Seven years after Tim Flowers helped launch Simeon's string of five state championships in seven years, he is back on the Wolverines' court trying to develop the players needed for more titles.
Flowers, a 6-foot-5 starter with Derrick Rose on the 2006 and 2007 Simeon Class AA state championship teams, was on the bench for Friday's game against Brooks serving as a sophomore assistant coach under Leonard Thomas.
"He has a great basketball IQ," Simeon varsity coach Robert Smith said. "There's a lot of stuff he has to learn about coaching, but he watches and he listens. He wants to get good at it.
"You never know how much longer I'm going to be here. Tim Flowers and Leonard Thomas are the two guys out of anybody I know that could keep this program on the same level it's at."
Flowers, 24, is the youngest of Simeon's assistants. Just a couple of years ago he was playing for Kennedy-King College before he decided it was time to move on from playing.
"I felt this would be the best program for me to learn the ropes and get acclimated to coaching," Flowers said. "Right now, I feel like I'm mature enough to do it. I feel like if I had been here any other time it wouldn't have been a full-on effort on my part. … I wanted to make sure I really gave my all to helping these young guys turn into better basketball players and better persons outside of basketball. I felt like I had something to offer them now."
Smith hopes players can relate to someone who so recently was in their shoes.
Flowers averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds his junior season and 17.6 points and 11.5 rebounds as a first-team All-State selection his senior season. His 35 points and 12 rebounds drove Simeon to a 77-54 victory over O'Fallon for the 2007 Class AA championship.
"Undersized, but tough. I didn't have to worry about nobody getting rebounds," Smith said. "Derrick was the come-to-the-court-and-play leader, but Tim was our vocal leader. We rolled with him."
After leaving Simeon, Flowers was hit by two controversies. He played in just 10 games in his freshman season at Wisconsin-Milwaukee before leaving the team in January 2008. He said Friday he "wasn't mentally there," in part due to family issues. In 2009, Flowers was named by Tribune sources to be one of four players, along with Rose, whose grades were changed by a Simeon employee during their senior seasons. Nothing came of the investigation because the employee was never identified.
Flowers landed at Kennedy-King, where he played basketball and earned his associate's degree in business management. He has remained close with Rose and other former teammates and said he works with Rose and Adidas as a type of "middle man," helping set up meetings and photo shoots.
He's 27 hours away from his bachelor's degree, which he said he wants so he can one day tell his 2-year-old daughter, "You've got to go get that piece of paper." He's thinking about a career with Chicago Public Schools, saying it's "a blessing" to work with the new Simeon players — and "talk a little smack back to them" when comparing teams.
"I think our teams were the best ever in Simeon (history)," Flowers said. "But these guys are about to win four state championships, so they might be able to knock us out of the books."