August 8, 2023 

Why Spain’s Alicia Flórez could make the WNBA one day

'Rarely have I seen someone celebrate each positive action on defense; her energy is contagious'

Basketball is a global game, with an assortment of unique skill sets drawn from a player’s personality, the joy of the game and watching the players that came before them.

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For Alicia Flórez, a 19-year-old 2024 WNBA draft-eligible guard from León, Spain, the sport is an outlet for her to be intense, motivate her teammates and play with enthusiasm. After she picked up a basketball at 10 years old, she never looked back. 

Flórez’s game is a joyous experience, from no-look passes and crafty layups to deep pull-up jumpers. “I think I’ve always had this style of play and enthusiasm from what I learned from watching videos of professional players… like Luka Dončić and Magic Johnson,” Flórez told The Next.

She jumped onto the scene as the top scorer at the 2021 Spanish Junior Championship as a 17-year-old. And soon after, she made her professional debut during the 2021-22 season with Baloncesto Femenino León and averaged 13.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.3 steals per game across 24 games. 

“Flórez has stood out from a very young age, but always in her own way,” NBASpain’s Luis Vallejo told The Next. “She is a player with a special character, rarely have I seen someone celebrate each positive action on defense; her energy is contagious.”

Flórez made her debut within Spain’s national youth pipeline at the 2021 FIBA U18 European Challengers and made her 3×3 debut at the 2022 FIBA 3×3 U18 World Cup, where she led the team to a third-place finish. In the tournament, she scored 50 points across seven games — trailing only incoming LSU freshman Mikayla Williams.

This past season with NB Paterna Flórez suffered a meniscus injury that caused her to miss the first 29 games of the season. She returned on April 8, averaging 8.8 points on 60.0% shooting on 2-pointers and 44.4% on 3-pointers in her five games on the court.

The 5’9 guard was named to the 2023 FIBA U19 World Cup roster and her impact was immediately felt. She had 11 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals and went 3-5 from beyond the arc in Spain’s first group stage win over Australia.

Flórez is a quintessential modern WNBA guard; she is a dynamic scorer out of the pick-and-roll, combining on-ball creativity, a tight handle and excellent burst. She excels out of a high-powered transition offense with the ability to operate out of either guard spot — as displayed at the U19 World Cup.

On the other side of the ball, Flórez profiles as one of the upper-echelon guard defenders in the 2024 draft class; she has impressive lateral mobility, quick hands and plays with constant energy.

Flórez averaged 7.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.1 steals per game en route to a second-place finish, falling to Team USA in the tournament final.

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“Being able to play in the U19 World Cup was a dream come true, my teammates, coaches and fans were all amazing,” Flórez said. “Since I was young, it has always been instilled in me that I would not achieve anything without hard work. I think the team needed me there, being aggressive and willing to contribute on either side of the ball.”

Next, scouts will look to see how the flashy guard fairs throughout a full season in Europe’s highest level of competition with EuroLeague’s Valencia Basket, where Flórez signed a two-year contract through the 2024-25 season. While on the team, she will have the opportunity to learn under 28-year-old guard Leticia Romero, a former WNBA second-round draft pick and a top point guard in Europe. 

Flórez is one of the top draft-eligible international prospects in the 2024 class, but whether she’s a Top-20 prospect or a borderline draft pick come next April will likely depend on her free-throw development and ability to efficiently contribute on the offensive end at the highest level.

“I like the WNBA, it’s difficult to follow it too much, but I would be excited if part of my career is in the United States,” Flórez said.

When people talk about the 2024 WNBA Draft, the conversation is centered around the likes of Caitlin Clark, Paige Bueckers and Angel Reese, but the class’s depth goes international too, including Flórez.

Written by Hunter Cruse

Hunter Cruse covers the Atlanta Dream and the WNBA Draft for The Next.

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