By Nate Beutel
They always say Mama knows best. And in the case of Jonny Flynn’s future, it goes beyond that — Mama knows it all.
“He wants to go to college, get an education, play basketball and enjoy the whole college experience, but at the same time, I know he would like to make it to the league some day,” Flynn’s mother, Deidre, said. “He wants to give back to the community, too.”
And while there’s certain to be a plethora of memories from this winter, it never hurts to take a glimpse into the futurity of the Syracuse signee.
The Path to ’Cuse
When experts say that Flynn was sold on Syracuse University from the beginning, they aren’t kidding.
“I never thought of anyone else but Syracuse,” Flynn said.
It’s not like other schools didn’t want him, though.
“They were the first high major to offer me,” Flynn said. “UB was interested since like the fourth grade when I went to their camp. Reggie (Witherspoon) told me I was always going to be special and I’d look good in blue and white. And I used to go to NU camps and coach Mihalich would say the same thing.”
And according to former Niagara Falls varsity basketball coach Dan Bazzani, Stanford was actually the first high-major to inquire about Flynn.
But there was no way Flynn was going to play his home games anywhere other than the Carrier Dome.
“I can’t see myself with another jersey on.” he said. “I’m glad the pieces to the puzzle were put in place so I could go to Syracuse. I love the fan support and the community around there.”
Flynn’s father, William, agreed.
“It was a good deal, a good bet,” he said. “We didn’t go or take any trips anywhere else. And for me and my wife it’s not too far, right up the 90, so we can go to all the games and get a chance to see him play.”
For now, Flynn sits in the stands and watches his future teammates as they struggle to stay in the Top 25 rankings.
But come next year, Flynn, the 21st ranked senior in the nation by rivals.com, is planning on taking some of those guys’ minutes and doing his part in the ‘Cuse making another run at a national title.
In fact, according to Niagara Falls assistant coach Sal Constantino, Flynn’s hope is to come in and run the point as a freshman.
“His goal is to get there and take (current starter) Josh Wright’s spot,” Constantino said. “And he’ll put the work in to do it. He’ll shoot 300 jump shots a day, he’ll hit the weights, he’ll do whatever it takes.”
Jerry Meyer, national scout for rivals.com.
“I expect him to take over the point spot next year,” Meyer said. “He has the type of game that will fit well there.”
Flynn said that he’ll work his tail off, but was a bit more modest in his assessment of Wright and where he fits in in the rotation.
“Josh Wright is doing pretty good, so I just want to go in and have him teach me things,” he said. “I would love to start, but I don’t see anything wrong with learning a little from somebody that has done it for four years. But hopefully I can come in and play early.”
Another incentive for playing early is getting an opportunity to play with former high school teammate Paul Harris. Add to that the fact that the Orange have a Top 3 recruiting class with four prospects ranked in the Top 100 nationally and Flynn believes there are great things to come in the near future at Syarcuse.
“If everyone stays (in school) and with our recruiting class coming in, we could definitely compete for a national championship,” Flynn said.
NBA: Dream or reality?
Flynn has always dreamed of lacing his high tops up and slipping on a New York Knicks jersey at Madison Square Garden.
But could that dream actually come to fruition some day?
“We think so,” Meyer said. “We have him rated as a five-star recruit because we think he could play at that level.”
Meyer went on to say that playing against top level talent during the summer on the AAU circuit is one of the biggest determining factors if a player has the skill and potential to play in the NBA.
Flynn, who’s played against Greg Oden, the probable No. 1 pick in next June’s Draft, agreed.
“AAU is much bigger than high school,” he said. “A couple years ago there was a team with Dwight Howard (Orlando Magic) and Josh Smith (Atlanta Hawks) on the same team. If you play a team like that and play good against them you’ll be noticed by the college and pro scouts.”
And while it’s undoubted that Flynn has the skills to play professional basketball, his size (6-foot) is always a question mark for pro scouts.
But if you listen to Meyer, he’s not buying it.
“Combine his great athleticism and his shot and he can definitely overcome his height disadvantage,” he said. “I’m not saying it’ll be easy to overcome his height, but he has the attributes that a needs to do so.
“And plus Jonny has a lot of heart and thrives in those kind of circumstances.”
Admittedly when it comes time to hang ‘em up, whenever that may be, Flynn is still unsure of what he’ll be doing.
He’s leaning toward studying communications at Syracuse, which has produced the likes of MSG’s Marv Albert, ESPN’s Mike Tirico and NBC’s Bob Costas.
“I’ve never really thought about it,” he said. “I like talking, so broadcasting or analyzing, maybe. I’ll probably stay around basketball, though.”
That being said, typical of Flynn, he ended his thoughts with his ultimate goal in life.
“I just want to be known as a great person,” he said. “Being a good person outside of basketball is more important than anything in the world to me.”
Contact Nate Beutel at 282-2311, Ext. 2262.