Potential March darling loses top player for conference tournament

John Brown is one of the best mid-major players, and best dunkers, in America. (High Point Athletics)

High Point, the No. 1 seed in the Big South tournament, will have to win its league bracket without its best player — and one of the best mid-major guys in the nation.

Coach Scott Cherry told CBS Sports on Friday afternoon that John Brown will miss the entirety of the league tournament due to a right foot injury. Brown is a senior, an NBA prospect and maybe the most entertaining dunker in the sport. He was injured on Feb. 25 in the Panthers’ game against Winthrop while going for a rebound. The injury was foot-to-foot, as a Winthrop player stepped on Brown’s.

At the time of the injury, Brown had 19 points and four steals in 12 minutes. Brown averaged 19.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.8 blocks and 1.7 steals in the regular season.

High Point is not revealing the details on Brown’s injury, nor is it saying how long he’ll be out beyond the next week. Cherry is leaving the door open for postseason play beyond the Big South tournament. Since High Point is the regular-season champion of the Big South, if it does not win the automatic bid for the NCAA Tournament in the league bracket, it automatically qualifies to play in the NIT.

High Point went 20-9 this season, 13-5 in the Big South. It beat Longwood 89-78 in the quarterfinals on Friday — and lost another key senior, Adam Weary, less than four minutes into the game with a knee injury. Weary’s status for the next game is to be determined.

Brown’s absence for the league tournament is a bit spooky. Consider this crazy fact: High Point has finished atop the Big South standings in all four of Brown’s seasons at the school but, amazingly, until Friday, had not won a Big South tournament game during that span.

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