Just 15 minutes away from Taylor’s campus, one of the most prolific scorers in Indiana high school history just ended his high school career.
While most people will only remember Blackford Bruins’ Luke Brown for his accomplishments on the court, he leaves a legacy much bigger than that.
Brown ends his high school career with 3,011 points and 599 assists, good for fourth and ninth all-time in Indiana respectively. Despite all of his success on the court, he gets plenty of negative messages about his talent on social media. It does not bother him; it only fuels him more to succeed and prove his doubters wrong.
“I love when student sections go at me, it gets me going,” Brown said.
However, his biggest accomplishment was being a key factor in rebuilding the Blackford High School basketball program. Before Brown arrived, the Bruins suffered a 61-game losing streak spanning from Feb. 25, 2014 to Jan. 14, 2017 as well as two winless seasons in the same time frame.
Now, losing is an anomaly. During Brown’s time at Blackford, the team went 77-25, winning two sectional titles and the first regional title in school history this spring.
That is only part of the impact he has had though. Before Brown, interest in Blackford basketball was, understandably, almost nonexistent. Up to a couple of hundred people would come to the games. Now, over 3,000 people will attend every game.
The financial impact was incredible. Ticket sales from people wanting to see Brown play have helped pay for a new scoreboard and paint the walls of the athletic department.
However, the pandemic has made Blackford lose out on as much as $100,000 due to not having a packed house according to Blackford Athletic Director Tony Uggen.
Uggen remembers a picture where the year before Brown came in, Blackford was playing Jay County and there were maybe ten people sitting on the Blackford side. Two years later during Brown’s sophomore year, the Blackford side was packed.
Brown feels blessed and humbled by the thought that he has transformed Blackford basketball into what it is today. God is essential in his life.
“I give Him all the glory in everything I do,” Brown said.
Many people cite two things that are important to explain why Brown is as good as he is: work ethic and leadership.
Words do not give his work ethic justice according to Blackford Head Coach Grant Newlin. Often, when we hear about great athletes, we hear they are the first to practice and last to leave. It is no different with Brown. His whole day revolves around getting better at basketball with multiple workouts a day and sessions of shooting as well as team practice.
“Skill and talent can only take you so far,” Brown said.
His leadership was a key part to their success this year. Just a day before practice began for the new season, the previous head coach, Jerry Hoover stepped down due to COVID-19 concerns. This put Newlin as head coach. Four players would end up leaving the team during the year, and the team was forced to take a break due to a positive COVID test. Brown’s leadership helped keep team spirits up.
Newlin described Brown as a vocal leader who will get up in teammate’s faces when needed. He also is a leader in meetings and the film room, giving advice whenever needed.
Next year, Brown will be taking his talents to Stetson University in DeLand, Florida. He will look to continue to achieve more on the basketball court and continue to prove the doubters wrong.