This year has been a roller-coaster ride for Mountaineer fans, but the one consistent factor has been the outstanding play of senior forward John Flowers. Flowers has really grown (I was going to say "blossomed", but couldn't bring myself to do it) into his role throughout his time as a Mountaineer. As a freshman, his only job was to dance in the pre-game huddle. Now, as a senior, he's arguably the Mountaineers' finest player. Here are the top five reasons to love John Flowers:
1. Flowers is a very, very good player. He may not fill the scorebooks like some superstars, but this guy does it all. Block shots? No problem. Steals? Got you, and the opposition's best man, covered. Crash the boards? Flowers seems to live in mid-air sometimes. if there's something that can be done on the basketball court, odds are, Flowers can do it. Even his free-throw shooting has been a revelation. When Flowers came to campus he brought with him a 38 percent free throw percentage and the ugliest shooting form these eyes have ever seen. Flowers now shoots 78 percent from the line, arguably his most impressive achievement as a Mountaineer.
2. He's consistent. This season, the Mountaineers have been desperate for a player they can count on to contribute every time they hit the court. While other Mountaineers have oscillated between dominating and disappearing, Flowers can be counted on to do the things he does every night. The only thing which ever gets in his way is foul trouble, which becomes even more crucial with Danny Jennings dismissed from the team. You can pretty much pencil Flowers in for 12 points, eight boards, three blocks and two steals each game. The other Mountaineers with double-digit scoring averages got there by having a few high-scoring games to balance out the ones in which they disappear. Flowers just doesn't disappear.
3. He's getting bolder with the ball. While Flowers has always possessed a bold personality that has made him a fan favorite, he's becoming less shy with the basketball in his hands. Both the South Florida and Purdue wins found Flowers teeing up open threes from the wing and burying them when the team needed them most. Unlike much of the rest of the team, Flowers doesn't force his looks, and lets the game come to him. Lately, though, he's been taking advantage of the opportunities the opponent presents him. If he keeps hitting those threes, he'll no longer be scouted as a "defensive specialist." With Casey Mitchell currently suspended, the Mountaineers will need to get points from somewhere, and Flowers seems as good a place as any.
4. His defense. Long arms and quick feet make JFlow versatile enough to guard almost anyone on the floor. He's held Austin Freeman and Dwight Hardy well below their averages. Flowers' defensive effort on E'Twaun Moore in the Purdue game was the difference between the Mountaineers' getting the victory and being run off the court. Flowers' ability to knock an opposing team's best player out of his comfort zone is the most important arrow in WVU's quiver. West Virginia simply won't beat people by running up the score. If the 'Eers can play good defense and turn the game into a halfcourt grind, they're sitting pretty. John Flowers and his ability to guard anyone goes a long way towards making that happen.
5. He's fun! This might not mean much to many, but it means the world to Mountaineer fans who cant stand a sullen, woe-is-me type of attitude out of their players. Instead, Flowers' enthusiasm keeps Mountaineer fans smiling. Whether he's rocking a Cars backpack, doing the riverdance after beating Notre Dame, the John Wall dance after beating Kentucky, teaching fans (and Jay Jacobs!) how to Dougie, or simply tweeting up a storm, Flowers is easily one of the most likable players in college basketball today.