NEWARK, NJ-Chris Flores, who graduated from NJIT last May after starring four years for the Highlanders in men's basketball, is carrying his success on the court forward as a professional player in Germany, where he is starring for Uni-Riesen Leipzig of the "second ProB league".
Flores, who is fluent in Spanish, was a pro in the Dominican Republic this summer between graduation and signing to play in Europe. In Leipzig, he is scoring 13 points per game for the team that is off to a 2-1 start. His best game to date was his most recent, when he scored 17 points, with 8 assists and 6 steals in an 82-64 win over Langen on October 12.
"Chris did a great job in his tenure here at NJIT," said coach Jim Engles of the guard he recruited and coached. "He helped us win a championship, was a great student, and represented NJIT in a first-class manner. We all know that he will be very successful in his next journey."
The early pro success follows a Highlanders career in which Flores scored 1,724 points, the highest in NJIT's Division I era (since 2006-07) and fifth-highest in program history. He was also the program DI standard-setter in games (122; also 1st overall); assists (330; 7th overall); and steals (212; 3rd overall). In addition, he was the career scoring leader among all players and schools in the Great West Conference.
His senior year (2012-13) capped his career, as he produced his best season, helping key NJIT's most successful DI season (16 wins overall and the regular season championship of the Great West).
Flores, who averaged 16.9 points and 2.4 steals per game as a senior, was named Great West Conference Player of the Year in official voting by the coaches and sports information directors after leading the Highlanders to their first-place finish. He was also consensus Player of the Year among media outlets that named their own all-conference teams.
Beyond that, he was named honorable mention on the Associated Press All-America team, as well as being voted onto the National Association of Basketball Coaches Division I All-District team for District 13 (the first Highlander voted all-district by the NABC since NJIT began Division I competition). He was also named third-team All-Met (NY, NJ, CT) by the Met Basketball Writers Association. On campus, he was named 2012-13 Male Athlete of the Year for the entire NJIT athletics program.
A native of the Dorchester area of Boston, Flores opened his senior year with 28 points in a 64-63 loss at Providence, which would finish its season by advancing to the quarterfinals of the National Invitation Tournament. That outburst equaled the NJIT Division I single-game scoring mark, which he had done earlier in his career and he would do later in the season. He would score 20 or more points in 11 different 2012-13 games and reached double-figures 24 times, including each of the last 14 regular season games.
Against NAIA opponent Fisher (MA), Flores scored 32 points in 23 minutes, making all 11 of his shots from the floor, including seven 3-point tries, and all three of his foul shots. His feat earned him Number 3 on the ESPN SportsCenter Top 10 the following day and ESPN reported that it was the first time since 2007 that a player scored at least 30 points without missing a shot and making at least seven threes.
Prior to the 2103 National Basketball Association draft in June, Flores was one of six prospects brought in by the Brooklyn Nets for a special pre-draft workout. Guided by Brooklyn's Director of Player Personnel Gregg Polinsky, Flores showed his wares alongside five other perimeter prospects. The Nets ultimately picked Duke big man Mason Plumlee.
Leipzig is located in the heart of Germany and is the second-biggest town (after Berlin) in what was East Germany prior to unification.
The name Uni-Riesen combines "Uni", the abbreviation for "university", with "Riesen", the German word for "giants". The club's origins are as a college team, but it employs professional players in a sports structure where the leading teams have pros, usually a least a couple who played college ball in the United States.
Last season, for the first time, Uni-Riesen Leipzig played in the 2nd German Basketball League ProA. However, the team was relegated and is playing this season in 2nd league ProB.
With a revamped roster, Flores joins two veterans of German pro ball and will be counted on for his ability to play "American-style" basketball.
Said Uni-Riesen Leipzig coach Martin Scholz: "Chris is a very important puzzle piece in our game plan. We took our time to find the right player on that position and I am very glad that Chris decided to join our team. He is young, hungry and always has the will to win. He had great statistics (in college) and fits perfectly with our other players. With Chris, we have a really good mix concerning the guard and wing positions."
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