Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Former FCCJ Player Becomes a Mighty Duck

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Former FCCJ Player Becomes a Mighty Duck

Article excerpt

Byline: Gene Frenette, Times-Union sports writer

For Brian Helquist, his dream of playing in the NCAA Tournament, and possibly the Final Four, wasn't supposed to happen 3,000 miles from home.

Those March Madness aspirations appeared dead two years ago when, following a redshirt season, he left LSU after coach John Brady told him not to expect much playing time. So the former University Christian standout came back home to play for Florida Community College at Jacksonville, and now he turns up at, of all places. . . .

Oregon?

"There's different roads to get where you want to be," Helquist said. "You just got to follow and persevere."

It's an unlikely matchup -- a 6-foot-9, 275-pound forward from Jacksonville hooking up with a rising basketball program in the opposite corner of the country -- but this long shot has paid off on both ends.

Not only is Helquist a member of the Ducks' first outright Pac-10 championship team since 1939, he's expected to play a key role off the bench tonight for Oregon in an NCAA Midwest Regional game against Texas.

"We'll need a tough guy against Texas because that's the best offensive rebounding team we'll face," Oregon assistant coach Scott Duncan said. "This will be Wrestlemania, and Brian likes to bounce his body off people. I love the guy."

So apparently does a large segment of Oregon fans, which, in an online poll about who they regarded as the team's most valuable player, gave Helquist the third-most votes (2,436) behind starting guards Frederick Jones and Luke Ridnour. Some students were so impressed by his physical style of play that they formed a fan club, wearing T-shirts to games inscribed "Helquist's Angels."

Any of them sorority girls smitten with his rugged features? "No, I wish," Helquist replied. "Just a bunch of guys that really cheer for me and I appreciate that. …

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