Ask Oak Park and River Forest High School senior Dallis Flowers to pick his signature moment with the Huskies and a litany of sweet plays on the basketball court and football field quickly emerge as plausible candidates.
The 6-1 point guard has scored 20 points or more six times this season already, including 21 against cross-town rival Fenwick at the Blue Cross Blue Shield Chicago Elite Classic hosted by UIC on Dec. 5. While he’s not quite as deadly from long range as the Splash Brothers (aka Steph Curry and Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors), he’s shooting 37.9 percent from beyond the three-point arc. Flowers has also become a more-than-capable penetrator with an ability to either score or pass in the paint.
During the fall, Flowers excelled as a defensive back/special teams returner for the football team, which finished 7-3. He returned a kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown against York and a punt 70 yards for another score against Morton. On the latter, fellow returner Kamal Bey threw a lateral pass across the width of the field to Flowers, who caught the ball and darted through a series of Mustangs en route to paydirt.
While the aforementioned plays create a heckuva highlight reel, Flowers’ favorite athletic memory, while donning the burnt orange and navy blue, involved an impromptu dance party. The exultant feeling swept Flowers and his basketball teammates after the Huskies edged Schaumburg 32-30 in overtime to win the Class 4A Glenbard North Regional championship in 2013.
As for the best part of that celebration, that’s easy.
“Everybody was going crazy in the locker room and [OPRF coach Matt] Maloney started dancing,” Flowers recalled with a laugh. “It was great to see him let go and enjoy that victory with us. He’s been like a father figure for me.”
Maloney’s recollection of that moment is more vivid.
“When we won that regional, the players showered me with a Gatorade jug as I walked into the locker room,” Maloney said. “It actually knocked me down and they thought I would get mad. They were all dancing and asked me to join in. Even though I was soaked in Gatorade and water, I started dancing and joined the party.
“I remember looking at the team picture that season and Dallis looks like he’s in fifth grade, about 5-4 and 150 pounds soaking wet. Now you see him and he’s 6-1 with a strong frame and very competitive spirit. He’s really matured as a young man and player.”
Flowers’ development on the basketball court has been substantial. As a junior, he provided instant offense off the bench while affording starting guards Erick Locke and Jason Gant a breather. This season, the wiry guard is the Huskies’ leading scorer, primary ball handler, second-best rebounder, and an essential perimeter defender. He’s averaging 15.9 points and 3.5 rebounds.
“I’ve been playing well, but there’s always ways to improve,” he said. “I can hustle more and play better defense. We’ve also been picking it up as a team.”
Flowers also flourished on the gridiron with two interceptions, 23 tackles, and 13 pass breakups. He returned seven kickoffs for 195 yards (27.9 yards per return) and four punts for 70 yards (17.5 yards per return). A scoring threat whenever he had the ball, Flowers scored five touchdowns and had 537 all-purpose yards.
“I think we did pretty well although losing [39-15 to Barrington] in the first round was a disappointment,” he said. “We should have made a run in the playoffs. I didn’t play much offense, but I tried to score touchdowns on special teams and defense. Coach Hoerster is a great coach who pushed me to realize my potential.”
Like John Hoerster, Maloney has challenged Flowers to evolve as a player, particularly for a young hoops team which lost leaders like Locke, Gant and Simmie Cobbs to graduation.
An undersized starting lineup, lapses in focus, and the infusion of several talented but inexperienced underclassmen like Alan Griffin, Cameron Gross and Jared Scott have contributed to the Huskies’ 9-8 record and mercurial performances. With Flowers as a stabilizing force, however, OPRF appears poised to establish more consistency.
“When it comes to crunch time, I know Dallis will come through and make a play for us,” said OPRF guard Sam Francis, who played football with Flowers. “He’s a clutch player. My job is to give guys like Dall and Breshawn [Wilkerson] a break so they can come back in and do their thing.”
Flowers and Wilkerson are good friends who make up the Huskies’ starting backcourt. They also played in the secondary together on the football team.
“Dallis is a special guy,” Wilkerson said. “He’s a playmaker in both basketball and football. He’s been playing both sports longer than me, so I like to pick his brain for advice.”
Flowers’ athleticism jumps off the page in both sports, but he also possesses many of the invaluable intangibles common among multi-sport athletes.
“I love kids who play multiple sports like Dallis because they bring to the football field all the tangible and intangible abilities from their other sports,” Hoerster said. “Dallis’ drive, competitiveness and savvy, along with his feel for the game carry over between sports. He was a tremendous weapon for us when he had the football in his hands.”
Although his short-term focus is the remainder of the basketball season, Flowers would like to pursue either basketball or football (or both) in college. Triton, Morton and Parkland have expressed recruiting interest for college basketball. Playing football for Robert Morris University is another option.
“It’s hard to pick a sport because I love them both,” Flowers said. “I love playing on the big stage. That’s where the best players come to play.”