John Flowers’ professional basketball career has taken him all over the globe.
But he always finds a way to reconnect with West Virginia, where he spent his college days.
For the past four years, Flowers has organized a WVU alumni basketball game each summer. This year’s event will take place Saturday at 7 p.m. at Fairmont State’s Joe Retton Arena. A couple dozen former Mountaineers are slated to participate, including Nate Adrian, Da’Sean Butler, Kevin Jones, Truck Bryant, Devin Williams, Juwan Staten, Jaysean Paige, Tarik Phillip, Teyvon Myers, Brandon Watkins, Herbie Brooks, Brent Solheim, Darryl Prue and many more.
The alumni game benefits a local charity each year, and nearly $20,000 has been donated from the three previous games. This year’s recipient will be the Give A Hoop Foundation, which was founded by Butler and benefits children in West Virginia.
Having grown up just outside of Washington, D.C., in Waldorf, Md., Flowers was recruited to WVU in 2007 by then head coach John Beilein. The 6-foot-7 forward grew and flourished when Bob Huggins took over the program a year later, and Morgantown basically remains Flowers’ home to this day. He keeps a condo for himself and also has rental property in the University City. And while pro basketball has taken him to Japan, France, Germany, Venezuela and Mexico, each offseason he returns to Morgantown to relax and recharge … and also to organize the alumni game.
“It’s going to be a good game,” stated Flowers of this year’s alumni event. “We have a lot of fun. We’ve had great crowds, and the people keep coming back, so they obviously enjoy it as well.
“I’m still not sure how we’re going to divide the teams up this time,” he continued. “Last year was ‘Press Virginia’ against the Final Four team. It was a good game, and the Final Four team won. I’m sure we’ll have another good game this year.”
Tickets will be available at the door of the Joe Retton Arena Saturday night for $20.
Flowers still is the charismatic entertainer he was as a college player, when he famously danced a jig on the floor of the Joyce Center after a victory over Notre Dame. But the years catch up to everyone, even JFlow. John just turned 29, and next month he’s getting married.
“I’m getting older now, but I think I’m getting better,” chuckled Flowers, who had 740 points and 502 rebounds while playing in 142 games in his four seasons at WVU. “I still love playing, and I’ll keep playing as long as I enjoy it.
“Playing overseas was eye-opening at first,” he added. “There are a lot of talented people everywhere. I didn’t realize that when I first started, but I do now.”
This past season he played in France for Chalons-Reims, which was his eighth team in the last seven years. Chalons-Reims has offered him a contract for next season as well, but Flowers says he is still in the negotiation phase, so he’s unsure if he’ll be back with the French ProA league club, where he averaged 10.7 points and 4.4 rebounds this past season. Former Mountaineer Kevin Jones played in the same league, averaging 13.3 points and 6.1 rebounds for Nanterre. And former WVU guard Juwan Staten also played in France this past year, though in a different league. He averaged 10.6 points and 3.6 assists for Saint-Chamond, which competed in the ProB league.
“I’ve enjoyed playing in France, because it’s one of the top leagues in Europe, and I’ve done well there,” Flowers noted. “Germany and France are the best leagues, in my opinion.”
Flowers, Staten and Jones are among 24 former Mountaineers who played professional basketball overseas this past season. Many of those will be on the court at Fairmont State’s Joe Retton Arena Saturday night, entertaining West Virginia fans once again.