Originally posted on The Sports Headquarters  |  Last updated 12/17/12
Day 3: Luis Flores, Guard, Manhattan (2001-04) – For Day 3 of this segment, I am going with a lesser known player, as I will profile former Manhattan star Luis Flores. Luis Flores might not be a name the casual basketball fan remembers but I’m sure many of you college basketball junkies out there remember Luis Flores and the upset minded Jaspers of the early millennium. Flores was born in the Dominican Republic but grew up in Washington Heights, New York and like most New York City kids spent most of his spare time playing basketball. Flores went on to star at local high school Norman Thomas, leading NYC in scoring at 35.6ppg and his team to a 21-5 record as a senior. A little known fact about Flores is that he actually started his career at Rutgers, as the 6’1” born scorer played sparingly as a freshman for the Scarlet Knights under Kevin Bannon averaging just 3.9ppg. Flores transferred closer to home following his freshman season, a move that would not only spark Flores’ individual collegiate career but would also change the fortunes of Manhattan basketball at the time. Per NCAA rules, Flores was forced to sit out the 2000-01 season but joined Bobby Gonzalez’s club on a fulltime basis for the 01-02 season. Flores starred from day 1 at his new school, as he notched 18 points in his Jasper debut against Syracuse (78-58 loss) and took off from there. Flores averaged 19 points, 4 rebounds and 2.5 assists as a sophomore and led the Jaspers to a 20-9 record and an NIT appearance. As a junior, Flores’ career really began to take off, as the guard made a name for himself as one of the nation’s most explosive scorers (7th), averaging 24.6 points per game. Flores was named the MAAC’S Most Valuable Player and also the MVP of the Metro Atlantic Tournament, leading the Jaspers with 22 points in a win in the title game over Fairfield. In the NCAA Tournament the Jaspers were matched up with 3rd seeded Syracuse and freshman Carmelo Anthony. In a game I attended, Flores was as good as anyone on the floor, as he kept Manhattan in the game until the final few minutes scoring 20 points in an 11 pt loss. Manhattan gave Syracuse all it could handle that afternoon, as they provided a steep test for freshman phenom Carmelo Anthony and the eventual NCAA champs. Entering his senior season Luis Flores had established himself as a marked man, as people around the country were starting to take notice of Flores’ high scoring numbers and Manhattan’s sudden success. That didn’t stop Flores and the Jaspers, as Manhattan went 23-7 led by Flores, who once again ranked in the top 10 nationally in scoring at 24ppg. Flores was for the 2nd straight season named both Conference Player of the Year and MVP of the MAAC Tournament, as Flores scored a combined 46 points over the 2 games of the MAAC tourney, guiding the Jaspers back to the NCAA’s for the 2nd consecutive season. That’s when Luis Flores’ signature moment happened, as in the NCAA Tournament, on National Television, Flores exploded for 26 points in a classic 12-5 upset over a Florida Gators team that featured NBA star David Lee. After 3 seasons averaging 20 points per game and leading Manhattan to 68 wins, Flores finally had his day in the sun and started getting the attention he deserved. Manhattan nearly repeated the feat 2 days later, as the Jaspers gave Wake Forest and Chris Paul all they could handle before falling 84-80, despite 20 points on 8-17 shooting for Flores. Flores finished his career as the all-time leading scorer at Manhattan (2046 pts), which is even more amazing when you consider he only played 3 seasons there. Flores was one of the better pure scorers I have seen at the collegiate ranks, as the 6’1” guard could beat you in a variety of ways and always was in attack mode. Flores separated himself from other high scoring guards because of how he changed the culture of his program, almost single handedly making Manhattan relevant during his 3 years. The Manhattan Jaspers made the postseason in all 3 of Flores’ seasons and reached the NCAA’s in Flores’ last 2 seasons, including that tournament win over Florida in 2003-04. Flores’ role and significance has not been forgotten by NYC basketball fans, as Manhattan has not appeared in the NCAA Tournament since his graduation, just another example of the special talent and leader that Flores was. Luis Flores was just born to score, as he was tough off the dribble but also could beat you from beyond the 3-point line or with his polished mid-range game. Like all great scorers what made Flores special, was his aggressiveness, his ability to create space against defenders and lastly confidence in his own abilities. A final lesser known award that Flores was awarded that truly puts into perspective his brilliance and ability, is the Haggerty Award. The Haggerty Award goes to the top player in the NYC area, one of basketball’s great hotbeds for both high school and collegiate hoops. Flores won the Haggerty Award in both 2003 and 2004, becoming only the 8th player ever to win the prestigious award more than once, a feat that puts him on a list with NBA Hall of Famer Chris Mullin. After graduating, Flores went on to the NBA and was drafted in the 2nd round by the Houston Rockets with the 55th overall pick and was later traded to the Dallas Mavericks and then the Golden State Warriors all during the 2004 offseason. Flores wound up only playing 16 games in the NBA but later went on to play professionally in Italy, Greece, Israel, Russia, Spain and the Ukraine, before heading back to the land of his ancestors, the Dominican Republic. Flores currently plays with the Licey Titans in the Dominican and has featured prominently for the Dominican Republic’s National Team over the past decade. Luis Flores has been a pure scorer everywhere he has been and though he never became an NBA star due to factors like his size (6’1”) and lack of NBA caliber strength, he will always be remembered as one of the top players in the MAAC and maybe “the best” Manhattan Jasper of all-time. Luis Flores was always worth the price of admission, as the smooth 6’2” guard from New York City could fill it up from anywhere on the floor and was amongst the top scorers in college basketball between 2000 and 2004. Flores makes the list because of his gaudy numbers, big performances in the NCAA Tournament and finally the way he keyed a dramatic turnaround at Manhattan College that took place during his time there and then disappeared after his graduation. Luis Flores was a program changing player and will always be remembered for his importance, scoring ability and leadership within the Manhattan basketball program.
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