Shaquille Johnson

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

COACH’S TAKE

  • 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.”

PRESEASON BIG SOUTH PLAYER OF THE YEAR: John Brown, High Point

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.

THE REST OF THE PRESEASON BIG SOUTH TEAM:

  • 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.

ONE TWITTER FEED TO FOLLOW: @BigSouthMBB

PREDICTED FINISH

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

2014-2015 Season Preview: College Basketball’s Top 13 Dunkers (VIDEOS)

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source:
Michael Qualls, Arkansas (Getty Images)

Beginning on October 3rd and running up until November 14th, the first day of the season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2014-2015 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

MORE: 2014-2015 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

There are very few things in the sport basketball that can get fans out of their seats the way that a massive dunk can, which is why we’re here to help you. You want to know what games and what players to watch in case a freak athlete decides to take flight on some poor, unsuspecting defender that jumped? We’ve got you covered.

Here are college basketball’s best dunkers (with examples of why):

RELATED: 12 minutes of the best dunks from 2013-2014

1. Michael Qualls, Arkansas: Qualls is a 6-foot-6 wing that plays for Mike Anderson and Arkansas, meaning that he’ll have plenty of opportunities in the open floor with a lane to the rim. Qualls averaged 11.6 points last season, but he’s probably best known for the game-winning tip-dunk he had in a win over Kentucky. That wasn’t his best dunk, however:

2. John Brown, High Point: High Point isn’t exactly known for being a basketball powerhouse, but they managed to land one of the nation’s highest-flyers three years ago. Brown has been posterizing defenders for a long, long time in the Big South:

MORE: John Brown’s road from being a JV QB to the Big South Player of the Year

3. Sam Thompson, Ohio State: You know you’re a big-time dunker when you have a nickname that is a synonym for dunk: Slam Thompson. His specialty? Finishing alley-oops. Here’s what I mean:

4. Shaquille Johnson, Longwood: Johnson did not last long at Auburn, as he’s looking for a second chance to get his hoops career going with the Lancers. It may not actually happen for Johnson this season, but the former top 100 recruit still owns the most impressive mixtape I’ve seen:

5. Ike Nwamu, Mercer: Nwamu threw down one of the best dunks I’ve ever seen at the Mercer Midnight Madness. He dunks like that in games, too:

6. Keifer Sykes, Green Bay: Sykes is the smallest player on this list, but he may actually be the best leaper. How many players do you know that can throw an alley-oop to themselves?:

RELATED: NBCSports.com’s Mid-Major All-Americans

7. Troy Williams, Indiana: Williams entered college with the reputation of being one of the best dunkers in high school basketball, but his freshmen season yielded surprisingly few posterizations. That should change this season, as Williams is a year older, stronger and better and the Hoosiers will be looking to play a more uptempo, spread out style.

8. J.P. Tokoto, North Carolina: Tokoto is a high-flying wing for the Tar Heels, and while his lack of a jump shot means he’s a long way away from being more than an athlete and an energy at this point, he should be a nice compliment alongside Marcus Paige and Justin Jackson. And given Roy Williams’ tendency to push tempo, don’t be surprised to see Tokoto constantly making the highlight reel.

9. Deuce Bello, Missouri: Bello is a high-flying shooting guard that was a favorite of the mixtape guys during his time in high school. But he was never able to catch on with Baylor, and eventually transferred to Missouri before sitting out the 2013-2014 season. You don’t just lose hops like this, though.

10. Montrezl Harrell, Louisville: There is nothing pretty about Harrell. His game is entirely centered

11. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Arizona: Hollis-Jefferson is a unique player, an explosive, entertainingly athletic wing that attacks the glass, is a terror defensively and is a more-than-capable passer. He could have been a first round pick if he left school after last season, but he returned to school and is a jump shot away from being in the 2015 lottery. In the meantime, let’s hope he keeps doing this.

12. Javonte Douglas, Old Dominion: He’s a JuCo transfer, but I promise you know who he is:

13. Cliff Alexander, Kansas: Alexander may not end up being the player that Montrezl Harrell is this season, and he may not end up being a major part of Bill Self’s offensive attack, but the Jayhawk big man will dunk anything and everything around the rim.

BEST OF THE REST:

  • Kethan Savage, George Washington: A broken foot kept Savage out for much of the end of last season, but that hasn’t hurt his explosiveness.
  • Chris McCullough, Syracuse: McCullough is the latest in a long line of lanky athletes playing for Jim Boeheim.
  • Deonte Burton, Marquette: Burton threw down what might have been the Dunk of the Year last season.
  • Norman Powell, UCLA: Powell will have a chance to play a bigger role in the offense this season with all of the pieces the Bruins lost. Will that leads to more of this?
  • Dez Wells, Maryland: Wells had an off-year from a dunking perspective this past season.
  • Damarius Smith, Austin Peay: He should probably be higher. This is ridiculous.
  • Tekele Cotton, Wichita State: Cotton is the least-known member of the Shocker perimeter, but that’ll change if he keeps posterizing defenders.

Longwood’s Shaquille Johnson arrested after reportedly getting into a fight after dance battle

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Longwood junior wing Shaquille Johnson is perhaps best known for a fantastic high school mixtape that shows off his dunking prowess and tremendous hops.

But the former Auburn Tiger has also found some trouble during his career and Johnson was arrested earlier this month and charged with felony malicious wounding after an incident that occurred at a party in Farmville, VA on August 31.

According to a story from Travis Lyles of the Longwood Rotunda, Johnson was arrested on September 9th.

Farmville Police Chief Doug Mooney said that the altercation “stemmed from a dance off competition between Johnson and Hampden Sydney College student Aaron Doman.”

The Rotunda story states: “Mooney speculates Johnson was angered, or unhappy about the conclusion of the dance off and then allegedly struck Doman in the mouth knocking out several of his teeth. Doman was taken to the hospital shortly after the altercation.”

Mooney also said in the story that, “it was obvious there was an injury caused by a punch, and there was no retaliation from the victim.”

So, Shaquille Johnson is facing a felony charge over a dance battle at a party.

Johnson was in some trouble before from his time at Auburn. He was dismissed from the Auburn program for an arrest stemming from possession of marijuana and ended up at Northwest Florida State.

Johnson is now in his first season at Longwood and hasn’t played a game for the Lancers.

Longwood released a statement on the matter to the Rotunda:

“Shaquille is in school now and going about his business as a Longwood student and student-athlete as he should,” Assistant VP for Athletics Communications, Chris Cook, said to the Rotunda. “With respect to due process and the privacy that should be given to both parties, we will await further details on the matter before commenting any further. He is still a member of the basketball team and he has our full support.”

Johnson’s court hearing is scheduled for October 27.