High Point Panthers

High Point v Ohio State
John Brown, Getty Images

Big South Preview: Can John Brown take down Coastal Carolina?

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Beginning in October and running up through November 13th, the first day of the regular season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2015-2016 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

Today, we are previewing the Big South Conference.

A month before the Big South Tournament started, seven teams were tied for first place in the conference standings. Once the tournament began, the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds were bounced in the quarterfinals. Despite all the parity and chaos in the league, the tournament champion remained the same.

Coastal Carolina is eyeing a third consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament in its final season in the Big South before moving to the Sun Belt Conference.

The Chanticleers bring back Elijah Wilson, the Big South Tournament MVP, point guard Shivaughn Wiggins and power forward Badou Diagne. That trio could make a three-peat possible. Coastal Carolina boasted one of the conference’s most efficient offenses and defenses, and tops in both offensive and defensive rebounding 2014-15. The production of graduating guards Warren Gillis and Josh Cameron won’t be easily replaced, but if they defend and crash the boards like they’ve done in the past, the Chanticleers will be in a good position when they host the Big South Tournament again in March.

Like the Chanticleers, many of the teams across the Big South have lost start players. Of the 15 players named to the all-conference teams last March, only two of them return this season.

One of them is High Point senior John Brown, the ultra-athletic and physically imposing forward. Through his first three years he’s averaged 18.5 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. He’s helped the Panthers win at least a share of the last three regular season titles, but has no NCAA tournament appearances to show for it. Click here and check out some of the dunks he’s thrown down over the years. Now imagine him playing on the first Thursday or Friday of the NCAA tournament. Fun, right? Surrounded by a cast of upperclassmen, Brown could finally get that shot this spring.

Winthrop graduated two double-digit scorers, including first-team selection Keon Moore. Keon Johnson will be the key holder over in a new-look perimeter that could feature not one, but two Division II transfers. Jimmy Gavin’s amazing journey was chronicled back in May. Roderick Perkins, a 6-foot-5 wing, was the second-leading scorer in all of D2 in 2013-14. Winthrop’s defense, rated as the most efficient in the Big South, returns a pair of shot-blockers — Xavier Cooks and Duby Okeke — the frontline. Zach Price, the former Louisville and Missouri big man, is eligible this season, as well.

Longwood could be a dangerous team, especially if the Lancers can get quality play from the back court. The Lancers have one conference’s best front courts. Shaquille Johnson is one of the league’s top athletes. Lotanna Nwogbo, the 6-foot-8 forward, is back after missing the last 17 games of conference play with a thumb ligament tear. In three full Big South contest, he was averaging 19.3 points and 12.0 boards per game. Gardner-Webb is dealing with the loss of Jerome Hill and Tyler Strange, but returns six of its top nine scorers, including Tyrell Nelson. Radford should be another potential sleeper. YaYa Anderson is joined by senior Rashun Davis and Cameron Jones, the potential breakout star of the league.

MORE: 2015-16 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule


  • Favorite: “In my mind, it would probably be High Point. There will be several teams that have really good players back, but High Point has several really good players back and John Brown has been one of the top players in the league for the last three years. Probably the team with the most experience, top to bottom, coming back is Coastal. I think they have four starters back, but I think they lose two really good players. On paper, as you look at it, Coastal makes sense to pick first.”
  • Sleeper: “I think a lot of people would say Longwood. I think they have a talented roster and they have a player on their team (Lotanna Nwogbo) I think a lot of people would talk about having a chance to be one of the better players in the league. He got hurt the second or third game in the conference season.”
  • Star to watch: “I’d say John Brown should be the favorite for preseason player of the year. There are a lot of good ones, but he’s definitely been really good for a long period of time. I think it starts with his motor and how hard he competes and how physical he is. He just stays after it every possession. He really plays so hard on both ends. He’s great at working at working on catching the ball at the rim and using his size and athleticism to score in the paint. Then he’ll get stuff in transition and on the offensive glass. He’s a monster.”


Brown, maybe the best dunker in all of college basketball, returns for his senior season after averaging 19.3 points and 6.0 rebounds per game in 2014-15. The 6-foot-8 nightmare matchup plays with a consistent motor. He understands angles and where to position himself on the floor in order to get easy buckets. Brown also creates opportunities for himself in the open floor and offensive glass.


  • Tyrell Nelson, Gardner-Webb: The 6-foot-7 center was top-10 in the Big South in both scoring and rebounding at 13.9 points and 6.5 rebounds a night.
  • Elijah Wilson, Coastal Carolina: Had a strong finish to last season, earning Big South Tournament MVP honors. The 6-foot-4 guard is the top returning scorer at 11.3 points per game.
  • Shaquille Johnson, Longwood: The best athlete in the conference not named John Brown, Johnson averaged 13.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.5 steals per game last season.
  • DeSean Murray, Presbyterian: The Blue Hose will rely heavily on the 6-foot-5 sophomore, who recorded five double-doubles during conference play last season.



1. Coastal Carolina
2. High Point
3. Winthrop
4. Longwood
5. Gardner-Webb
6. Radford
7. Charleston Southern
8. UNC Asheville
9. Campbell
10. Presbyterian
11. Liberty

John Brown with another ridiculous one-handed alley-oop dunk (VIDEO)

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The NFL season just ended five days ago, so I’ll forgive you if you’re just getting into the current college basketball season. That being said, this is John Brown, a junior forward from High Point University. He’s has his fair share of highlights.

For Brown, this might be his best dunk to date. He rolls off the ball screen as teammate Adam Weary is in the process of making the pass. Weary lobs it way too high, which would be a problem for any other player in the Big South, but not for John Brown.

There’s a reason why he was listed as the second best dunker in the nation heading into this season.


Pregame Shootaround: Important matchups in Atlantic 10, Big South highlight schedule

AP Photo/Skip Peterson
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Dayton at George Washington, 7:00 p.m. (ESPN2)

Dayton arrives in the nation’s capital one game out of first place in the Atlantic 10, setting up what is a very important game for both the Flyers and Colonials. At 6-3, Mike Lonergan’s team is two games behind VCU and they need a win to remain in the regular season title race. GW has some talented options in the front court, led by Kevin Larsen, but taking advantage of Dayton’s lack of size has been a task easier said than done for the majority of their opponents. The guard play should be solid, with the Flyers being led by Jordan Sibert and Scoochie Smith and GW countering with Joe McDonald and Kethan Savage.

MID-MAJOR GAME OF THE NIGHT: High Point at Coastal Carolina, 9:00 p.m. (ESPNU)

This is one of two quality matchups in the Big South tonight, with Charleston Southern visiting Radford in the other. Coastal Carolina, trails High Point and Radford by a game in the conference standings, and with Cliff Ellis’ team having already beaten High Point on New Year’s Eve a sweep of the season series would be a nice tiebreaker to own should they need it at the end of the regular season. Josh Cameron leads a balanced attack for the Chanticleers, who have five players averaging between 9.3 and 13.5 points per game. High Point is led by electric forward John Brown, who’s averaging 18.2 points per game and is one of the best finishers in college basketball.

WHO’S ON UPSET ALERT?: Iona (-11) vs. Siena, 7:00 p.m. (ESPNU)

This matchup changed when it was announced Friday afternoon that Iona junior guard A.J. English was suspended for his actions following the team’s win over Saint Peter’s last weekend. Without English, the Gaels will move forward with the talented duo of forward David Laury and freshman guard Shadrac Casimir. However, that could open the door for a Siena team that has struggled defensively at times this season. Not having to worry about English will help Jimmy Patsos’ team, and they’re facing an Iona squad that has its own issues defensively.


1. Yale looks to move to 5-0 in Ivy League play as they host Dartmouth. James Jones’ Bulldogs, led by forward Justin Sears, have limited opponents to 38.4% shooting in their four Ivy League games thus far.

2. Harvard (3-1) looks to remain on the Bulldogs’ heels as they visit Brown, with a matchup with Yale scheduled for Saturday night. With the Crimson having already lost a conference game, they can’t afford to lose to the Bears. 2-1 Princeton visits Columbia in another key Ivy League matchup.

3. Charleston Southern visits Radford in the other key Big South tilt, with the Highlanders tied with High Point for first place and Bucs a game back. Radford’s won eight straight, with forward Javonte Green (15.2 ppg, 8.6 rpg) leading the way.

4. North Florida, tied atop the Atlantic Sun standings with FGCU, looks to move to 7-1 as they take on Jacksonville. Matt Driscoll’s Ospreys won the first meeting by 23 (86-63) January 10, shooting 50 percent from the field with Dallas Moore scoring a game-high 20 points.

5. Another key game in the MAAC is 7-5 Canisius visiting 8-4 Manhattan, with the top six teams in the conference moving directly into the quarterfinals of next month’s conference tournament. Manhattan, which still has two games to play against first place Iona, still has hopes of making a run at the regular season title.