Grit, determination, sweat, all out effort and the willingness to step in front of a moving locomotor train if it helped his team…..those are just some of the attributes that would describe former UofL Basketball player BJ Flynn. After concluding my interview with the Snowman Marty Pulliam, I wanted to switch gears and enter a different decade in the Denny Crum era. Thanks to the efforts of the legendary Beau Zach Smith, I was able to get in touch with BJ, and the rest is below for you to read.
It’s my opinion that BJ Flynn was someone that many of us as UofL fans could relate to. He was a blue collar guy and sort of an underdog (he played his first season at UofL as a walk-on). His story is one that many local players who think they have the talent to play at the highest level but lack confidence should model their careers after.
Big thanks again to BJ for taking the time to do this interview. I learned a lot in a short period of time to include the fact that he grew up a UK fan (killed me) and that he’s now entered the coaching ranks. I hope you as the reader enjoy this issue of Return To The Flock: BJ Flynn (or as me and my buddies called him, the Human Floor Burn).
So I’ve always wondered, what exactly does “BJ” actually stand for?
BJ: William James Flynn
How did you originally end up at Duquesne University out of high school?
BJ: I was on a State championship basketball team for Jeffersonville High School in 1993. We had five division one players on the same team in high school and it was hard for us to get recruited by the big major college basketball programs, so many of us went lower division one. I only had scholarship offers from The University of Washington & Duquesne coming out of high school.
(editor’s note: what a shame, can you imagine how good BJ would’ve been for so many other D1 programs? And he’s spot on, that Jeff team was loaded. I went back and watched their State Final win over Ben Davis and it was a lot of fun)
And how did you ultimately end up at UofL?
BJ: After one season at Duquesne as a freshman I was the team’s sixth-man playing in the Atlantic 10 Conference. When I arrived back home for the summer after the ‘94 season at DU, I decided I wanted to play near home. So I was about to attend Bellarmine University, when I heard from Coach Crum I had an open invitation to walk on for the ‘95 season. I felt through hard work & improvement I could definitely play at UofL & earn playing time my first year. And I did play in every game as a sophomore & was awarded a scholarship my Junior & Senior seasons.
The most exhilarating UofL game I’ve ever watched while in attendance was the 1995 Dream Game win over Kentucky. In fact, I remember almost blacking out twice....the Alvin Sims dunk over Jeff Sheppard and the play where you split the full court press, got fouled by Tony Delk and finished with an “And One” at the 4:10 mark. Any memories from that game?
BJ: Yes, probably one of my top three most memorable games in my career. We came into that game unranked & UK was ranked 5th & we pulled off a major upset. It was big for me since it was my first UofL game playing against UK & I grew up a major UK fan since my father played there from 1971-75 as the starting point guard. I wanted to win that game more than anything & I had a good game that day as did my teammates.
(BJ’s play is at the 1:19:45 mark)
So as you just mentioned your father, Mike, was a star player at the University of Kentucky. Was it difficult for him to root for UofL when you were there?
No, not really, he told me while you’re at UofL I’ll be your number one fan and UK will be second.
I’ll probably ask every player who suited up under Denny Crum this question but how would you describe him as a person and as a coach?
As person I would say kind, understanding, social, helpful. As a coach I would say laid back, smart, organized, successful, and would go out of his way to help a player in need.
No idea if you’re aware of it, but a lot of UofL fans claim you might have had the greatest hair (post first season) in UofL Basketball history. Your thoughts?
BJ: LOL, yeah I had changed my hair style my senior year in ‘97 to more of a California surfer look you could say, with long blonde highlights. I was growing up and experimenting some - being a big kid. I had gained 10lbs. of muscle going into my senior season so I wanted a new look with it.
If UofL actually kept a record on offensive charges drawn do you think you’d be in mentioned?
BJ: I’m definitely number one with that at UofL & probably number one in the history of the NCAA of taking charges. I averaged around three charges per game my senior year. The UofL fans gave me a nickname the Flynn Flop!
(Editor’s note: I don’t recall that particular nickname, but BJ’s flops were glorious)
Best player you ever played against was?
BJ: Tim Duncan (‘96 sweet sixteen) & Vince Carter (‘97 elite eight game)
(Editor’s note: I didn’t have the heart to tell BJ how bad Beau Zach dominated him in that game)
Best player you played with at UofL and why?
BJ: Dejuan Wheat. He was smooth & calm with so much talent. Was easy to get along with on & off the court, just a great teammate overall. He helped us win many big games in our career together.
What are your thoughts on Chris Mack?
BJ: Really good hire in my opinion. Great motivator, recruiter, & relates to the players very well with his attitude & drive to succeed. Plus, he invited the Coach Crum era players back into the program to be part of it once again, after a long 18 year stretch of being removed from it while Pitino was coaching. So I thank him for that & have much respect for coach Mack.
What are you up to these days from a professional standpoint?
BJ: I’ve been in the medical healthcare sales space for past 15 years working as my own medical distributor company here in Louisville. It’s been really good to my family & me.
Do you have a family?
BJ: Yes, married to Jessica Flynn for 15 years & we have two kids: Beckett Flynn age 11 & Avery Flynn age 13. We’ve been living in Prospect, KY for the past 4 years. Both of my kids play basketball and I coach both of their teams.
How the hell are you passing time with COVID-19 pandemic in full swing?
BJ: Working from home, spending time with my kids outdoors a lot, getting more valuable time with my wife, & watching old UofL basketball games.
Have you watched The Tiger King or Ozark 3 on Netflix?
BJ: Yes, my wife & I love both those shows & watch Ozark often.
(Editor’s note: I missed an opportunity here to ask BJ if he thought Carole Baskine was guilty or not)
How do you hope UofL fans remember you?
BJ: Hard working, a winner, and the biggest competitor you will ever find.
(Editor’s note: Mission accomplished, BJ)