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Lufkin Panther BOYS BASKETBALL 2023 - 2024 Season

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I can tell AB been putting in work in the weight room. He will be a load to handle as he his body continues to fill out. Looking forward to seeing him and the rest of the team this year. Walker, Moody and the seniors from last year help lay the groundwork for the guys taking over this year.

Glad to see McManus got us in some competitive tournaments. The experience will pay dividends down the road. They won’t face another team as good as Duncanville this year. 

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Austin Brown already was getting the attention of college coaches even before he stepped on the court as a varsity player.

Now as a sophomore, the offers are starting to flow in, and by the time he leaves Lufkin, he is likely to have his selection of where he wants to showcase his skills.

Brown’s success isn’t unprecedented for a high school player, but it’s certainly something new for the Lufkin area.

And with the 2023-24 season tipping off this week, local basketball fans get to reacquaint themselves with possibly the top basketball recruit the city has ever seen.

“People see the talent,” Lufkin head coach J.T. McManus said. “They don’t necessarily see the sacrifice it takes for a player to get to the level he’s at. And to see the trajectory he’s on, it’s something pretty special.”

The 6-foot-7 Brown was a basketball sensation for his exploits before making his way to the high school campus. He picked up the game when he was a youngster, and some of his early memories are of attending the SFA basketball camp.

He said he fell in love with the game while playing in the Lufkin youth leagues. The rest is history.

“I started playing in tournaments when I was in fourth and fifth grade,” Brown said. “When I was in sixth grade, I started playing in the bigger ones and it just kind of went from there.”

When he isn’t on the local courts, Brown competes at the AAU level with JL3, an organization run by John Lucas, a former All-American and No. 1 NBA draft pick who has been a long-time representative of the Houston Rockets franchise.

Since his playing days, Lucas has been a mentor to many across the NBA and is currently the special assistant to Rockets general manager Rafael Stone.

The impact Lucas has played for Brown doesn’t go unnoticed by the Lufkin sophomore.

“If we don’t have a game, then there are a lot of weekends I go train with him,” Brown said. “He’s been good to be. He’s helped me grow a lot. He takes his time and sees my potential. It’s an honor to work with him because he’s such a big role model for me.”

Brown and his AAU team have traveled across the country. He has played in tournaments across the nation with some of the biggest ones being in Atlanta, Kansas and Dallas.

The biggest was the Peach Jam, which is played in Augusta. The tournament is one of the most prestigious showcases in the nation.

Brown played up a year in age with the organization’s 16U team at the event.

“Pretty much every college coach is there, so it’s a huge opportunity to showcase yourself,” Brown said. “Once it gets going, you’re just playing your game, but there’s definitely a different atmosphere there.”

The attention Brown gets at those tournaments isn’t lost on his high school coach.

“He’s a kid from Lufkin, and you aren’t sure who knows about him,” McManus said. “Then you walk in a gym and hear them whispering, ‘That’s Austin.’ He worked hard to earn that type of respect.”

The attention at the national tournaments may be unprecedented for a Lufkin player, but the high school experience is one that is unmatched for Brown.

He was just able to scratch the surface of his talent as a freshman when an injury sidelined him more than half the season. When he was on the court, he was the team’s leading scorer.

In fact, the only game the team lost with him on the court was a second-round playoff game against Red Oak.

Now that he’s fully healthy, he’s ready to see what the Panthers can pull off as they open the 2023 season on the road Friday night.

“That’s the highlight for me,” Brown said. “High school basketball has the best atmosphere. You’re playing with guys you know. AAU basketball is awesome. But there’s something different about playing with your high school team.”

The Panthers are coming off a 34-5 season, but the bar has been raised, at least in terms of the team’s schedule.

Lufkin has a non-district schedule that will rival almost any team in the state. Brown is a big reason why.

“You have the success we’ve had these past few years, and it gives you that chance,” McManus said. “And quite honestly, having a player like him opens up those opportunities even more. I know he likes a challenge, and this team will be tested.”

Brown admits he’ll be seeing some of the same faces during his high school season that he will see on the AAU circuit.

Lufkin’s home opener is against a Duncanville team that features top DI prospects. The following day, the Panthers play an Arizona team that will present its own set of challenges.

Even before that, the Panthers will see some of the best talent from the state.

Brown said the Panthers are ready for the challenge.

“We’re probably not going to have the same record we had last year,” Brown said. “It’s going to be tougher competition. Hopefully that’s going to have us ready when we get to the playoffs.”

Those types of showcases will only help the profile of Brown, who has picked up offers from SFA, Texas A&M, TCU and Texas Tech.

But it’s the work he puts in that has him ready for whatever he will face.

“It’s always funny to look at film from a year ago and where a player is now,” McManus said. “He weighed 170 then, and he’s around 190 now. The work in the weight room to become bigger and stronger is only going to help him. Teams are going to throw the kitchen sink at him, and he’s going to get beat up, but that will help him work his way through it.

“Austin’s the definition of a gym rat,” McManus said. “He’s up here anytime the gym is available, and if it’s not, he’s just like a rat trying to sneak up in here. I mean that in the most positive way possible. He’s got a certain level of confidence and almost arrogance to the way he plays the game. And that’s not a bad thing when you’ve got his ability and his work ethic.”

Brown is quick to credit McManus for his help in working through the recruiting process. College coaches aren’t allowed to reach out directly to players until the summer after their sophomore year.

“Because of the rules that are there, coach is the one that has to deal with a lot of the coaches,” Brown said. “He’s been great to me, and my dad is always there for me.”

Now it’s time for Brown and the Panthers to see what the season has in store for them. With only three returning players from last year’s area finalist, it will be a new look with a big-time player in the middle of it.

“A lot of people don’t see it, but we’re here in the morning then there’s two and a half hours together as a team in the afternoon,” Brown said.

“I had the injury last year, and the team pretty much won district without me. Hopefully, I’ll be healthy this entire year, and we’ll see how far we can go.”

Josh Havard’s email address is josh.havard@lufkindailynews.com.

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The Lufkin Panthers have won and won big over the last two years.

The Panthers are two years removed from their first regional tournament berth since 1979. Last year, Lufkin spent most of the season in the Top 25 before dropping a second-round game to a talented Red Oak team.

Sixty-nine wins in two years are numbers that match up with most teams across the state.


Now with a revamped roster headlined by one of the top sophomores in the nation, the Panthers are ready to take the next step in their progression.

“Every year is a new team and we’ve graduated a bunch of guys who meant a lot to this program,” Lufkin head coach J.T. McManus said. “We’ve got seven guys we felt really good about in the offseason, and you can probably add an eighth that really stepped up in the last week. We’re still looking at who to fill out the roster with. It’s a good problem to have.”

If there is a team that can fill in the gaps left by graduation, it is Lufkin.

The Panthers’ JV and freshmen teams were each 29-1 last season, leaving Lufkin’s program with an overall mark of 92-6. Lufkin’s varsity was 34-5 last year.

Lufkin has three players returning off last year’s roster, including the team’s leading scorer and top Division I recruit Austin Brown. He has already drawn offers from Texas A&M, TCU, Texas Tech and SFA.

While Brown’s sharpshooting is a nice touch, he is a complete player for the Panthers.

He excels on the perimeter and could see time at point guard. He can also use his 6-foot-8 frame to post up on the inside.

The other two players returning on the Lufkin roster are Da’Lynn Newman and Marcellus Parks, both juniors.

McManus is looking for big things from players in their second full season on the roster.

“(Parks) had a really good spring and really developed his game in the summer,” McManus said. “He could be a little bright-eyed as a sophomore, but you could see his natural ability. He played a lot of minutes and can be a two or three guard for us.”

Newman is a ball handler whose emergence could have a ripple effect on the roster.

“He’s a point guard and he’ll have the ball in his hands,” McManus said. “He’s developed and gotten better. Austin is another option at point guard, but having Da’Lynn fill that spot would take some pressure off him.”

With those players expected to see significant roles, the Panthers are looking to find the right roles for the rest of the roster.

Seniors Dallas Harrell and Cody Blake, juniors B.J. Thomas and Javarius White and sophomore Jakevion Sanders are five of the players expected to say significant roles.

With each of those players standing between 6-foot-2 and 6-foot-3, Lufkin is lacking the type of true big man like they had last season with Brandon Walker and Tre Harris.

While it may have a different look, McManus and the Panthers will look to use that to their advantage.

“We don’t have someone like Brandon or Tre this year, but we’ve got pretty good length across the floor,” McManus said. “We won’t be afraid to take advantage of some size mismatches and post up our guards. The strength of this team is the group and how well they work together.”

If the Panthers don’t match their win totals of the last two years, it would be understandable as McManus loaded up with what appears to be the most challenging schedule in school history.

The Panthers open the season playing against Good Vision Academy at the Houston OTR Tip-off at Houston Yates. Good Vision Academy is a team that works to send players to the college ranks.

That will be followed by a trip to compete in the Dallas Mavs Fall Classic. That tournament features an elite field of 5A and 6A teams.

The Panthers will then host one of the elite showcases in the country with the Pineywoods Hoopfest.

Lufkin breaks from the Christmas holidays by playing in the Allen tournament, another field that will be loaded with elite larger programs.

“Because of the success we’ve had over the past few years and having one of the players we do, it gives you access to play some of the best teams in the state,” McManus said. “We were matched against some of the best teams this summer, and we had our struggles at times.

“But with having some of the young guys we have here, it lets you see how fast you can grow. Obviously I wouldn’t put the kids in a situation against these teams if I didn’t think we had the ability to compete. It’s fun. It’s exciting. At the same, if we don’t hold up our end of the bargain, it goes away pretty quick.”

Regardless of the record Lufkin posts, it should still emerge as the favorite to defend its district title and put together another playoff push. Lufkin fell to regional qualifier Red Oak in the second round of the playoffs last season. The Panthers will look to get back to the regional tournament for the second time in three seasons after a 41-year absence from the event.

With the bar raised, it should be a fun season in the Panther Activity Center.

“The goal is to get back to regionals and put up a better showing than we did the last time,” McManus said. “We’ve won a lot as a program and feel good about where we are. But there’s a ton more work to do if we’re going to get there.”


Josh Havard’s email address is josh.havard@lufkindailynews.com.

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One of the most prestigious high school basketball events in the nation will be headed to East Texas when Lufkin’s Panther Activity Center hosts the Pineywoods Hoopfest.

It will feature 20 games and will be held Nov. 20-21.

The Hoopfest Basketball Series is an event that started in the Dallas area in 2009 and has featured nearly unmatched talent when it comes to high school events.


The event has featured more than 75 state champions and 65 McDonald’s All-Americans. More than 30 current NBA players have participated in the event.

This will be the organization’s first stop in the East Texas area.

“This is huge for us here, and we want to make sure it’s successful,” Lufkin head coach J.T. McManus said. “Being here in East Texas, it’s not hard to find Metroplex teams that are willing to play against you. But it is a struggle to get them to come to East Texas. This allows them to come here and compete against some really good competition. For basketball fans around here, you can’t beat it. To see players like this, you’d usually have to make a weekend trip.”

The Lufkin Panthers and Lady Panthers will each participate in the event.

The Panthers’ first game will be an elite matchup against Duncanville, one of the top 6A programs in the state. Duncanville won the 2022 6A title before it was stripped due to using an ineligible player.

The team was ranked in the Top 5 of last year’s national rankings, but the superintendent ruled the team would not compete in the playoffs. It finished the year 29-1.

Kayden Edwards, one of the top recruits in the 2025 class, plays for Duncanville.

The Panthers feature Austin Brown, another one of the top recruits in the 2025 class.


Lufkin also plays against Millennium, one of the top basketball programs in Arizona.

The Lady Panthers will also compete at the event when it faces Beaumont United.

Lufkin isn’t the only local team competing at the event.

On the boys side, Central Heights, Hudson and Nacogdoches will each be competing.

The Huntington Devilettes will compete on the girls side.

Tickets for the event can be ordered online at Hoopfestbasketball.com.

Following is a complete schedule for the event with all games to be played at the Panther Activity Center. Games are boys contests unless otherwise noted.

Monday, Nov. 20

Central Heights vs. Kountze, 9 a.m.; LaPoynor vs. Hudson, 10:20 a.m.; Jacksonville vs. Little Cypress-Mauriceville, 11:40 a.m.; Beaumont United vs. Lufkin (girls), 1 p.m,; Nacogdoches vs. Texas High, 2:20 p.m.; Duncanville vs. Walker, Louisiana (girls), 3:40 p.m.; Duncanville vs. Lufkin, 5 p.m.; Tyler Legacy vs. Baton Rouge Madison Prep, 6:20 p.m.; Tenaha vs. Rice (girls), 7:40 p.m.; Crandall vs. Millennium, Arizona, 9 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov. 21

Texas High vs. Jacksonville, 9 a.m.; Central Heights vs. Anacoco, Louisiana, 10:20 a.m.; Crandall vs. Huntington (girls), 11:40 a.m.; Hallsville vs. Port Arthur Memorial, 1 a.m.; Nacogdoches vs. Baton Rouge Madison Prep, 2:20 p.m.; Round Rock Stony Point vs. Allen, 3:40 p.m.; College Park vs. Tyler Legacy, 5 p.m.; DeSoto vs. Huntington, Louisiana (girls), 6:20 p.m.; Zwolle, Louisiana vs. LaPoynor, 7:40 p.m.; Lufkin vs. Millennium, Arizona, 9 p.m.


Josh Havard’s email address is josh.havard@lufkindailynews.com.

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Highlights from Lufkin vs Shadow Creek. Lufkin schedule is brutal. Even the exhibition games have been a challenge. Parks is playing with more confidence this year. As mentioned by McManus in the article. Him and AB will have to carry the team until the rest come along. They won’t get the easy post points with Walker gone now. So it will be a different look. They have some other guys that can play. It may take a while to for McManus to find he’s best rotation. We lost some really good guys to graduation. Kamari, Moody, Tre, Deason, Cam, O’ Hart and of course Walker, all instrumental in the success of the program the last couple of years.

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This team this year and next year should be very good. Just a different mix than the last two years when you had two bigs in the middle.  Lot's of teams are successful without the middle presence. Not sure you want Brown playing inside too much, but he is a mismatch inside in a man up scheme. 

Dallas Harrell, Gavin Phillips and a transfer from PCA can play the middle. Forward Parks is 6'5", so even if we do not have those legit big men this year, the team is tall and have the length to defend or play over the top.  Brown has help around him so he does not need to carry the team per se. 

I've talk to a few folks, these kids played a tough summer schedule, baptism by fire in some cases. All good when it comes down to winning district and getting by the Red Oak's and Dallas Kimball's in 5A. Really nice to have a good point in Da’Lynn Newman who has a lot of experience from last year. 

The pre season schedule and tourney's are much tougher than the last two years. McManus has done the right thing to schedule the tougher road to season these guys.  It's just like football to me, play a TOUGH non district to prepare for what counts, winning district and making a playoff run.  No one remembers what you do in pre season, they remember your district play and mainly your playoff prowess.

McManus sees that, Quick sees 3-7 teams like Tyler Legacy and Nacogdoches.  5A DII SOC played 6A Duncanville and DeSoto and took their lumps, they are 8-2 and playoff bound. 5A DI Lancaster payed 6A Denton Guyer and South Oak Cliff, they are 5-5 but in the playoffs. Outlaw use to do just that.

Not sure Lufkin basketball can completely relieve my Panther football misery, but it could sure help me get re centered again.  I believe it's going to be a great year of boys basketball.


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Agree with everything you said PA. Nothing beats the feeling of watching the football program be successful. But I’ve come to appreciate the other boys/girls sports. The PAC has made watching basketball  an enjoyable experience here. I can’t brag enough about how nice of a facility it is. Combine that with us having one of the top Sophs in the state. It makes for a nice consolation. I’ll be hanging out at the PAC for several games Nov. 20/21 The Pineywoods Hoopfest is a great way to kick off the home opener. Lufkin vs Duncanville and a perennial from AZ is something to get the fans excited about. The experience will pay off down the road. Not expecting us to beat Duncanville. Although stranger things have happened. Just glad to see our guys have chance to compete with a program like that. 

Would love to still be talking Lufkin football matchups for this week. But it’s just not in the cards for us. We do have another talented to guy to root. AB will be one of the top recruits out of Texas when he done. Maybe even the nation. This will be a fun season for Panther basketball. I’ll be there watching with some popcorn and snicker in hand.😁

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The Pack Boys traveled down to Houston tonight to play Pro-Vision Academy and took a tough 82-70 loss. Don't know much about them, they are a private charter school near the Texas Southern campus.

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9 hours ago, PackAttack said:

The Pack Boys traveled down to Houston tonight to play Pro-Vision Academy and took a tough 82-70 loss. Don't know much about them, they are a private charter school near the Texas Southern campus.

There whole purpose is getting players into college to play ball. Anyone on that team is there for that purpose. No different than IMG, just not as big and well known. Similar to Faith Family basketball in Dallas. So an 82-70 loss is not too bad for a public school like Lufkin. Lufkin may be close to sub 500 when district starts. But will be battled tested and much better because of it. 

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The Lufkin Panthers stayed close with a talented Good Vision Academy team before dropping an 82-70 decision in the season opener at Houston Yates High School Friday night.

Austin Brown started his sophomore season with 21 points while Cody Blake scored 12.

Elijah Mitchell led Good Vision Academy with 19 points and Cam Woodberry put in 16.


Other Lufkin scorers were Da’Lynn Newman (9), JaVarius White and Marcellus Parks (7), B.J. Thomas and Jakevion Sanders (6) and Dallas Harrell (2).

Lufkin (0-1) will play in the Dallas Mavs Classic starting Thursday.

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The Lufkin Panther Boys will play Frisco Independence tomorrow at 3 PM @ Frisco Independence Gym, in their first game in the Dallas Mavericks HS Fall Classic.

Here is the bracket:


Watch here:


You can also download an APP to keep up with all the tourney scores:


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Lufkin boys defeat 6A Wylie 61-53 this morning. Will play Walnut Grove at 1:30 PM. That game will be for 7th place in a 32 team 5A-6A tournament. Lufkin is 3-1 in the tourney.

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Lufkin comes back from 15 points down in the 3rd quarter to defeat Prosper Walnut Grove 64-48. Lufkin wins 7th place out of 32 -  5A/6A teams. The Pack finished 4-1 in the tournament. They return home Monday to host the Lufkin Hoopfest. They play 6A Duncanville on Monday evening.

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