John Flowers Wins Title in France - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

John Flowers Wins Title in France

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MORGANTOWN - Some former Mountaineers are going international these days and making a home, and a living, overseas.

This past weekend, across the Atlantic Ocean in Bourg, France, John Flowers secured his first championship in professional basketball.

There was a time, not long ago, when a former college star could travel overseas and disappear off the face of the earth for all his old fans knew. These days, with social media what it is, fans can follow their favorite players in Europe just as easily as they could if the basketball was back here in the States.

On Sunday, Flowers posted a video from his perspective as his team rode through what was presumably its hometown of Bourg as fans swarmed during a celebratory parade.

In photos of him and his teammates celebrating, the championship t-shirts read “Ici, Ici,” which translates to “here, here” in French. It’s part of a larger catch phrase for the team, “Ici, ici c’est Bourg en Bresse.” Mountaineer fans may recall Flowers’ frequent shout outs to his group of friends that he referred to as “So Icy” when he starred for West Virginia. “Ici” is close enough.

Flowers certainly did his part to bring the title to Bourg, finishing second on the team in both points (12.4) and rebounds (4.5) in a 31-13 season.

Throughout his pro career, whether it be his first season in Japan or now two years in France, Flowers has made sure that anyone back in the Mountain State interested in continuing to root for their Mountaineers is kept up to date on what he is up to. He posts photos and videos to Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, publishing aspects of his basketball career, sure, but also of his daily life in a new culture. It’s as much a way for him to stay connected with his friends, family and fans back home as it is for them to keep tabs on his escapades after Morgantown.

Da’Sean Butler is similar in this regard, as the new father plays his first full season of overseas basketball as a member of Okapi Aalstar in Belgium.

The former Final Four leader averages more than 16 points and four rebounds per contest and has helped guide his team into the finals. On Sunday, Okapi Aalstar fell to Oostende in Game 1 of a best of five series. Aalstar will host Game 2 in the Okapi Forum Tuesday night, trying to even the series.

The official team website advertises the match-up with a flyer that reads “Let’s (B)eat them,” complete with dinosaur puppets used in a local carnival, which may or may not be on hand to terrorize (or eat?) the opposing team on game night.

The mere fact that Butler is still competing with Aalstar at this late stage of the season is a great sign for a player who has never been able to keep his knee healthy after colliding with Duke’s Brian Zoubek in the 2010 Final Four. Wherever the game takes him next, coaches will want to know that he can take the grind of a full slate if they bring him on board.

Of course, Butler isn’t the first former Mountaineer to suit up for Okapi Aalstar. Alex Ruoff once called Belgium home, but this past season, he gave his talents to Goettingen in Germany.

Ruoff’s squad did what Flowers’ has, taking the title back in the early part of May. The guard helped his team to a 26-4 overall record, averaging 16.8 points and 4.2 assists per outing.

Following the championship run, Ruoff came back to Morgantown to visit his old stomping grounds. When reached over the weekend, Flowers said he would also be on his way back to his alma mater as soon as he returned from all of the parades and photo sessions that came with winning his title. Butler likely will not be far behind.

So many of the former West Virginia basketball players come back to get reacquainted with their old friends and coaches in the area and, yes, to utilize the practice facility as they train for the next season. Kevin Jones is currently doing just that after wrapping up a short season in the Philippines.

“It’s fun to keep in contact with those guys and we’ll always remain family, no matter where we go,” Jones said of his former teammates. “I keep in contact with John, Da’Sean [and] Truck [Bryant] on the regular, so it’s always going to be a family atmosphere and we’re always going to be rooting for each other.”

That brotherhood extends beyond the borders as these Mountaineers play the game they love, regardless of where it takes them. 

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