West Virginia’s John Flowers brings West Virginia basketball back together again
By Tom Ballato
John Flowers started bringing West Virginia alumni and fans together each year for an alumni game. He is back at it for the fifth year, but this time is uniting a fanbase and reuniting players for The Basketball Tournament (TBT).
Flowers spent four year playing under Bob Huggins at West Virginia. Each year his role increased and he eventually became a starter his senior season. During his time in West Virginia, Flowers played alongside Joe Alexander, Kevin Jones, Devin Ebanks, Da’Sean Butler and many other talented players that ended up going to the NBA or overseas to play professionally. His time on the court had to be earned. West Virginia was an annual NCAA Tournament team during Flowers’ tenure. He was known for his defense and rebounding and drew tough defensive assignments each game.
After Flowers graduated from West Virginia, he went undrafted and started a professional career overseas. His game has expanded since we last saw him in a Mountaineers uniform. He has played in six countries so far and is having success.
Recently, Flowers announced West Virginia’s entry into the 2019 TBT Tournament. Something both college basketball and West Virginia fans should be excited about. The roster has yet to be revealed, but I’m sure we will get to see some former West Virginia greats together again! John has given so much to the West Virginia program. When asked what his favorite memory at West Virginia was, he replied, “Not one in particular is better than the other, but miss just walking around campus just being a student.”
What was it like to play for Bob Huggins at West Virginia?
My overall experience playing with coach Huggins was great. He led us to the NCAA tournament every year, Big East Championship, and Final Four. I learned a lot from him on and off the court. He taught me about responsibility and manning up and not to blame others for what I can control.
Your role gradually increased each year you were at West Virginia. You eventually became a consistent starter your senior year. What work did you have to put in to eventually become a starter? Does coach Huggins believe that freshman, regardless of talent, have to earn their minutes?
Huggins believes that anyone on the team freshman-senior has to earn the right to be on the court. I knew I just had to be patient and wait my turn as I was playing behind NBA draft picks such as (Devin) Ebanks, Da’Sean (Butler), and Joe Alexander. I just tried to have a positive impact in the game whenever I was in by bringing a lot of energy and enthusiasm.
Who was the hardest player you had to guard or matchup you looked forward to in college?
Two people that come to my mind are MarShon Brooks, who we called “Little Kobe”, he was great, and Norris Cole.
You played in the old Big East that arguably could have been the best conference in the county year in and year out. What was it like to play conference games each year in the Big East?
It was great playing in the Big East, I loved it. You always had to bring your A game every night. I enjoyed playing against the best.
During your time at West Virginia, you brought defense and rebounding to the team. What part of your game have you improved on that you may not have displayed at West Virginia?
I definitely have gotten to display my offense a lot more playing overseas. I was top 10 in my league in scoring my rookie year in Japan and I led the Pro B France league in scoring my second year.
Where have you played overseas and where are you currently playing?
I played in Japan for 2 years, France for 4 years, then Germany, Venezuela and Mexico. I am currently in Argentina on my 8th year as a pro.
From what I’ve read, you are in charge of bringing back alumni for alumni games at West Virginia?
Yeah I started a company J FLOW Entertainment and we are coming up on the 5th year of the alumni game. Playing in front of our fans again and with my brothers is always fun. We also have raised over 25,000 (dollars) for various charities over the past 4 years We have big things coming for this summer along with playing in the TBT Tournament.
I saw you are creating a West Virginia TBT alumni team. Have you started recruiting and what can we expect from a West Virginia alumni team?
Yes, we will play in the TBT this year, I am very excited. We have named our coaches, Joe Mazzulla, Jarrod West, and Billy Hahn. They are getting their rosters together. We plan on having exhibition games in Beckley and Charleston (West Virginia) to get us ready. It will be a lot of fun playing with my brothers again. I can’t wait.