Blackford High School star Luke Brown, one of the most prolific scorers in Indiana high school history, announced Saturday night that he is "100% committed'' to play at Stetson University in DeLand, Fla., next season.
Brown has been the leading scorer in the state the past two years, scoring 2,016 points despite missing games as a sophomore with a leg injury. He averaged 32.3 points per game a year ago, and 35.0 as a sophomore.
Despite the outrageous scoring numbers, the big state schools watched him but weren't interested in offering. Indiana, Purdue, Butler and Notre Dame stayed silent. Ball State and Indiana State have offered, but melding with a coaching staff mattered most to him.
Moving away might have mattered, too.
“My biggest thing was falling in love with the coaching staff,” Brown told Gregg Doyel of the Indianapolis Star. “Like how I went to Blackford to play for Jerry Hoover. I really liked him and how he believed in me, and I felt like Coach Jones really believes in me and wants me to succeed.
"I just feel like they’re trying to build a program there. That’s huge for me. I’ve been an underdog my whole life, and they’re taking this quote-unquote ‘underdog’ type of school and trying to turn it into a Gonzaga or a St. Mary’s. I’d love to get to be a part of that and play hopefully a good role.”
Brown knows all about being an underdog. He's an undersized 6-foot-1 guard with tremendous shooting and passing skills. The big boys, who have watched him play a lot, both at Blackford and on the AAU circuit, are taking a pass.
Fan bases, especially at Purdue and Indiana, often wonder why. People talk all the time about needing shooters, and Brown is the best shooter to come out of the state of Indiana in a long time.
But there are many experts who consider him to be nothing more than a good high school player. 247Sports.com, whose player rankings are considered important in the game, doesn't even have any stars on Brown. They have 232 players across the country ranked in the 2021 class and Brown isn't one of them. That includes 12 players in Indiana, none of whom have scored as many points as Brown.
What Brown has done at Blackford is amazing. He joined Jerry Hoover there, and Hoover is a coaching legend in the state. He has coached at the Demotte, Salem, North Judson, Lake Central, Ben Davis, Monrovia, Kankakee Valley and Blackford boys programs, the Andrean and Logansport girls programs and as an assistant coach at Indiana State University and St. Joseph’s College.
He coached Indiana star Randy Wittman at Ben Davis in the late 1970s, and coached Indiana Miss Basketball Whitney Jennings at Logansport. Hoover and Brown showed up at Blackford together -- thanks to some family ties -- and have gone 14-9, 17-6 and 21-5 in three years, a combined 52-20.
Prior to their arrival, Blackford had one of the worst basketball programs in the state. They went 1-22, 0-23 and 0-24 in the previous three seasons and had lost 61 games in a row.
Brown has a chance to finish in the top-5 in all-time scoring provided his senior season doesn't get disrupted by injury or pandemic.
Stetson plays in the A-Sun and is rebuilding its basketball program as well. Donnie Jones is the head coach and the Hatters went 16-17 last year and finished tied for third (9-7) in the league despite being picked to finish last.
Jones had two freshmen All-Americans a year ago and has been known as a great recruiter through the years, both as a head coach at UCF and Marshall, but also as a long-time assistant at the University of Florida. Josh Smith of Monrovia is also committed to Stetson.