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Long, trying journey leads Philip Flory home

Published: Feb. 14, 2021 at 9:24 PM CST
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STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAW) -Wisconsin Rapids native Philip Flory is one of the best basketball players to come out of the Central Wisconsin area in recent memory.

However, his last few years have been anything but smooth. Flory spent his freshman year at Seton Hall, before transferring to another Division-I school, Albany, for his sophomore season.

A foot injury in his only season with the Great Danes was the end of Flory’s D-I career, and almost was the end of his competitive basketball career period.

“You know I’m a fighter, and I never quit in anything that I do,” Flory says. “But like, after Albany when I came back home here in Wisconsin, there was some thoughts going in my head that yeah I was going to be done.”

Flory had a total of four surgeries on his feet and ankles, and last year, he needed a mental recharge. He moved back to Wisconsin Rapids and didn’t play basketball.

“I knew I could get through it physically, doing therapy and doing all the training,” said Flory. “I love that stuff. It was more just the mindset, trying to get back confidence in myself.”

The thought of Flory playing for UW-Stevens Point was a longtime pipe dream for Pointers’ head coach Bob Semling.

“Well, it goes way back to when Philip was in eighth grade,” says Semling of when he first took note of Flory. “And as a head coach, when I watched him play, I thought, ‘We’re probably not going to be able to get him.’ But you never know.”

Indeed, you never know, because when Flory was ready to return to the hardwood this year, the school less than half an hour away was the perfect place.

“It feels great to be home,” says Flory. “You take a look around this gym, look at all those banners.

“It’s a winning tradition, and I want to be a part of that, and I want to put up that 30th banner.”

The Rapids native made his Pointer debut on February 3 at UW-Whitewater. It was his first college basketball game since January 19, 2019, and validation of two years of blood, sweat, and tears.

“It was just very emotional for me,” says Flory of his return. “But once I got out there, and the horn blew, I knew I was in the right spot, and I made the right choice to come here.”

Flory is off to a flying start, leading UWSP with over 25 points and 6 rebounds per game.

That might just be the warmup.

“Philip has the chance to be the best Division-I transfer we’ve ever had,” Semling said.

No one would blame Flory for feeling bitter about his misfortune grounding his D-I career before it ever really took off.

But instead, he’s at peace with the road less traveled taking him home.

“I started at Wisconsin Rapids, went to Oshkosh (North High School), went to New Jersey, New York,” Flory says as he reminisces. “Now I’m back in Wisconsin, I’m back playing for the Pointers.

“You know, I kind of did see myself playing for the Pointers one day, and it’s unbelievable that here I am playing, and I’m a Pointer. I’m proud of it.”

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