HERMISTON — When Hermiston senior Chance Flores stepped off the court following a 65-50 loss to Parkrose in the 5A boys basketball play-in round, he knew nothing more than he wasn’t ready for it to end.
Injuries during his junior and senior seasons had assured Flores and his 17-points-per-game average had flown under the radar of collegiate coaches and recruiters. That could have been that. But Flores, a 6-foot-1 guard who also averaged 5.7 rebounds, 3.5 steals and 3.2 assists his senior season, had been dreaming of playing college basketball since the sixth grade and wasn’t ready to leave it there.
“Someone one time told me, ‘Don’t quit something until you’re forced to,’” he said of some words of advice from Hermiston’s Dennis Stefani, a former assistant with the boys’ program and the Bulldogs’ girls JV head coach. “He told me that a long time ago and it just stuck with me.”
With the assistance of Hermiston head coach Casey Arstein, he compiled his best highlights and started sending them out. One of the first programs Flores contacted was Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton, and when head coach Gavin Burt returned his interest Flores said he didn’t expand his search much further.
On Monday Flores officially brought his short search for a college landing spot to a close when he signed a National Letter of Intent to join the BMCC Timberwolves in the fall.
Surrounded by family, friends and teammates during a ceremony at Hermiston Highh, Flores said there were two people he especially needed to thank for making him the player he is today.
The first was his older brother C.J., a 2014 HHS graduate.
“The biggest thing was my brother would always push me and at first it wasn’t me trying to be great. It was me trying to be better than my older brother,” he said. “We played basketball and then he was always better than me and he’d always push me, and then sooner or later it grew into ‘Wow I really like this.’ And now it’s something I really want to push for.”
The second was his eighth grade coach Brian Moss.
“He really changed basketball for me, he just completely turned me around,” he said. “I was an OK player and he really formed me into who I was coming into high school. He really helped me a lot. Always was there after a rough game to give me a talk up.”
The Timberwolves listed 13 freshmen on their roster in 2016-17, but Flores said Burt told him there will be plenty of opportunity for him to get on the court early.
“I’m hoping so, I was talking to Coach a little bit and he said there’s not a lot of returners left so that just definitely opens up a window, I’ve just got to keep working hard,” Flores said.
He plans to work toward his associates degree in business with the intention of entering an electrician’s apprenticeship upon completion, but had to defer to Stefani again when considering his future.
“I’d like to (play at a four-year school). I’ll play my two years there (at BMCC), or one year, and we’ll see where it goes,” he said.