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Flowers a happy camper at Judge

 

Jalen Flowers has been doing his best to get new players on the Father Judge basketball team ready to play. PHOTO: JOSH RIFKIN

Jalen Flowers loves basketball camp.

Whether he’s learning or teaching, he loves being at them.

Flowers is a senior on the Father Judge High School basketball team, and growing up he would hit all the camps he could to hone his skills and learn from guys he considered legends. Now, he’s the budding legend who is doing his best to pass on all the knowledge he has picked up from his coaches and mentors.

“I love working them and I think a lot of the kids look up to me, I hope they do,” said Flowers, who helped out this year with the Philly Revolution and the St. Ephrem basketball camp in Bensalem. “I remember when I was at those camps, I always looked up to the guys who were running them. I think it’s kind of cool to be part of that. I like working with the kids and helping them get better. They have fun, too.

“I help with the Revolution because it’s my AAU team. And I do St. Ephrem’s because it’s run by Dan Williams, and he’s been a big part of my basketball life. He’s always trying to make me better. He’s always looked after me so I like working his camp. I went to his camp when I was younger, so now I’m teaching it.”

Flowers love showing others the ropes, and this year with Judge, he’s ready to continue that role. The Crusaders have a new coach in Chris Roantree. They also have a lot of new faces after graduating their top players last year, including Nahseer Johnson and Justin Blythe, who are now playing in college.

Flowers and Jordan Reinhardt are the two returning starters. The other returning senior on the team is Mark Boyle. Flowers is ready to be the guy whom everyone comes to with questions on how to do things the Crusader way. It’s a job he’s been doing all summer during summer leagues and one he’s looking forward to doing once the Catholic League season begins.

“I think we’re going to be really good this year, I’m really excited about everything,” said Flowers, who started on the wing a season ago. “I really like our new coach. He’s got a great demeanor and there’s a great atmosphere. Everything here is like a family. We had that before, and now we still have it. It’s going really well so far.

“I think we’re going to be good. We have four or five transfers who are really good and they’re going to make us better. We have to put it all together, but we have talent and we all like playing with each other. We have work to do, though.”

Judge fans will enjoy coming to games this year just to watch Flowers. He’s a typical hard-nosed Father Judge basketball player. And he believes he’s capable of having a great senior season after an inconsistent junior season.

“Last year was really hard because of COVID,” said Flowers, who along with his teammates played just one home game because of the coronavirus. “I didn’t play my best. We really didn’t have an off-season, everything felt really rushed. We just went out and played. It was a lot harder because we didn’t know what was going on. And we were really young. We had great seniors, but I don’t think people knew how young we were.”

This year will be a lot different.

And Flowers hopes Judge fans will come out to show their support for the upstart Crusaders. He promises to bring the type of basketball attitude the school has been known for.

“I try to bring energy and I think the best thing I do is play defense,” said Flowers, who averaged a little over five points per game last year in his second campaign as a starter. “I love to go out and dive for a loose ball or to take a charge. I do things that might not be noticed by a lot of people, but they notice (at Judge). I hope Judge guys like the way I play, I try to play the right way.”

Colleges are taking note.

This summer, thanks in part to his strong AAU efforts and the potential he’s shown against tough competition in the Catholic League, he’s been hearing from colleges and he hopes to figure out where he’s playing this year.

He also has his future somewhat figured out.

“I want to do something like being a trainer or sports medicine,” said Flowers, who does well in school. “I love being around sports and I think I would like working in the medical field. My parents are both in the medical field. My mom is an X-ray technician and my dad cleans all of the instruments before they’re used in the operating room. Both are really important jobs. I would like to do something in that field, too.”

But before he’s rehabbing patients, he hopes to get the Crusaders back on their feet.

“I’ll do whatever I can to help this team,” said Flowers, who lives in Morrell Park. “I just want to play, help my teammates get involved, make the playoffs, win a lot of games, and if possible, I would love to be All-Catholic, but that’s just something I want as an individual goal. I’m way more worried about team goals.

“I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people. We’re going to be good.”

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