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Blackford’s Luke Brown, left, and assistant coach Don Hoover stand on the court at Tri-County High School during a scrimmage Nov. 17 in Wolcott.

Sophomore is scoring at a 38.0 points per game clip after 4 games

    HARTFORD CITY — Four games into his sophomore season, Blackford point guard Luke Brown hasn’t experienced any jinx.

    Entering the weekend game against Alexandria, Brown was averaging 38.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 9.0 assists and 1.5 steals per game while shooting 52 percent (49 of 94) from the field, 38 percent (15 of 39) from 3-point range and 94 percent (39 of 40) from the free-throw line for the 4-0 Bruins.

    Brown, who grew up in Brownsburg and attended Bethesda Christian School, has family ties to Monticello. He is the grandson of Jerry Brown of Monticello and the son of Ted Brown of Hartford City, formerly of Monticello.

    “I have had a passion for basketball since I was little,” said Brown, who participated in a scrimmage between Blackford and Tri-County at Wolcott in November. “My dad (Ted Brown) would take me down to the basement and work on form with little mini hoops when I was 4- or 5-years-old. Basketball is just in my family. Pretty much all of my dad’s family is from Monticello and still lives there.”

    Bruins head coach Jerry Hoover, who also has Monticello roots, said Luke Brown comes from a long line of basketball players.

    “This is a good story about a kid who has connections to Monticello,” Hoover said. “Luke Brown’s granddaddy, Jerry Brown, and I were teammates on the Monticello High School boys basketball team in the 1950s. We’re cousins. Then, my son, (Blackford assistant coach) Don Hoover and Luke’s dad, Ted Brown, played basketball together at Twin Lakes High School on a sectional championship team.”

    Jerry Hoover, 84, who will be inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame next March, has been a coach who has worked to improve struggling boys and girls basketball teams at 10 Indiana high schools, including Logansport, and two colleges. The Bruins had been 1-78 in their previous 79 games before the Hoovers were hired to guide Blackford before the 2016-17 season.

    Jerry Hoover saw the Blackford job as an opportunity to coach his grandson, J.D. Hoover, during his senior season a year ago and Luke Brown, a fifth-cousin who was to be an incoming freshman.

    The Bruins went 8-1 in their first nine games en route to a 14-9 season. J.D. Hoover flourished under the guidance of his father and grandfather by averaging a double-double of 18.7 points and 10.7 rebounds last year. Luke Brown was the fourth-best scorer in Indiana last season by logging 27.8 points while adding 3.3 rebounds and 5.5 assists until an ankle injury forced him to miss the final eight games.

    Brown also overcame Osgood-Schlatter disease, a common but temporary issue for growing young athletes where the quadriceps pull tightly on the kneecap and gets inflamed during his first varsity season.

    Now, he’s back and a lot stronger as a sophomore after spending a lot of time in weight room.

    “I have improved my strength. I knew that I had to get stronger because of how physical it gets out there,” Luke Brown said. “I have been in weight room a lot. I’ve also tried to increase my speed and my (shooting) range from 3. I get a lot of shots from deep and my percentage needs to be high from out there.”

    Jerry Hoover has seen the impact of a stronger Luke Brown, who has been an IBCA/Subway Player of the Week the first two weeks this season.

    “Last year he played at 5-foot-10 and 130 pounds and still averaged 28 points per game as a freshman on a varsity schedule,” Jerry Hoover said. “This year, he’s so much stronger, 3 inches taller and playing at 150 with 20 more pounds of muscle. He’s overcome the Osgood-Schlatter disease and he’s sound.

    Brown’s game isn’t all about shooting shots he’s created. It also includes getting his teammates involved in the Bruins’ offense.

    “It’s nice to be able to shoot (the 3-point) shot because (defenses) have to come out and guard me. Then, I can penetrate to the basket and give the ball to others,” Brown said. “It makes the game a whole lot easier.”

    Jerry Hoover knows Luke Brown will get better as a sophomore because he’s still maturing on the basketball court.

    “There isn’t any question that a pain-free Luke Brown can exceed what he did as a freshman. I’m hoping that he can score in the 30s,” Jerry Hoover said. “We have talked to Luke and the team about the fact he’s not going to play any place else than a point guard at the next level. To a point guard, an assist is just as important as scoring a basket.”

    Brown is meticulous observant of basketball. So much so that he records every shot he takes in a notebook.

    “Tracking my shots helps me know my percentages and it lets me know if I am getting better. It shows me what I need to spend time improving, shooting-wise,” Brown said.

    Brown is excited to play a full varsity season at 100 percent.

    “Honestly, (the ankle injury) helped me and my knee pain has gone away,” Brown said. “I read an article on Larry Bird, who broke his leg back in his freshman year of high school. He said that it made him love the game even more. That’s exactly how I feel.”