When Simeon Career Academy’s new boys varsity basketball head coach Tim Flowers received the call that he would be succeeding the legendary Robert Smith on the bench he knew his prayers had been answered. 

Flowers remembered receiving a call from coach Smith about becoming Simeon’s next varsity boys head coach in March 2021 during a routine bike ride in the Beverly community, where he then resided.

“(Smith) was just telling me, ‘I just don’t think there’s anyone better. I’ve been waiting on someone who I feel comfortable enough with. I just want you to know when I leave I want you to be the next head basketball coach at Simeon,’” Flowers said. 

“There was a lot of excitement associated with it, but it’s also something I prayed for. I prayed for this opportunity. So when he said that I knew that God heard my prayers.” 

For Flowers, his faith and love for the game of basketball have become intertwined over the years to help him become the person he is today. 

“Whenever that day comes that I’m called to heaven I don’t think I’ll be allowed into those gates just because I won some championships or just because I won some basketball games,” Flowers said. “It’s literally going to be about the lives I’ve touched.”

Building lasting positive relationships with his players is a matter of great importance to Flowers, who told The TRiiBE in an phone interview that he still receives messages from former players from his days as a head coach at DuSable High School about the birth of their children and other events from their lives.

“My goal – more so than winning basketball games and championships – is that my kids can come back 10, 15 years from now and talk about how much they loved playing for me, learning from me, and being around me,” Flowers said. 

Flowers’ current contribution to his alma mater is not limited to just the basketball court – he is also in his first year as the freshman attendance coordinator at Simeon, a position where he oversees 295 students. 

Flowers can attest to the power of a connection between a coach or teacher and the youth they help lead. As Flowers entered Simeon, it was around the time its legendary coach Robert Hambric, an Illinois basketball legend and member of the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, taught him one of the most important lessons he learned during his time in high school, a lesson that came off the court. 

Hambric did not allow Flowers to play in a game as a freshman – a game which became the team’s only loss of that season – because he earned a “D” on his progress report. For years after, Flowers believed Hambric’s decision was personal. However, two weeks before Hambric passed away in August of 2009, Flowers learned that the coach thought the world of him. 

“He told me, ‘The reason why I didn’t let you play is because I knew that you were the leader of that team, and if I would allow you to be comfortable with not doing what you need to do in the classroom it would have trickled down to everybody else,’” Flowers said. 

Flowers understands now that many lessons that adults try to impart on teenagers do not resonate until later, and he lets that belief inform his approach to his players and students. 

“Sometimes they don’t pick up on what you’re trying to teach them right away, but if you are consistent and persistent in your message, eventually it’s going to click,” Flowers said. 

Looking ahead to this season, Flowers has made it clear that the standard of excellence set down by Hambric and continued through Smith will be maintained. He says the Wolverines’ goals each year are to win the Chicago Public High School League championship, a state championship, and the annual Pontiac Holiday Tournament, a state-wide prep basketball showcase that Simeon has won at least 16 times since 1996.

Flowers, a staunch low-post presence on two Class AA state basketball champions (2006, 2007), says his teams will resemble the Wolverines’ signature team-first, disciplined basketball, as well as elements of modern basketball encouraging positionless, highly-skilled play. 

At the time of Flowers’ interview with The TRiiBE no players were selected to Simeon’s varsity roster as team activities officially begin on November 6. Flowers set November 11 as a tentative day for tryouts. The first game of Simeon’s varsity boys basketball team will be against Lone Peak High School (Highland, Utah) on Nov. 20.

is a freelance contributor for The Triibe.