WILMINGTON — University of North Carolina-Wilmington Men’s Basketball standout Chris Flemmings helped put the Seahawks back on the map last season during the program’s first NCAA Tournament berth in a decade.
But, this holiday season it’s all about what student-athletes are doing off the court and the reigning CAA Preseason Player of the Year can boost an impressive resume outside of basketball. Flemmings has been named as a nominee for the 2017 All State National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Good Works Team.
The true test of an athlete’s character on the court is often measured by wins and losses. For Flemmings, the road to the top hasn’t been easy. From walking onto the UNCW team at the start of his junior year, to excelling at the highest level, Flemmings has not let his success get in the way of the person he’s become on and off the floor.
“Chris is a free spirit,” said UNCW Third-Year Head Coach Kevin Keatts. “What I mean by that is, he gets along with everybody. He cares about everybody. He’s a tremendous person. When you have someone with those types of qualities, it makes for a very special person.
“Everything Chris has ever had he’s earned,” Keatts added. “He’s hardworking and dedicated. When you get those qualities in a person, it makes you a give person and a loving person.”
For the fifth year, Allstate and the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) are recognizing a select group of men’s college basketball student-athletes for their remarkable community service achievements. Flemmings represents UNCW on the list as one of 183 student-athletes from across the country nominated for the Good Works Team.
“Life is bigger than basketball,” Flemmings said. “It’s important to give back to the community who supports us. When I was a little kid there were players who would come out and give back and it’s an honor to be on that list.”
One might think after earning a full scholarship following his impressive junior year in guiding UNCW to CAA Regular Season and Tournament Championships, Flemmings would put all his focus on his game. That couldn’t be further from the truth. While time management is one of the most important skills a college student-athlete needs to master, Flemmings has been able to navigate the rigors of school work and basketball, while still making time to give back the community he’s called home for the past two years.
His tireless dedication in giving back to others includes volunteering his time with the Brigade Boys and Girls Club, assisting with the CAA American Red Cross Blood Challenge, helping with the Walk For Hope 5K, Wrightsville Beach Marathon and Hotels for The Homeless initiative.
“I’m very thankful for the opportunity I’ve been placed in,” Flemmings added. “Not everyone gets that chance. I want to give back to kids and maybe inspire them to have the same dreams to reach their goals and not give up.”
Now 12 games into the 2016-17 season, UNCW is well on its way to surpassing goals set for this team. With an 11-1 start, the Seahawks are off to its best start in the 40-year history of the programs. Flemmings averages 35.7 minutes per game, second on the team with 17.6 points per game.
In addition to Flemmings’ work in the community, one of the biggest traits he carries with him on the floor is the ability to make his teammates better. Keatts took notice of that early on.
“None of this stuff is surprising to me when we talk about Chris,” Keatts said. “It was rewarding to me as a coach to hand a guy like Chris a scholarship who doesn’t have a sense of entitlement. In today’s time I consider Chris a throwback, who’s earned everything he has.
“All of his qualities make him a great teammate. I can put him out there with any four guys on the floor. He can fit in with any group no matter the personalities. He’ll find a way to fit in. He’s like a Swiss army knife in that he can do a little bit of everything. He’s truly embraced the idea of playing for the front the jersey.”
Whether or not Flemmings is eventually selected for the award doesn’t make much of a difference to a young man who credits his parents for instilling the qualities needed to battle through adversity and still come out on top. His success on the floor moving through his final year will not deter him from the special relationships and time he hopes to continue to give to his community even after he’s left his mark on campus and the court.
“My parents have always taught me to never give up on your dreams,” said Flemmings. “If you want something go get it and don’t let anyone stand in your way. You can’t be disappointed if you give everything you have to something. You can only be disappointed if you don’t try.”
Two special voting panels, headlined by former Duke University basketball athlete, two-time NCAA champion and seven-time NBA All-Star Grant Hill, and former Notre Dame basketball star, two-time Nancy Lieberman Award winner and current WNBA player Skylar Diggins, will select 10-member teams comprised of five student-athletes from the NCAA Division I level and five student-athletes from Divisions II, III and the NAIA. The final roster of 20 award recipients will be unveiled as part of the NABC Good Works Team in February.