Felipe's father, who played amateur baseball in the Dominican Republic, and his family immigrated to the U.S. when he was 14. López played high school basketball at famed Rice High School in New York City, where he would follow New York high school players Kareem Abdul Jabbar (Lew Alcindor) and Kenny Anderson in becoming one of the most highly touted recruits in U.S. high school history. The 6'5" guard made many All-American lists in 1994, earning Player of the Year honors from Gatorade, USA Today, Parade, and many others.
Though he never quite lived up to the massive hype and through-the-roof expectations heaped upon him by the fans and media, López still finished his freshman season for the newly named St. John's Red Storm by averaging 17.8 points per game, earning a spot on the All-Big East Rookie Team and All-Big East Third Team in the process. And, though his numbers dipped slightly the next two years, bottoming out at 15.9 ppg as a junior, he finished strong as a senior, averaging 17.6 ppg and garnering All-Big East First Team honors. He finished his career with 1,927 points, placing him fourth all-time in St. John's history behind former Johnnies' greats Chris Mullin, Malik Sealy, and D'Angelo Harrison and sixth in Big East history with 1,222 conference points, while also ranking seventh all time in steals, 14th in assists, and 20th in rebounds. He also holds the St. John's record for most three-pointers made in a single season (60) and in a career (148).