariz. (22-5)
Pinnacle, Phoenix (23-3)
  Centennial, Corona, Calif. (26-3)
Salesian College Prep, Richmond, Calif. (27-0)
Fairfax, Los Angeles (25-1)

GEICO Nationals field is beginning to take shape

We’re less than two months away from opening tip at the GEICO Nationals, which will run April 4-6 at Christ the King High School (Middle Village, N.Y.) and as teams scramble to beef-up their resumes in hopes of earning a bid in the final weeks of the regular season and playoffs, the picture of the eight-team field is becoming clearer.
Of the states that allow teams to participate in GEICO Nationals – Florida, Georgia, Arizona, Hawaii, Washington, District of Columbia, Utah, North Carolina (private schools) and Maryland (private schools) – here are who we’re projecting as locks.
No. 1 seed: La Lumiere School (La Porte, Ind.)
No. 2 seed: McEachern High School (Powder Springs, Ga.)
No. 3 seed: Montverde (Fla.) Academy
No. 4 seed: IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)
No. 5 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.)
Sharife Cooper, of McEachern, drives to the net during the championship game against Sunrise Christian Academy at the Bass Pro Shops Tournament of Champions at JQH Arena on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019.Andrew Jansen/News-Leader
Of our projected locks, McEachern is the only school that’s pursuing a state title in one of the toughest states in the country.
The logical question is: If the Indians stumble on their quest, would GEICO Nationals still take them in April?
It would be the first time in the tournament’s history that it would take a school that didn’t win its state title.
The answer would have to be a resounding yes.
The reality is that McEachern could make a strong case at being No. 1 because its body of work is so strong with seven convincing wins over Super 25 teams this season.
After those five there are a handful of teams on the bubble like Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.), Federal Way (Wash.) High School, Rainier Beach High School (Seattle), Wasatch Academy (Mount Pleasant, Utah), University School (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) and Bishop Gorman High School (Las Vegas).
In the past, GEICO Nationals has taken he North Carolina private schools champion, but they haven’t traditionally fared well, going 1-7 in the event. If GEICO Nationals opted to take a school from North Carolina, Christ School (Arden, N.C.) or Caramel Christian School (Matthews, N.C.) would likely get the nod.
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY

Mountain Brook (Ala.) in top five, Abington (Pa.) makes its debut in new Super 25

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The top two teams held their spots with convincing wins, Montverde (Fla.) Academy jumped to No. 3 after destroying two Super 25 teams this past weekend, first a 65-41 win over then No. 19 Roselle (N.J.) Catholic School and then an 89-51 win over then No. 11 Ranney School (Tinton Falls, N.J.).
FULL RANKINGS: Super 25 Boys Basketball Rankings
DeMatha Catholic High School (Hyattsville, Md.) dropped out of the top 10 after a 65-58 loss to Gonzaga College High School (Washington, D.C.).
That opened the door for Mountain Brook (Ala.) High School to make its debut in the top five.
Long Island Lutheran High School (Brookville, N.Y.) continued its impressive run with three strong wins last week, including a dramatic buzzer beater to sink Gill St. Bernard’s High School (Gladstone, N.J.).
As a result, the Crusaders jumped from No. 15 to No. 10 this week.
Abington (Penn.) High School made its debut in the Super 25 this week, checking in at No. 24.

Chosen 25 SG Anthony Edwards commits to Georgia

When news began to leak that Holy Spirit Prep (Atlanta) shooting guard Anthony Edwards cancelled his official visit to Florida State this past weekend, it raised eyebrows as his decision loomed a day after he was due to return.
On Monday the world found out why when Edwards committed to Georgia over the Seminoles and Kentucky.
Edwards, who is ranked No. 2 overall in USA Today Sports’ Chosen 25 in 2019, is the Bulldogs’ highest ranked recruit ever and is widely regarded as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.
At 6-foot-5, Edwards scores efficiently at all three levels, is virtually impossible to keep out of the lane, knocks down threes from NBA range and is an elite athlete who finishes with ferocious dunks through contact.
This season, Edwards is averaging 26.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.1 steals a game.
Edwards is the Bulldogs’ third commit from the 2019 class, joining Chaminade-Madonna Prep (Hollywood, Fla.) wing Toumani Camara and Carver High School (Montgomery, Ala.) wing Jaykwon Walton.
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY

Player hospitalized after fight at Tennessee high school boys basketball game

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A fight after a boys basketball game between Adamsville and Scotts Hill left one player hospitalized Tuesday.
The brawl broke out as players were shaking hands. Spectators from the stands also came down onto the court and were involved.
Adamsville Principal Steve Killingsworth confirmed the incident via email and said a member of the Adamsville basketball team was taken to the hospital.
“The administrations of Adamsville and Scotts Hill are working together with local law enforcement and the TSSAA to investigate the incident,” Killingsworth said in the email. “Appropriate action will be taken once the investigation is complete.”

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Scotts Hill Principal Beverly Ivy declined to comment until the investigation was completed.
After a last-second shot by Scotts Hill to win, as three Lions players began celebrating and started to form a line to shake hands, an Adamsville player swung at a Scotts Hill player, according to the referee’s incident report filed with the TSSAA.
The report states that players started running toward one another after that swing, while coaches, fans, staff and parents were trying to separate them.
One official observed an Adamsville player lying on the ground near the Scotts Hill bench. The same official observed a Scotts Hill player walk toward the Adamsville player from the baseline side of the gym and kick the Adamsville player twice, according to the referee’s report. The referees didn’t know how the Adamsville player got on the floor, but it looked like the Adamsville player was having a seizure.
The Adamsville player was taken via ambulance to a hospital in Savannah, but he was alert and communicating.
The incident comes 11 days after three brawls happened during basketball games in Memphis, which included four boys basketball teams being suspended from postseason play for two years. Three of the four schools are appealing that decision.
Read the full report at the Jackson Sun.

Doyel: Blackford (Hartford City, Ind.) phenom Luke Brown leads state in scoring, lifts community

HARTFORD CITY – State scoring leader Luke Brown broke the scoreboard this season at Blackford High School. Literally, I’m saying, though they’re not sure when it happened. Could have been the game against Bluffton when he scored 44 points. Maybe when he had 39 against Mississinewa, including two 3-pointers in 12 seconds, the latter as he was falling out of bounds, the announcer screaming, “I don’t know what happened! My life just changed!”
Lives are changing around Hartford City, all right, and Luke Brown has done that. More on that in a moment. First, back to the scoreboard he broke against someone, though it wasn’t Elwood on Dec. 14. Brown scored 55 that night on 21-for-25 shooting – seriously – but it was on the road. Whenever it happened, it happened for this reason, and it’s the most Luke Brown story ever:
Blackford’s Luke Brown takes the ball down court on Dec. 2 during their game against Blue River. Blackford won the game 79-64. (Photo: Corey Ohlenkamp/The Star Press)

#SCtop10 This is a MUST SEE!!
— steve hurd (@ofchurd) January 12, 2019
In a town of 6,000, a gym that seats about 3,500 approaches capacity every time Blackford has a home game. It’s a circus, the way Luke Brown plays – never mind the 35.8 ppg; it’s the passing, the ball-handling, the Stephen Curry-like showmanship – and this community comes to watch. So do others. They come from Greensburg and Indianapolis and Greenwood, they fill the place, and the poor scoreboard they used to have? Couldn’t handle it.

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It was a bandwidth issue. The scoreboard was wireless, and with all those people watching, all those cell phones taking pictures and video of Luke Brown and sharing them on social media, the scoreboard just sort of … broke. Wasn’t reading the signals the operator was punching into the control board. Lagged behind by several seconds. Couldn’t keep up.
“They were great scoreboards when nobody was here!” says Blackford athletics director Tony Uggen.
Uggen is the ringmaster of this circus he calls “Luke-a-mania,” and he’s practically shouting because the whole thing is so exciting, so outrageous. Like this: One Blackford fan created a YouTube channel to stream games, attracting viewers from as far away as Vietnam and Australia. And this: An ESPN 30 for 30 director was at the Jay County game Jan. 26 for a project on the confluence of Blackford, Jerry Hoover and Luke Brown.
And this: Uggen had to purchase new scoreboards a few weeks ago. Those things aren’t cheap – about $10,000 for two – and the Blackford school district is like so many around Indiana: shrinking, losing its students and tax base. Already one of the state’s smallest Class 3A schools, Blackford expects to be moved to 2A next year, when it will close an elementary school and consolidate the junior high and high school. Money for a scoreboard? A year ago, before the circus came to town, Blackford couldn’t have considered it.
This time, Blackford wrote a check.
Oh, things have changed around here. At Blackford, a school that for years lost money during basketball season, huge crowds now generate more than $5,000 for every home game.
Luke Brown broke the old scoreboard, but I think it’s OK. He basically bought the new one.

Luke’s shooting display at shooting clinic

Blackford coach Jerry Hoover is telling his players why this game matters. It’s the same reason they all matter, more than winning and losing, but Hoover chose Tuesday, before Blackford played host to No. 5-ranked Class 3A foe Northwestern, to lay it out for them:
“Not all of these people have $5 to spend for a game, but they want to see you do well,” Hoover tells his team. “So give them a show.”
The crowd is here early, as always. People are lining up outside at 3:30 p.m. for a varsity game that starts at 7:30, and they weren’t even the first ones here. Earlier Tuesday, a handful of fans entered the gym to set up chairbacks on the bleachers, claiming their spot. The place is nearly full when the JV game ends at 7. The circus is about to start.
High up in the crowd, I’m sitting with Luke’s father, Ted Brown. He moved his family here last year from Brownsburg, following Hoover, a distant family relative and an Indiana Basketball Hall of Famer who was 83 when he made Blackford his ninth coaching stop. Jerry Hoover brought his son, Don, as an assistant, and Don’s son, J.D. Hoover, as the team’s second-best player. Luke was the best, averaging 27.8 ppg as a 5-11, 140-pound freshman in 2017-18 and helping Blackford – which had lost 61 straight games – to a 14-9 record. The Bruins are 12-4 this season.
Ted is telling me about Luke’s growth, that he’s 6-1 and nearly 160 pounds. He’s telling me about Luke’s obsession to get better. Just this morning, a game day, Luke was in the gym for an hour starting at 6:45 a.m.
Ted is telling me this as I watch Luke warm up. He’s pacing the court and bouncing the ball low and fast, no higher than his ankles, drum-rolling it off the hardwood: rat-a-tat-tat-tat-tat …
A year ago, Luke played just 15 games after suffering a stress injury near his right ankle. He used the time off to lift weights, getting his bench-press close to 200 pounds and adding bulk for the beating he endures every game. He sat in a chair and took shots. Then came the walking boot, and set shots. Every day.
Last summer Jerry Hoover conducted a coaching clinic at Noblesville, and he brought along Luke. With high school coaches around the state sitting in the bleachers, Hoover summoned Luke to the court to shoot 10 shots from five different spots behind the 3-point arc. As Hoover spoke, Luke took those 50 shots. In the bleachers, the coaches were counting.
Luke made 47 of 50.
Ted is telling me this as I watch his son start to shoot before the Northwestern game. He does it with a purpose, no 3-pointers, just a series of mid-range jumpers from either baseline. Back and forth he goes after every shot. It occurs to me Luke hasn’t missed in a while, so I start counting. No idea how many he’d hit before, but he makes the next 28.
Taking aim at Damon Bailey’s scoring record
He doesn’t score in the first quarter. Took just two shots, and missed both. Meanwhile, Northwestern has a star of its own, a 6-1 junior named Tayson Parker, and he’s going off: 15 points in the first quarter, on his way to 41. Parker is a high-level Division I recruit.

A closer look at Luke Brown’s potential at reaching Damon Bailey’s state career scoring mark. (Photo: Nat Newell/Indianapolis Star)
Luke Brown? They’re not sure yet. Depends on how much taller he gets, how much quicker, thicker, stronger. He has the offensive skill to play for any college team in the state, and I mean tomorrow, but who does he guard? They’re not sure yet, and on this night he’s scoreless in the first quarter and Northwestern is leading 27-12, well on its way to a 90-79 victory. The crowd, tracking Luke’s stats on the Blackford basketball app a student created, is murmuring.
The second quarter starts.
Brown is being double-teamed for 94 feet, and I realize how ridiculous that sounds. You should see how ridiculous it looks, but every opponent throws some sort of junk defense at him, like a triangle-and-two – the two players hound Brown – or this, doubling him the moment he gets the ball. Brown finds teammates with look-away passes that a year ago, last time I was here, had the crowd buzzing. Now the crowd is mostly silent when Brown zips a 50-foot, no-look pass to senior Mark White for a layup.
“He’s spoiled us,” says Brian Bade, a Circuit Court judge in Blackford County, a father and Blackford alum who coached the eighth-grade team a year ago.
Bade’s nodding and smiling as Luke starts to fill it up. Here’s his first bucket, a 10-footer off the glass in transition. Here’s his next one, a 3-pointer from the corner and a foul, which he converts; he’s shooting 95.3 percent at the line (141-for-148). Luke ends the second quarter with 10 points, has 23 after three and finishes with 34 on 11-for-22 shooting (5-for-9 on 3’s). With 989 points in 31 career games, he is averaging 31.9 ppg and needs only to stay healthy to challenge Damon Bailey’s all-time Indiana high school boys scoring record of 3,134.
The game ends and children rush the court. They want to touch Luke’s hand, and he gives them what they want on his way to the locker room, slapping palms and bumping fists with kids wearing his No. 25 jersey. Earlier in the day, the athletics director, Tony Uggen, had been telling me that “everyone and their brother wants to be No. 25 around here.”
After the game I’m telling Luke and his coach, Jerry Hoover, that they might need to retire No. 25 after Luke graduates – not because Luke is all that good, I say, teasing. But to avoid all that fighting over his number in the future. Luke is smiling and looking down, super nice and bashful. Hoover is smiling and about to tell me a story that will drive him to tears.
Men, children start to cry
Blackford’s Jerry Hoover talks to Luke Brown during the game against Jay County at Blackford High School Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019. (Photo: Jordan Kartholl / The Star Press)
The man was dying.
This was at IU Health Blackford Hospital. It was last month. Jerry Hoover is telling me this story, a story chronicled in the Muncie paper. An 83-year-old man unable to come to games anymore, watching them only on Blackford’s YouTube channel, was a big Luke Brown fan. Luke walked into his room.
“And the man started crying,” Hoover says, and now he has tears in his eyes. Luke is sitting with us, and he’s looking down. He knows that the man, Ted Paver, died four days later.
Hoover continues.
“All the other jobs I had, after my first one, it was: Get in, turn the program around, and get out. This is different,” Hoover says. “It matters so much to everybody. It matters to everybody. I can’t go into a restaurant without old ladies hugging me and men saying, ‘We’re glad you’re here.’ And Luke did that.
“This place has been through so much economic hardship. Factories and stores moving out, people moving away. I can’t comment on what happened before, but I can comment now that Luke is changing this community. He is. You can see the hope.”
Now Luke is looking up. First time all night, only time, he isn’t talking simply to answer a question. He’s talking because he needs to say this.
“He says I’m changing the community,” Luke begins. “But the kids that were playing when I got here, they went 1-and-60 or whatever it was, and I would have quit. I couldn’t have done it. But they didn’t quit. Seniors like Mark White, Nathan Brown, Drake (Ramseyer), (Brandon) Apple and the rest, they stuck it out and I admire that. And now they’re changing the community.”
Well, we can agree on this: The community is changing – half the town comes to games it once ignored, and many of them head afterward to Pizza King to relive it – and everyone has played a role. The Hoovers. The seniors. The rest of the team. The town. But it starts with Luke Brown, a player whose flair is exceeded only by his skill, and whose skill is exceeded only by his humility.

Blackford’s Luke Brown dribbles through traffic in the season opener against Cowan. The Bruins won 90-49. (Photo: Corey Ohlenkamp/Star Press)
Luke has seen the video on social media, a local kid in Hartford City opening a Christmas present, seeing a basketball, rolling it over in his hands until he spots the signature – Luke Brown – and starts crying. Brown is telling me how that feels, how it’s a reminder, “because if I’m rude to a kid, maybe he won’t want to play a sport. But if I’m encouraging, maybe he’ll want to be the next Steph Curry or whatever.”
The next … who? I’m telling Luke he knows exactly who kids in this town want to be. Everyone and his brother wants to wear No. 25. They want to be the next Luke Brown, and already there are scores of young kids showing up at the school gym early in the morning, before classes, to get up shots. Just like he does. Luke looks down. He doesn’t know what to say.
Jerry Hoover does.
“People tell me all the time how much it’s changed around here,” he says. “They used to have 1,200 students, and now they’re down to 500. They tell me: ‘We used to have a Sears. We used to have a Penney’s. We used to have a theater.’”
And now?
“And now they have Luke.”
Find Star columnist Gregg Doyel on Twitter at @GreggDoyelStar or at

Inside Nick Reid's 76-point night and the buzz that followed

CENTRAL CITY, Ia. — Right as Nick Reid exited the Central City basketball locker room Friday night, teammates started lobbing in the playful jabs.
“Thirty-seven, that’s it?” one player asked. “That’s weak.”
So it goes trying to follow up a performance that still has people talking.
A few days have passed since Reid dropped a staggering 76 points on East Buchanan in Monday’s overtime win, but the disbelief remains thick from all who witnessed it. Teammates, coaches, community members — all of them — gush relentlessly about that historic performance.
The amazement only lingered after Iowa’s brutal winter weather postponed Central City’s next two contests. It wasn’t until Friday that Reid was back on the court since delivering Iowa’s highest-scoring performance in 90-plus years.
A Division I assistant was in the stands, as were numerous Central City supporters hoping to witness greatness again. It’s clear now that Reid could produce something special at any given moment.
“The best thing about him is — yeah, he’s tall — but there are a lot of 6-foot-6 kids who can’t score the way he does,” Central City coach Tanner Carlson said after Reid scored only 37 in Friday’s win over Starmont. “Everything he’s gotten, he’s earned. He’s out in his driveway shoveling snow to shoot hoops.
“He’s a great kid, and our other kids have really rallied behind that. I think that’s why everyone has been so excited for him.”
That excitement likely won’t pass for some time. Here’s Reid and others to guide you through the memories:
Aside from Reid’s scoring prowess, it’s been a seesawing year for Central City. The Wildcats entered Monday having dropped nine of their last 11 after a 6-1 start. Finding a spark would be ideal heading into the postseason.
In an ideal storytelling world, there would be some grand tale about how Reid knew this was going to be his night early in the day — maybe he’d had the perfect breakfast or couldn’t miss in warmups.
Not so much.
“I was a little worried, going into the game,” Reid said this week. “I didn’t get my usual shootaround in.”

Central City junior Nick Reid poses for a photo with the game ball from the East Buchanan game where he scored 76 points, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019, in front of the basketball hoop he practices on at home in Central City, Iowa. (Photo: Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen)

Central City’s pregame itinerary included the 35-minute ride to East Buchannan. That meant Reid had to miss his afternoon college classes — but he also had to skip his normal pregame shootaround to catch the bus.
Knocking a player out of his routine can sometimes lead to futility.
Yeah, right.
First half
Central City actually started slowly in this one and faced a 22-13 deficit after the first quarter. It took a second for Reid to warm up.
“I was missing most of my shots in the first quarter, and my coach told me I was kind of rushing things,” Reid said. “So then I had to pull back and trust my teammates more than I was. I was just forcing up dumb shots, but then, once I started getting better looks, they started falling.
“That gave me more confidence.”
The Wildcats were within seven — 36-29 — at halftime. Reid had 24 points despite a pedestrian start from outside, but Central City would need another boost to avoid an upset. East Buchanan entered 2-13 in its last 15 games, including one defeat to Central City already last month.
“He was 25 points away from being the school’s all-time leading scorer as a junior, so I was hoping he’d get that to get that out of the way,” Carlson said. “His 24 in the first half seems like a lot, but it didn’t really feel like it.”
There wasn’t a ton of attention on Reid’s scoring output yet. The tight score kept everyone lost in the game.
That changed soon enough.
Second half
The gameplan became quite simple after the break. As Reid started piling up the points — 38 in the second half, including 23 in the fourth quarter — everyone knew what to do.
“It was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen,” teammate David Warrington said. “We’d just give it to him every time, and he’d just take it right past the defense. There was nothing they could do to stop him. He’d score just about every time.”
With such little resistance inside, Reid didn’t need to expand his game beyond the paint. Almost every possession looked like a replay from the previous.
Catch the ball, dribble into and through a crowd — then lay it up, nail a short jumper or head to the line. It was a clinic on consistency and poise.
“My dribbling was probably the best thing,” Reid said, “because I had to split through double teams to get to the basket. I wasn’t really settling for threes, which — I’m mainly a shooter — but I was attacking the basket at will at the end of the game.”
That is, until Central City needed a desperate trey.

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The Wildcats never found regulation separation even with the reliable offense. East Buchannan had a 72-69 lead with under 10 seconds to play — one stop away from withstanding the Reid storm.
Everyone knew where the ball was going.
Reid hadn’t hit a 3-pointer all night, but he calmly swished one from the top of the key with 3.4 seconds remaining to force overtime. The Central City bench erupted in jubilation. What’s an unforgettable performance without a little drama?
“It was amazing,” Reid said. “I was in the zone.”
Overtime & beyond
With 62 points heading into the extra session, Reid’s emphatic night was a secret no longer. The outcome was still in doubt, but that night had transformed into so much more.
East Buchannan had had enough. Reid poured in all 14 of Central City’s overtime points, including nine free throws to seal the 86-76 win.
“It was crazy to sit there and just watch it happen,” teammate TJ Ayers said. “The only thing I’ve heard of like anything like that is Wilt Chamberlain’s (100 points) and Kobe Bryant’s (81 points) — all NBA players. It’s crazy to see something like that here in small-town Iowa.”
Social media has its perks, and it showed in this moment. Reid’s ridiculous stat line — 76 points, 25-for-44 shooting, 24-for-27 from the line, 14 rebounds and four steals — quickly circulated on Twitter and Instagram. Carlson felt the impact before he’d even left the gym.
“I think my phone had 35, 40 messages from just random people who had already seen it on Twitter,” Carlson said. “In the fourth quarter, you could tell this was going to be a historic night.”
Outside the normal realm of Iowa high school basketball coverage, Reid landed a Peter Jok shoutout and a mention from Mars Reel — a national prep hoops entity with more than 16,000 Twitter followers.

Yo @Nicklausreid u a bad boy!!! 76 points??? Definitely built different! Keep it up killa
— Peter Jok (@Jok_City14) February 5, 2019
The buzz hadn’t slowed much by Friday. People will remember Reid’s 76 for a long, long time.