Chase Fieler has definitely reached celebrity status.
While spending more than a month in the Mid-Ohio Valley, the former Parkersburg South standout has signed his share of shoes, basketballs and T-shirts for youth basketball players. But the one request which touched his heart was autographing a fellow parishoner's Bible.
"That's the one autograph I am most proud of," said Fieler. "I never thought that was possible."
Fieler and his teammates at Florida Gulf Coast University made history earlier this year after becoming the first No. 15 seed in NCAA Tournament history to advance to the Sweet 16.
FGCU became the darling of the tournament after defeating Georgetown (78-68) and San Diego State (81-71) at a regional site in Philadelphia, Pa. The next stop was Arlington, Texas and Cowboys Stadium where the Eagles lost to Florida, 62-50.
"Getting into the tournament was our original goal," Fieler said. "Once we did, we wanted to be the VCUs and Butlers, who have done it multiple times."
In just a few days, Fieler will return to Fort Myers, Fla., for his senior year at FGCU. The Eagles lost both their leading scorer in Sherwood Brown and head coach Andy Enfield, who took a similar position at Southern Cal, but they are determined to show the country what transpired this past March was no fluke.
"We were glad to be there, but we want to be the team that gets to the NCAA Tournament year after year and getting our name mentioned with the elite teams in the country," Fieler said.
In addition to returning four starters, FGCU will debut a new coach with a rich pedigree. Joe Dooley spent the last 10 seasons as an assistant at Kansas under head coach Bill Self.
"I've only talked to (Dooley) on the phone - he plans to keep the system pretty much the same and introduce some of things which made them successful at Kansas," Fieler said. "For most part, he wants to keep us up-tempo and stay with 'Dunk City.'"
Dunk City became the Eagles' trademark throughout their tournament run. With the help of point guard Brett Comer, Fieler brought down the house with his alley-oop dunks.
In fact, Bleacher Report has dubbed Comer and Fieler as the most exciting alley-oop combo in the nation for the 2013-14 season. The top 10 list also includes Ohio State's Aaron Craft and Sam Thompson at No. 3. Duos from Kentucky and Kansas round out the rankings.
"The whole Dunk City thing was humbling," Fieler said. "Just to think that no one even knew us and now we are the most exciting alley-oop combo is exciting. It's amazing how much our success translated into popularity for the program."
Fieler is the first to admit that Comer is the creative one on the team in terms of style points.
"(Comer) thinks a lot more things are possible than they really are," Fieler said. "He thinks we're LeBron (James) and tries to push us as much as we can."
During his stay this past month in Parkersburg, Fieler enjoyed the opportunity to see his younger brother, Jake, graduate from high school. Jake Fieler had some creative juices flowing as well as the leader of the Southside Psychos - otherwise known as South's student section during the Patriots' basketball games this past season.
"Jake got some of his inspiration when we played Duke," Fieler said. "The Southside Psychos made an impact on games that hasn't been done in a while."
Fieler's family, including his parents Karl and Jenny, and sister Ryan, were in attendance when FGCU pulled off back-to-back wins at the NCAA Tournament.
"At the end of the game when we were up by double digits, I just took it all in," Fieler said. "Seeing my family and having them be a part of it meant a lot."
Contact Kerry Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org