Former Parkersburg South coach Roy Edman recalled watching Florida Gulf Coast’s Chase Fieler come of age as a high school player. The dribbling, the passing, the vision … the feet?

“He always had these gigantic feet, and we wondered if he’d ever grow into them,” Edman said.

Cue the freshman growth spurt of 2007, when the 6-foot-2 point guard sprouted into a 6-8 forward.

“We wound up having to use him in the post a lot, but he still had the super ball-handling skills from when he was a guard,” Edman said. “Sometimes, if teams would pressure us, we’d just clear it out and let him bring it up against their big man.”

Fieler also retained his outside shooting touch, allowing Parkersburg South to float him to the perimeter. By his senior season, Fieler was scoring 25.3 points, snatching 12.7 rebounds and doling out 3.1 assists per game. He also showed the hops to average more than three blocks, earning West Virginia Class AAA all-state honors even though the Patriots’ season ended in the sectional semifinals.

“He certainly wasn’t a one-dimensional player,” said Edman, who, some three years later, remains puzzled as to why most Division I recruiters ignored Fieler.

Neither of the major programs in the area — WVU or Pitt — showed interest. Ohio University, where Fieler’s dad played football and his mom volleyball, also declined, as did Marshall. The lone scholarship offers came from James Madison and Eastern Kentucky, where head coach Jeff Neubauer was a former WVU assistant. Fieler’s next-best option? Division II West Liberty or Glenville State.

“Our staff just kept thinking these people were missing the boat,” said Edman.

Befuddled, Edman sent some of Fieler’s senior-year game film to FGCU, at that point a transitioning D-I program that was more anonymity than Dunk City. (Edman might not have known of FGCU if not for two other Parkersburg South alumni — Bryan Crislip and Ryan Hopkins — having transferred to the Fort Meyers, Fla., after beginning their college careers at Arkansas-Little Rock and Eastern Michigan.) The film made an impression, because within a few days, FGCU coach Dave Balza flew to West Virginia to watch Fieler first-hand on Senior Night.

In the kid’s final Parkersburg South home game, he put up 27 points, 14 rebounds, seven blocks and six assists in an 85-76 upset of No. 1-ranked George Washington. Balza offered a scholarship before leaving the gym.

Said Edman: “There’s probably a few people chomping at the bit now wishing they’d recruited him.”

RISE OF THE EAGLES
Balza, a big-time winner during Florida Gulf Coast’s D-II days, endured expected struggles as the Eagles moved to D-I and was fired after Fieler’s freshman season. Enter Andy Enfield, the second-year coach who suddenly has FGCU making Cinderella madness.

And Fieler, the all-state player virtually nobody wanted, has played a key role as 15th-seeded FGCU soars into the Sweet 16.

In Sunday’s 81-71 upset of San Diego State, he had 11 points and three boards in 33 minutes. That followed his 36-minute output in the monumental 71-58 upset of second-seeded Georgetown, a game in which he produced nine points, seven rebounds, three blocks and one rim-rattling alley-oop flush that symbolized FGCU’s aggressive style.

“That might have been the highest I ever jumped,” said Fieler.

Current Parkersburg South coach Mike Fallon, who took over the program the season after Feiler graduated, was among a local contingent who joined Fieler’s parents in Philadelphia for Sunday’s round-of-32 win.

“You had a little section right behind the bench rooting for San Diego State and the rest of the arena was cheering for FGCU,” Fallon said. “By the time Duke and Creighton tipped off in the late game, it was like the air was out of the building because everybody had use all their energy up on the first game.”

Fallon said the player has returned frequently the past three years, typically to a hometown hero’s welcome.

“He came in over Christmas and worked out with our high school team,” Fallon said. “We had four seniors who had played with him as freshmen, so they look up to him.

“He has been to our camps and referee’d AAU games in the summer. He’s around a lot, and the kids are all over him. He’s genuine, and you can tell he really likes working with kids.”

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Comments

  • Helen5844

    I live here in Ft. Myers. This city has been high as a kite for a long time now. No one thought FGCU had a chance but they sure showed everyone they did.
    I was sick when I heard he was from Parkersburg. I'm sure he is a late bloomer though. Thank goodness we were not the only school to pass on him.
    I guess everyone just found out Huggie Bear is not God. He is a great basketball coach though. We will be much better next season.

  • Allan

    Great story about Chase, but you know it happens all over the sports arena. You take a high school athlete with raw talent and try to visualize how he might be two or three years down the road and sometimes you guess right and you look like a great recruiter and sometimes they don't develop and you look like a chump. Chase made himself a better player, not coaching which gets me back to the new practice facility that many of our own players never use...there lies the problem. We need someone to step up from the team and make the rest of the team responsible and get their lazy rear ends in there all the time.

  • Larry

    Nice story, but it ends Friday, Gators will win.

  • cutty77

    Huggs likes a certain Type of Kid,and yes this Kid doesn't fit what he likes.He told me a while ago he wouldn't recruited any one of John B players that were here when he got here.So what does that tell you.

  • John weaver

    What Fallon said in the article is correct, I was at the games and if you were not there to root for your team you could not help yourself but to root for Florida gulf coast. They are a very entertaining team. It is like watching a bull fight.

  • Rick

    It's so comical to hear people bashing Huggs. Nobody said anything 3 yrs ago. Now he's made a name for himself and instead of just being happy for the Pburg kid, these "informed" fans think they know better. Thanks for the good laughs. Good luck Chase!

  • Scott

    Big Larry, where were you 3 years ago when he was coming out of high school?

  • chad

    Any of you idiots bashing Huggs ever think maybe this kid wouldn't have come to WVU? Maybe he hates WVU. Not every kid who grows up in WV loves WVU or wants to play there. I personally can't imagine that and I don't understand it but I there are a lot of people in WV who hate WVU for whatever reason.

    • Scott

      Good point. Furthermore quit discrediting coaches from WVU , OU, Marshall and give this kid credit for working his butt off and improving himself and his team.

  • Big Rick

    FGCU is by far the most exciting team to watch in this tournament. Thanks. -Big Rick

  • rekterx

    I do find it interesting that Jeff Neubauer offered him a scholarship. If I remember correctly, Neubauer was Beilein's chief recruiter at WVU.

    • Greg

      Surprised Bielien didn't offer him then.

      • chad

        no major program offered him.

  • Robert

    Well in hindsight it is easy to point fingers at the lack of recruiting him. We (WVU) are obviously not alone at missing out on this young man's talent. So all of you guys pointing at Huggins needs to broaden your finger pointing to Pitt, Marshall, Ohio, and whomever else felt that they had an opportunity with this guy and missed. And while you are at it, please tell us all who should be in the next year's recruiting class so that we may know in advance where your finger pointing will turn towards next year. But please do not evaluate talent in hindsight and justify criticism in our obvious poor season in that.

    I wish things would have worked out for him to be with us, but they simply did not. I am very glad he got the opportunity at FGCU and it looks like he is making the best of it. Now go out and stomp on the Gators young man!

    • Big Larry

      We are not being paid to do that. That's what Huggins is paid 3 million dollars a year to do...evaluate talent. And it starts in your home state.

      • Wemakerain

        Technically Huggins is not the chief talent evaluator, no head coaches are at any D-1 school. Not every school can sign a great class each year it is mathematically impossible. I must give you credit though, you are much more articulate than "Jim Bob" on the Marshall page (I hope to God that it was a joke). Go read it and feel better about yourselves

  • Big Larry

    This kid is better than any current WVU player which just goes to show that Huggins is a very poor judge of talent. Huggins prefers to recruit thugs and inner-city street players rather than kids who play with heart (like Chase Fieler) ...that's why they finished 13-19 and lost their last 7 games in a row.

    There are at least 3 or 4 West Virginia players that Huggins should be going after...kids who play with a lot of "heart"
    rather than being "street-wise". But if he can find an inner city street player, he will pick them every time. It is what it is...

    • DWM

      Hate to pile on Big Larry, but you're wrong on so many levels that it is hard to know where to start.

      Huggins has recruited extremely high character people since he has been the coach at WVU. There isn't a better representative of a university than Kevin Jones, Truck Bryant, or any of the guys they have on the team this year. The fact that they were terrible is not a reflection of their character, it has more to do with their talent and youth.

      Your racist rants would have found a broader base of agreement 50 years ago, society has grown and changed and you now find yourself in the vast, vast minority, thankfully.

    • Scott

      You sound rather racist

      • cutty77

        Just stating the facts young Man.You make out it whatever you want,its a Free Country.

      • Greg

        Boy, that's an understatement. What time is your Klan meeting tonight Big Larry? Wonder if his high school coach bothered to contact Huggs or send him video? Did he truly even have that much confidence he could thrive in the Big East?

        • Big Larry

          I find it amusing that all the Huggins relatives & paid trolls come out once again in his defense. If Huggins doesn't win a game next year this same bunch will reappear with the same ole rhetoric...

          Huggins is a great recruiter

          Huggins doesn't evaluate talent...the assistants do

          The kid didn't want to come to WVU

          Huggins only recruits well mannered young men.

          You're just a racist. (Which I have to admit is a new low even for the Huggins trolls).

          I have been promoting Elijah Macon for over a year now, and praised the play of Andrew Johnson of Beckley and the Grantham kid from Martinsburg. I criticized Huggins for not recruiting Perria Henry of South Charleston. And yes I believe all three of these three young men are black. In addition, all year I have praised the play of the two freshman Henderson & Harris. So please…let’s leave out the racist remarks. They don’t apply here.

          Well, the list of excuses for Huggins is almost endless.

          The bottom line here anyway you want to slice it, Huggins missed out on this kid…So who is to blame? Why…I think that would be Bob Huggins…

  • gv

    Thank goodness the kid didn't go to Morgantown, he is having the time of his life on a winning program!

  • WILLIAM

    Another Bob Huggins recruiting FAILURE

    • Wemakerain

      Dude if Ohio didn't offer the guy a scholarship Huggins would have been crucified for giving one up. Sometimes people are late bloomers which is why he ended up at a school that just now have a basketball

      • Robert

        I have to agree with Wemakerain 100%. We had a very poor season, and our struggles were quite apparent. But I'm not sure Nostradamus would have even felt good about recruiting Fieler. Let us be fair in our criticisms of last year's team, and say it is not justifiable to blame this on Huggins.

  • packy

    Great Attitude plus hardwork equal success. Go Eagles.