Almost overnight, the Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles went from a team no one had ever heard of to a team sports fans all over the country wanted to root for. Along with the school’s instant popularity, many of the team’s star players have hitched a ride on their newfound stardom.
Point guard and many FGCU girls’ “man crush Monday,” Brett Comer, is one of the players who has seen the effects of being a leader on a Cinderella team. Comer, a 6-foot-3 junior from Winter Park, helped lead the Eagles in their historic Sweet Sixteen run last season, averaging eight points per game and assisting 66 of the team’s 148 dunks.
Most recognized for his role with Chase Fieler in the Eagles’ monstrous alley-oop that rocked Philadelphia during the Georgetown game, Comer is now a nationally recognized player and often gets recognized in public. Despite the sudden stardom, Comer says he doesn’t pay much attention to the drastic increase of camera crews and fans surrounding him.
“I kinda just do the same things I’ve been doing since I first got here: just being me, hanging out with these guys and having a good time doing that,” said Comer. “I kinda just lay low and do my own thing.”
Comer says he gets recognized in public but it’s what the team initially strived for. “Actually, it’s kind of wild when we go out to places how many people come up to us and just want to talk to us,” Comer said. “It’s cool, but it’s different, that’s something we wanted. That’s why myself, Bernard (Thompson) and Eric (McKnight) decided to come here, to change this into a respectable basketball program, and I think we’re on the verge of doing that.”
Even while at the ESPYs in Los Angeles this summer, Comer and the rest of the team were recognized by some of their favorite professional athletes. “Being a part of those superstar athletes and seeing the way they interact with each other and how they interacted with us was really cool. They knew who we were and they said how fun it was to watch us,” Comer said. “We got to talk to guys like Ray Lewis, Adrian Peterson and DeSean Jackson. We talked to a lot of guys, so it was really fun. The whole experience I’ll never forget.” Back in March, the Eagles were known as a one of the most fun teams in America. Not only because of their high flying dunks, but because they were having fun themselves. This season, despite the fame, hype and attention, nothing has changed for the Eagles.
“We want to stay the same, you know?” Comer said. “We’re not putting a show on for anybody, it’s just the way that we are. We like to go out and have a good time. Everywhere we go we have a good time together. So I guess that’s the way they captured it and thought maybe it’s just for the TV, but it’s just the way we are. It’s a little different with cameras everywhere, but we try to stay the same.”
The Winter Park native says that the added attention and sudden fame don’t add any more pressure on him and the team than before. “I don’t view it as pressure,” Comer said. “We just go out there and play, we’re not worried about what everybody else thinks about us and all that stuff. We just worry about what we got in our locker room and keep going from there.”
Comer believes that he’s grown both as a player on the court and as a person since his time with The Eagles.
“There’s less of the dumb mistakes,” Comer said “There’s still some of them, obviously, but I’m just smarter with everything. I’m less emotional on the court. I kind of grew up as a person too. I feel like I just grew, not showing too much emotion and the negative stuff. I’ve thrown away a lot of the negative stuff and just staying neutral and positive.”
For Comer, the biggest change since March hasn’t been the sudden appearance of camera crew trucks, extensive requests for autographs and stardom, but the coaching change to former Kansas assistant coach, Joe Dooley. “It’s a whole new type of offense, different principles and what he (Dooley) wants from us.”
“Chase Fieler has gotten a little weirder too,” Comer playfully joked with his teammate. That’s another huge change is Chase. He really was a cool guy, then he really became lame. I don’t like him too much anymore.”