Long Journey Leads to NCAA Tournament
The NCAA Tournament is the dream of every college basketball player. To be part of "March Madness" the ultimate goal through a long and trying season. For some the path seems relatively easy for others what got them to that point is a lot tougher journey.
Former Mt. San Jacinto standout Dejuan Flowers came to MSJC in the Spring of 2006 without a high school diploma and having played hardly any high school basketball. The 6'7" Hopkins, Minnesota native seized his opportunity to make his dreams come true. Sitting out that first Spring to start on his academics and get acclimated to California Flowers was steady, but hesitant when classes began. "I though school was going to be pretty tough," said Dejuan "I didn't really do school when I was in high school." With some guidance from Academic Advisor Jennifer Burleson and the support of his coaching staff Dejuan began to excel both on the floor and in the classroom.
When it came time to become an official member of the Eagles basketball team Head Coach Patrick Springer liked what he saw, but thought Dejuan needed to become more physical. So Springer assigned assistant John Brown to make Dejuan stronger. "The commitment he made in the weight room from a basketball stand point is what helped him get to the next level," said Brown. " I think once he saw that opportunity it helped him gain confidence not only in basketball, but in the classroom as well." Dejuan became a starter in his first season and by the end of the year he was averaging 10.7 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. Dejuan was often the biggest player on the floor for the Eagles and his new found strength served him well.
Once Dejuan had completed his first full year with the Eagles, his grades had been steady but not outstanding. In the Fall of 2007 Dejuan joined Mt. San Jacinto's Scholar Athlete Program and from there catapulted himself into a position that Division I basketball was now a real and reachable goal. "Dejuan was a student who struggled academically and was able to get involved with the program to get some extra assistance with tutoring and other support services on campus," said Burleson. Once his second basketball season got under way Dejuan really shined. He helped the Eagles to a Foothill Conference championship and was named First Team All Conference after averaging 13.3 points and 7.2 rebounds a game. When the recruiting began from Division I schools Dejuan was ready and academically had qualified to play at that level. "That's a long way to come for somebody that didn't graduate high school," said Dejuan "I have a lot of people to thank at Mt. San Jacinto for helping me." "Being around the coaches everyday and all the help I got from Jenn and some other people made all of this possible."
Now Dejuan will wait with his new team the North Dakota State Bison to take on the defending national champion Kansas Jayhawks in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Bison won the Summit League Championship last Tuesday night to qualify for the "Big Dance". Dejuan played in all 32 of N.D. State's games this year and scored 6 points and grabbed 4 rebounds in the championship game. "It's been a lot of fun," said Dejuan "We couldn't of asked for a better year."