#12- The High Point Panthers
The High Point Panthers are coming off a season in which they finished with a record just over .500, at 16-15, while remarkably having the best record in Big South conference play (12-4). It is very impressive that High Point turned their season around last year, after starting off with a disappointing record of 4-9 in nonconference play. High Point’s nonconference season included a 7 game losing streak at one point, with 4 of those losses coming by over 20 points. With the way the Panthers started last year, there was no way to predict that they would come back when conference play started and win 12 of 16 games to close out the season. The end of the season saw a loss in the first round of the NIT to eventual champions Minnesota. However, High Point ended the year on a very high note, winning 10 of the final 14 games, including tournament losses in both the Big South tourney and the NIT. Hopefully for High Point, they can keep the momentum going into this new season, win some nonconference games, and hopefully make it to the NCAA Tournament.
High Point’s nonconference schedule will not be overly taxing this year, but they will have the opportunity to prove that they belong in the tournament when they take on teams like Clemson and Ohio State, both chances for upsets on the road. While these would be impressive résumé-boosting wins, the Panthers will need to do much better than their 4-9 record in nonconference play last year. If High Point can improve their nonconference record and continue their recent prowess in Big South play, look for this team to get some tournament hype. High Point will retain plenty of their strong players from last year, and they also will bring in 4 new recruits to possible give them a boost. Well over half the roster this year is juniors and seniors, so the experience will help High Point throughout the year, and then into the Big South tournament, where the Panthers could possibly earn an automatic bid to the Dance. Scott Cherry’s team has a chance to make the tournament this year, and they need to take advantage of the opportunity and carry over momentum from last season’s strong ending.
John Brown, Junior F – Brown averaged 19.5 points per game last year on an impressive .545 field goal percentage. As the focal point and the leader of this offense, Brown played 31.8 minutes per game last year. Brown will need to continue his domination on the court this year for High Point to play well. At 6-8, 205 pounds, Brown has the size to yet again play a large role both offensively and defensively. It is likely that Brown’s numbers will improve even more this year, as the offense centers more around him.
Devante Wallace, Senior G – Devante Wallace played just over 28 minutes per game last year, and could be a catalyst for this offensive attack. He averaged 12.6 PPG and was a solid player offensively and defensively. He will once again be starting for the Panthers and should be able to play more to his potential. Hopefully an older, more experienced team will allow Wallace to play with a group of players who will make him and the whole team better.
High Point has the chance to make something of the year, and maybe get into the NCAA Tournament. While the Panthers should definitely improve on last year’s record, both nonconference and overall, they won’t blow people away with talent. When all is said and done, High Point will finish somewhere around 18-12, and end up in the NIT for a second year in a row.