Cook County Department of Corrections Officer Dejeanette Flournoy took her passion for basketball and turned it into something sensational for the next generation of female basketball stars. The “Best of the Best Sensational 60 Showcase” is an exclusive, invite only, one-day showcase that features 60 of the top girls’ high school basketball players from around the United States. The annual event focuses on creating a great experience for the players, the hundreds of collegiate coaches, fans and spectators.
In 2010, Dejeanette started a not-for-profit organization called “Future Hoopers of America” that was primarily dedicated to running basketball camps for girls. The goal of these initial camps was to prepare participants for the field of competition, both on and off the court. Through her organization, Dejeanette decided to focus more on quality instead of quantity and created an annual basketball showcase.
In 2015, the showcase was held at the Lincoln Center in Highland, Indiana and last year it was held at the Southland Center in Lynwood, Illinois.
“I do it because someone did it for me,” said Dejeanette of her former coaches. “They helped me get these wonderful opportunities and I just want to give back. I wanted to run a genuine event that was just all about the kids and their talent.”
“The Teamsters Local 700 Charitable Committee was proud to support Dejeanette’s organization,” said Mike Melone, Teamsters Local 700 Secretary-Treasurer. “We applaud her dedication to giving the young female athletes a positive experience that nurtures their talent and helps them grow.”
When she is looking to recruit players, Dejeanette or an associate of hers will go to girls’ high school games to look for talent. Otherwise, coaches or parents will reach out to her and let her know there is a player she has to see. Selected players for the showcase are sent invitations to participate along with their parents. Hundreds of college coaches are also invited. At the showcase, the girls meet each other, are split into six teams and play two games.
“I like to introduce the girls to each other before the games start and let them have their special moment,” said Dejeanette. “I like them to get to know each other and talk about who inspired them.”
Dejeanette’s love for basketball began when she started playing the game at age seven. She went on to be a star player at George Washington High School and ended her high school career as a State Champion and the Most Valuable Player of the Chicago Girls’ Basketball City Championship game in 2000.
She continued her success at the collegiate level. During her time at Casper College, Dejeanette garnered WBCA, Kodak, and Junior College All-American honors, was one of the top five junior college players in the nation and ranked #1 in the nation in rebounding and #5 in scoring. This led to her being recruited by many NCAA Division I programs throughout the nation, in which she ultimately chose to finish her collegiate career at the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC). During her time at UIC, Dejeanette was recognized as one of the top players in the Horizon League and received several athletic and academic accomplishments, awards and records. After graduating with her Bachelors of Communications from UIC, she took her talents to the professional level in Europe.
Dejeanette had a standout three-year professional career starting in Spain, averaging 17 points and 10 rebounds her first year. During her second year playing in Switzerland, she averaged 28 points and 15 rebounds. She moved on to Portugal, where she averaged 23 points and 15 rebounds per game and became one of the top players in the league.
Dejeanette ended her professional playing career in 2012. “It was wonderful in terms of experience and money,” she said, “but the instability and knowing it can all end at any minute changed my mind.” The same year, she was inducted into the Chicago Basketball Hall of Fame.
On her website, Dejeanette posted a thank you message to her supporters regarding the showcase: “The sincerest of thanks would like to go out to AAU, travel team, and high school coaches, parents, collegiate coaches, spectators, fans, media, sponsors, and all of those who support the 2016 Best of the Best “Sensational 60” Showcase and all future “Best of the Best” events. Your love and support is genuinely appreciated.”