February 25, 2022
Brooke Flowers is the glue at Saint Louis
The “hometown kid” has made her name in the record book and off the court at Saint Louis
Every time Saint Louis’ Brooke Flowers steps into the gym for practice, she goes to each player, coach and trainer and gives them a hug with a smile on her face. Only after she finishes does she pick up a basketball.
Flowers described her fifth-grade self as the “furthest thing from natural when it came to basketball.” She had a tendency to travel every time she got the ball and as soon as the ball touched her hands shouts of “pass it, pass it” would fill the gym.
While Flowers may not have been a natural on the court, her ball-handling skills would soon grow to match the energy she brought to the court from Day 1. Despite her lack of early success, Flowers enjoyed the social aspect and camaraderie of basketball after only participating in individual sports, including tennis and track and field, prior. Being a part of a team is what kept her coming back to the gym.
Flowers, a St. Louis native, graduated from Metro Academic and Classical High School in 2018 as the state of Missouri’s all-time leader in rebounds (1,563), blocks (803) and double-doubles (87) in addition to holding the school- and conference record in scoring, with 2,045 career points. She also led the state in blocks in all four years of high school and set the record for third-most blocks in Missouri girls’ basketball history by blocking 16 shots in a single game.
Even with a successful high school career, Flowers came to Saint Louis with little to no expectation of what she would accomplish.
“I was not sure what was going to happen or how things were going to go because you can be a great player in high school, but everybody in college was a wonderful player in high school,” Flowers told The Next. “So you never know how things are going to translate, I came in with an open mind, just thankful for the opportunity.”
Her height, length, athletic build and success in the classroom stood out to Saint Louis head coach Lisa Stone from the beginning of the recruiting process.
Flowers started her career at Saint Louis off strong, averaging 8.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game, enough to earn Atlantic 10 All-Rookie team and All-Defensive team honors after the 2018-19 season. After taking a step back in her sophomore year, she rebounded and has averaged a double-double each of the last two seasons.
She is currently averaging 10.9 points, 11.3 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per game, the latter of which is good for third in the nation.
“You can’t teach 6’5, she’s always been a superior shot blocker and rim protector and great defender,” Stone told The Next. “But she’s always willing to learn, she’s had a few different post coaches in her position but she’s gravitated toward being great. She’s not going to be someone who’s going to push you around, but she’s going to be someone that can go around you.”
Stone also praised Flowers’ basketball IQ, noting that if you ask her about a scouting report, Flowers will know even the opposing point guard’s tendencies.
Flowers said that she has a defensive mindset and believes her offensive skillset, which took time to begin to flourish, is still a work in progress. She credits her teammates, including guards Ciaja Harbison and Julia Martinez, for putting her in the right position to score and allowing her offensive success to happen.
“[Ciaja] drives and she attracts so much attention and then she’ll throw me some shovel passes or dump passes,” Flowers said. “And Julia, she has a good eye for threading the needle and knowing where to put the ball and how to get the pass in the right place.”
On Jan. 19, Flowers became Saint Louis’ all-time blocks leader, tallying her 218th career block against St. Bonaventure.
“If someone told me as a freshman that this is where I would be as a senior, I don’t think I would believe them,” Flowers said. “I definitely exceeded my expectations. And sometimes I still can’t believe it.”
Her teammate, Myriama Smith Traore, referred to Flowers’ blocks as an “x-factor statistic” and believes they are a product of Flowers’ extra hustle, extra heart and drive to protect the paint.
While it’s not typically part of her skillset, Flowers hasn’t missed a three-point attempt in her career, sinking all three of them, one in each of her first three collegiate seasons. Each made three came in a win, Jan. 13, 2019, against Dayton; Dec. 30, 2019, against Indiana State; and Jan. 24, 2021, against Massachusetts.
“It’s a running joke in practice because we’ll practice and sometimes I’ll knock ’em down and I’ll be like, ‘we all know who the real shooter is’ because I’m 100% in my career,” Flowers said with a laugh.
While Flowers isn’t sure if she’ll attempt a three this season, Stone believes she will find just the right moment to.
For Smith Traore, Flowers’ selective three-point shooting is another example of Flowers putting the team on her back.
Flowers originally chose to stay close to home to remain near her family, she was also looking for a program that felt like home and found both at Saint Louis.
“Our team is really close-knit, and we all enjoy our time together, we have a lot of fun and we laugh a lot,” Flowers said. “So it feels like a family here and my family is right down the street. So it’s the best of both worlds.”
Remaining in St. Louis also means that each game day Flowers is able to look up at the same seat and see her mother as well as other family members, cheering her on. With her daughter so close, Flowers’ mother has yet to miss a game.
Despite Flowers’ mother never playing basketball herself, Flowers said that her mother was her biggest influence in the sport growing up, pushing her daughter to be the best she can be and to always give 100% on the court. Flowers also noted that the intangibles, including her passion and never-quit mentality, come from her mother who wants to see her do her best, never give up and keep chasing her dreams.
Flowers grew up going to Saint Louis women’s basketball games and fondly remembers watching former greats including Sadie Stipanovich, Maddison Gits and Olivia Jakubicek and taking things she saw at these games and adding them to her skillset. She is thankful she has the ability to be a hometown kid and called the experience “surreal.”
“It means a lot to me that I can be something that somebody else was for me growing up,” Flowers said.
For all her success on the court, Stone noted that the best part of Flowers’ day is being together as a team.
“She’s the glue to our culture,” Stone said. “She defines what we stand for, being a strong student-athlete. She makes great choices. She’s a leader. She’s a friend. She holds people accountable, continues to hold herself accountable. She’s been a two-time captain. And leads us both on and off the floor.”
Flowers hopes that she’s been able to teach her teammates to never give up, always work hard and always believe in themselves.
Smith Traore, who has been unable to play this season after suffering a season-ending injury in October, said that Flowers taught her how to put love and passion into everything she does.
“Brooke always gives 100% on the court, off the court,” Smith Traore told The Next. “When I was healthy, she was always a person that I looked to for energy and for enthusiasm. So she’s really taught me how to be consistent with that and give that to others.”
Stone appreciates Flowers’ resiliency and smile that shines through wins, losses and adversity.
For Smith Traore, one word to describe Flowers is passion.
“You only have to watch her for like five minutes to see that,” Smith Traore said. “She’s the one cheering, screaming on the court. She’s the one laying out for loose balls and flying around for rebounds. So I really think that passion is the epitome of what Brooke Flowers is.”
Though this season is not over yet, Flowers already knows she’s coming back for a fifth year at Saint Louis. She chose to come back to be able to continue to compete alongside her teammates and play another season close to home.
Another reason Flowers is coming back for a fifth year is to get her master’s degree in athletic training. Originally, she had wanted to become a physical therapist but during her freshman year, Flowers developed a close relationship with the now-former team athletic trainer Petra Knight. Knight’s interactions with her and the rest of the team shifted Flowers’ future goals and what she saw herself doing in the future toward caring for college athletes.
She hopes to care not only for student-athletes physically but also emotionally. Flowers hopes to be someone a student-athlete can feel comfortable talking to about any issue, relating to sports or not because she believes it’s something every student-athlete needs and deserves.
Before she pursues a career as an athletic trainer, Flowers hopes to play professionally. Stone said that she and her coaching staff will help find a place for Flowers overseas when the time comes, noting “the sky’s the limit for Brooke.”
Over the years basketball has taught Flowers to be resilient, keep fighting and believe in herself.
“It’s really true that basketball does teach you lessons that you’ll be able to carry on with you for the rest of your life,” Flowers said.
She later added, “I’m thankful to have had the college basketball experience because I know that it’s taught me to keep working and to stay determined and keep fighting no matter what. And that’s definitely a lesson that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.”
Flowers’ picked her number, 42, when she started playing basketball and has worn it on almost every team she’s played on, only switching up her number on an occasional AAU team. While her skills developed and her game changed, the number on her back rarely did.
As Flowers has grown up, basketball grew up with her. As time goes on she continues to learn from it and it continues to be her favorite activity and a place where she can go to forget about everything else. Basketball has remained consistent, while the world around her changes.
“The court is 9 feet and the rims are 10 feet high, so basketball, for the most part, is always the same,” Flowers said. “They moved the three-point line, but that’s about it.”
Written by Natalie Heavren
Natalie Heavren has been a contributor to The Next since February 2019 and currently writes about the Atlantic 10 conference, the WNBA and the WBL.
Great article (again) Natalie!! Thoroughly enjoyed it!
Wonderful story on Brooke Flowers! Thank you very much! We are all so proud in St. Louis and the PHL of Brooke!