ESPN is a vast network, but even they can’t cover every inch of the college basketball landscape. Too often, some truly outstanding players will fall below the national radar. One thing is certain though: these players are making a big impact at the Division I level, so don’t be surprised when they show up again to spoil your bracket. Periodically throughout the rest of the season we here at Otto’s Grove aim to make you the know-it-all among your group of basketball friends by introducing you to some players from around the nation that aren’t exactly on the national stage, but could make a difference in your March Madness pool.
Brett Comer & Bernard Thompson
Florida Gulf Coast University
Ht: 6-foot-3 & 6-foot-3
Wt: 192 & 175
Positions: Point Guard and Shooting Guard
Today we’re looking at two players that go together like yin and yang, the dynamic duo, and Bert and Ernie. Brett Comer and Bernard Thompson joined forces when they both signed to play at FGCU under Andy Enfield back in 2011, and since then the two have built an unbreakable bond both on and off the court. The pair has started almost every game together since they were freshmen and made headlines when they led the Eagles to the Sweet Sixteen and ushering in the Dunk City Era for the school.
During his prep career Comer shared the spotlight with current NBA player Austin Rivers at Winter Park High School, where the pair went 57-12 in two seasons and were ranked in the top five in the state of Florida both years. Rivers went to Duke and Comer verballed to Florida Atlantic University. That’s when Enfield took over at FGCU and immediately targeted Brett as one of his top players to get for the young program. Comer flipped his commitment soon after, and the rest is history.
Like Brett, Bernard also shared the court with some very highly touted players in high school, including former Louisville guard Kevin Ware. Thompson was a two sport star in high school and also had interest from colleges for baseball, but he stuck with basketball and is now one of the top players in FGCU history.
As freshmen the pair combined to average over 20 points-per-game while leading the Eagles to the conference tournament finals in the school’s first year of eligibility for postseason play. Both players excelled in individual aspects with Comer leading the conference in assists, and Bernard finished third in the conference in steals. The pair landed on the Atlantic Sun All-Freshman team for their efforts.
With a year under their belt, the B&B show began to shine and eventually helped execute one of the most memorable runs in NCAA tournament history. FGCU had an 11 game improvement from the pair’s freshman to sophomore year and made the Big Dance for the first time in school history, after going into Mercer and beating them on their own home court in the conference championship game. For the second year in a row, Brett led the conference in assists while improving on the defensive side of the ball, leading to him placing third on the conference steals list. Bernard led the conference and was second in the nation in steals, leading to him winning the Atlantic Sun Defensive Player of the Year award.
The first sign that the Eagles had a chance to be special is when they hosted and beat the eventual 2-seed Miami Hurricanes in the biggest game in the history of Alico Arena. As the season progressed the wins began to pile up, with the team going 17-5 down the stretch of the season. In the first round of the NCAA tournament the Eagles not only upset the vaunted 2-seed Georgetown Hoyas, but they ran up and down the court, dunking and shocking everyone across the nation. They followed up one shocking performance up with another dunk heavy run and gun win versus the seventh seeded San Diego State Aztecs. At this point the Eagles were national rock stars, and Brett and Bernard were right in the middle of it. Brett notched a double-double in both games and Bernard averaged 23 points. The fun came to an end with a loss to state and national power Florida, but the impact was made, and now the world knew who the Eagles were.
For the first time in the school’s history the men’s basketball team entered a season with very high expectations, and Comer and Thompson did not disappoint with both players being named First Team All-Conference. With Andy Enfield off for USC, the Eagles had a new coach in Joe Dooley, who asked his experienced backcourt to pick up the extra weight of the team’s losses to graduation. The duo responded by each posting career high averages in scoring. The team struggled early but hit their stride in conference play and ended up being the 1-seed and hosting the conference tournament. Unfortunately, they couldn’t return to the Dance, as Mercer was able to exact revenge on FGCU’s home court before going on to beat Duke in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Eagles went to the NIT and lost to Florida State in the first round after big man Nate Hicks tore his ACL in a very close game.
As seniors, Brett and Bernard are determined to return to the tournament and remind the nation of who they are. Both players were named to the All-Conference preseason squad, along with fellow senior Jamail Jones. After having the best start in school history the Eagles struggled with injuries and suspensions, and lost five of their final six in non-conference play. The Eagles picked it back up in conference and are currently tied for first with a 6-1 record in the Atlantic Sun.
Brett is once again leading the conference in assists, and is sixth in the nation. The pair of Comer and Thompson are the active leaders or second in many statistics as a backcourt including: games played (251), games started (244), second in points (3,012), assists (982), and minutes (7,321). Along with that, Bernard is 15th among active players for points scored and fourth in steals. He is FGCU’s career leader in steals, scoring, field goals made and attempted, free throws made and attempted, and minutes. He is also top five in a handful of other categories. Comer is the current active leader in assists in the nation, and is 78 assists from entering the top 25 of all time in college hoops history. He is the conference’s all time leader and continues to extend his lead as he wraps up an historic season.