Next Play: Flowers Blooming

Balmore Ruano/Photography Intern

Derick Flowers is perhaps one of the most positive and energetic people walking the campus of UCI and representing the Anteaters on the basketball court. The junior, just shy of 21, acts beyond his years in his beliefs and his goals. This 6-foot point guard lives his dream every day here at UCI.

Flowers’ parents are originally from Belize, but he and his four older brothers grew up in Los Angeles. His older brothers got into a lot of trouble while they were growing up, but they didn’t want their kid brother to live a similar life. His brothers steered him in the right direction, encouraging him to take advantage of his gift — basketball.

Growing up, Flowers had a couple events that impacted him drastically. For one, his parents separated, which affected Flowers because he was incredibly attached to his father.

“My dad was the one who always got me off the hook,” Flowers said. “There was nothing like living with my parents together.”

In the sixth grade, Flowers’ grandfather passed away, and his mother left to take care of family matters back in Belize. Upon her return, there were issues with her immigration papers, delaying her homecoming. Flowers did not see his mom from the sixth grade until the day before his first day of high school. Without his mother, who he calls the most influential person in his life, Flowers felt lost and alone.

“This was definitely a wake-up call,” Flowers confessed. “I have such a great appreciation for her now; she means the world to me.”

Flowers grew up originally playing football. At the time, it was more fun hitting people than shooting a basketball. He didn’t start to take basketball seriously until the seventh grade. After meeting the right coaches, who guided him both on and off the court, Flowers made the permanent crossover to basketball.

Once Flowers met his high school coach, everything fell into place. His basketball career began at Pacific Hills High School. His success on the court not only led to his number being retired, but also winning the John Wooden Award in his sophomore year. The award serves as his proudest achievement in his basketball career. He was invited to a banquet where professional players like Kevin Durant and Candace Parker were in attendance.

“I got all their names on an autographed basketball; it was awesome,” Flowers said. “I also got this black glass plaque with John Wooden’s name on it.”

When Flowers entered college, he faced a lot of criticism. People told him that he was too small and that he couldn’t shoot. Instead of letting it get to him, Flowers used negative comments to motivate him. In fact, he made a poster, drawing the number zero plus all of the negative comments that anyone has ever said to him.

He chose zero as his jersey number; he was going to start from nothing.

Flowers is a believer in positive energy and hard work. In his mind, if people think positively, good things are bound to happen. He believes there is no need for negative energy on the court or in life.

“I will never forget what he said to me one day: ‘Wilder, we have to keep working. By the time we are juniors, we are going to start together, be leaders of the squad.” He never gave up hope on me, himself or the team; that’s just the type of person he is,” junior Michael Wilder said.

Wilder and Flowers just finished their junior season, both of whom were starters. Although he is not yet the team captain, he still sees himself as a leader. Last year, the ’Eaters had a coaching change in addition to a senior point guard, leaving Flowers with limited contributions. As the current starting point guard, Flowers’ opinions are valued more. Flowers has even developed a phrase: “next play.”

“Sometimes he makes plays that are frustrating to me, and he reminds me to move on with this phrase,” Coach Turner said. “I love the fact that he is willing to take chances and this will really help him develop as a player.”

As the point guard, Flowers has to be the one directing his teammates, telling them where to go and what to do. But he does this with gusto, the “energy guy” on the team.

“Coach always asks me why I’m always smiling,” Flowers said, laughing. “I’m just a very positive guy; I don’t see a need to dwell on the past.”

Flowers would love to be paid to do what he loves on the basketball court. If not, the criminology major hopes to become a youth probation officer, his way of giving back to his community.

He lost a lot of friends due to gangs and drugs as a youth in Los Angeles. His dream is to keep kids out of jail.

“The sky is the limit; there is no such thing as can’t; put your all into everything that you do.”