Luis Flores: Former Manhattan College Star Looks For A City to Call Home

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Luis Flores: Former Manhattan College Star Looks For A City to Call Home

After working out, Luis Flores has the option of relaxing on the beach or finding a pleasant cafe to hang out in with some teammates. Tel Aviv is certainly a busy city, but Flores can find a peaceful way to pass the time that he does not spend on the basketball court.

Despite being located in a beautiful area of Israel, Tel Aviv is about 6,000 miles from Flores' coveted home. 

When Flores was a young boy, his family left the Dominican Republic for New York City's Washington Heights. The Heights are the home of many outdoor basketball courts, and Flores began his basketball journey on one of them. 

He developed as a player, and performed well enough at Norman Thomas High School to be recruited and signed by Rutgers University. 

Flores only saw 10.5 minutes per game in his freshman season, 1999-00, and decided to transfer away from the loaded Big East. Bobby Gonzalez, who coached for Manhattan College at the time, jumped at his opportunity to receive a transfer of Flores' caliber.

After sitting out for a season, as required of a transfer by the NCAA, the 6'1" shooting guard donned his No. 3 Jasper jersey on November 12, 2001. 

Joining sophomore forward Dave Holmes on the floor, Flores made an immediate impact on the Jaspers as a sophomore. His 19.4 points per game and three point percentage of 41.1 percent were enough to earn him All-MAAC First Team honors, and improved the Jaspers record from 14-15 to 17-7. The improved record was worthy of a bid in the NIT. Despite Flores' 33 point effort, the Jaspers were ousted in the first round by Villanova.

Jaspers fans knew that the duo of Flores and Holmes would be back for two more seasons, so they could only think about the future after the NIT loss. 

The fans who came to home games clad in Jasper green were not let down in the 2002-03 season. 

Despite starting the season 4-3, Flores put the Jaspers on his back and led them on a fifteen game winning streak. With their 19-3 record, people outside of Riverdale, New York were beginning to talk about the Manhattan College basketball team.

Flores played all fifty minutes of Manhattan's 82-81 conference semifinal victory against Niagara, and led all scorers with 30 points. 

Manhattan easily handled Fairfield in the conference championship, and earned a No. 14 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Jim Boeheim's Syracuse team, which consisted of Carmelo Anthony, Hakim Warrick, and Gerry McNamara, was too good for Manhattan and each of their next five opponents. Gonzalez and every Jaspers fan could not complain about losing 76-65 to the tournament's champion. 

No. 3 averaged 24.6 points per game, and was named MAAC Player of the Year as a junior.

2003-04 was the last season that Flores and Holmes arrived at Draddy Gymnasium to play their home games, but the senior tandem did not leave their fans empty-handed. 

Again, the Jaspers started slow, but Flores averaged 24 points per game, and shot 37.4 percent from beyond the arc, leading the Jaspers to 17 wins in their final 19 games. Flores was named MAAC Player of the Year again, as the Jaspers finished atop the MAAC with a 16-2 league record. 

David Lee, Matt Walsh, Anthony Roberson, and the No. 5 seeded Florida Gators were incapable of halting Flores, Holmes, and UMBC-transfer Peter Mulligan, as the No. 12 seeded Jaspers topped the Gators 75-60. 

Flores nearly led the Jaspers past Chris Paul and the Wake Forest Deamon Deacons in round two, but fell four points shy.

The trey that Flores nailed with 4:16 remaining on the clock was his final three pointer in Jasper green.

The jumper that bounced off the rim with four seconds remaining was his last miss.

The loss was the concluding game of his extraordinary career as a Jasper, whom the shooting guard averaged 22.7 points per game for over the course of his three year tenure.

By the loss to Wake Forest, most of the college basketball world had heard Flores' name. Scouts saw a tremendous shooter in Flores, but were tentative towards putting him on their draft boards because of his height.

Standing at 6'1," Flores was certainly undersized for an NBA shooting guard, but he could shoot the lights out of a gym. Most Jaspers fans thought Flores could play at the next level, and many are still unwilling to renounce their claims. 

The Houston Rockets were willing to choose Flores with the 55th overall pick in the 2004 NBA draft, but quickly traded his draft rights to the Dallas Mavericks. Mark Cuban and Don Nelson did not see what they wanted in the shooting guard, and sent him packing for Oakland's Golden State Warriors towards the end of the summer. 

A groove began to form in Flores' seat on the bench, as the rookie only appeared in fifteen games with the Warriors. The two-time MAAC Player of the Year only averaged 2.1 points in 4.9 minutes per game. 

For the third time in his young NBA career, Flores was shipped off, this time, in February to Denver. He only appeared in one game for the Nuggets, and hit the only three pointer he attempted in four minutes. The undersized shooting guard waited out the final two months of his rookie season on the bench, and was finally waived at the end of August of 2005. 

Not wanting to give up his dream of making it into the NBA, Flores went overseas to Italy for the 2005-06 season. No one knows exactly how Flores fared with Italy's BT Roseto because the European basketball league charges a fee for fans to view anything other than a team's roster.

The former Scarlet-Knight, Jasper, Rocket, Maverick, Warrior, Nugget, and Roseto Shark came back to America for the NBA's training camp. He made the New Orleans Hornets' preseason roster, but only appeared in three preseason games before the Hornets gave up on him. 

Again, Flores went overseas to Italy, signing with the Bipop Carire Reggio Emilia. A year later, Flores decided to give the Greek League a shot, and spent the 2007-08 season with the Olympiada Patras.

Now known as a journeyman, Flores attended a Manhattan College game in 2008. By the end of the game, rumors that the former Jasper was in the MVP race in Greece had fully circulated Draddy Gymnasium. 

Another rumor, which was being spread around a Jaspers basketball fan blog, claimed that Flores participated in the Minnesota Timberwolves training camp earlier this month. Given that he is not on the preseason roster, but is instead on Hapoel Holon's roster, implies that Flores did not make Minnesota's preseason team. 

Hapoel Holon is just another Israeli basketball team that will succumb to Macabi Tel Aviv about nine times out of ten, but Flores sees this as an opportunity to stay in shape and possibly try out in America next year. 

Flores, now 27 years old still has the hope that someday, preferably in the near future, an NBA team will find a way to use him as a 6'1" shooting guard. Until then, the former Scarlet Knight, Jasper, Rocket, Maverick, Warrior, Nugget, Roseto Shark, Emilia, and Olympian can soak up the sun at the beach in nearby Tel Aviv, eat falafel, and play basketball.

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