Catching up with college basketball player Doug Edert
NEW JERSEY - Even the most die hard sports fan might have a tough time remembering who won men's NCAA basketball championship this year. (It was Kansas).
But it's hard to forget the magical run of the Saint Peter's Peacocks from Jersey City. Including sharpshooter Doug Edert, whose play off the bench and that famous mustache made him an instant star nationwide.
"I'm never satisfied, I always want to win, I always want to get better, always trying to get to the next level," he told me inside the gymnasium of his high school alma mater, Bergen Catholic, in Bergen County, New Jersey.
"What we did, it was it was history and it didn't really feel like it during it, honestly. But after we realized how crazy what we did really was," he said reflecting on the "Cinderella Story" some have described as the one of the greatest in NCAA history.
"I get the chills from watching it, I want to go back in time and go do it again, because it was that much fun," he said. "St. Peter's is such a small school and nobody really knew about it. and then after everyone knows St. Peter's now."
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He became one of the most recognizable athletes in the country in a span of just a few days. In the 4 months since, there have been sponsorships, a trip to the ESPY's, and meetings with elected officials like Governor Phil Murphy. There is also now a legitimate cult following for his mustache.
"I didn't know a mustache can like blow up like that, or the internet, like with all the memes and stuff. I love that I find it hilarious."
You can truly understand what it's all meant as Doug walks around the basketball court of Bergen Catholic. I met him here recently when he stopped by to talk with summer campers. Before we could start our interview, he was surrounded by kids and even some parents who wanted to take pictures, selfies and sign things, like the sneakers they wore to camp that day!
It lasted more than 30 minutes.
He's become used to the notoriety, but perhaps more important is the newfound words of wisdom he's able to pass along to the young campers.
"Everything comes from preparation and hard work. So i wake up at 730 in the morning, get in the gym, and I'm shooting," he told a group of nearly 50 kids seated on center court.
He also told them about how no one expected the team to have any chance in the tournament after they drew top-seeded Kentucky in the first round.
"All of us were hyped (and) clapping. We're going crazy. We're ready to go. And our coach told us right away like 'we're not going there to have just a good experience and enjoy the moment' - like we're going there to win, we're going to make a run. That week, practice was one of the most intense weeks of practice I've ever been a part of my life. Because we instilled our minds like 'we're going to win this basketball game'."
Edert came off the bench, and dropped 20 points, helping the #15 ranked St Peter's beat a titan of college hoops
Doug's success, seemingly from nowhere, not entirely surprising to his former coach at Bergen Catholic, Billy Armstrong
"He didn't have a ton of scholarship offers. It wasn't all the glamour. He just, you know, just bought into the principles that we talked about and of hard work and commitment and competitiveness and toughness."
Back in the tournament, Murray State and powerhouse Purdue fell next to the mighty Peacocks and some opportunities opened up for Doug and his teammates. A change in NCAA rules means college athletes can now make money off their names and likeness.
For Doug, it was an ad with Buffalo Wild Wings, a t-shirt line and a recent deal with Campus.Ink -- a company that teaches college students design.
"I feel like a lot more college athletes should be getting paid for their talents," he said. "I'm just cherishing every moment that I have with it and hope it keeps going."
The Peacocks run ended in the elite 8 to UNC.
Shortly after, head coach Shaheen Holloway announced he was taking a new job at his own alma mater, Seton Hall University. Doug and a few of his teammates, heading into their final years, who'd been recruited initially by Holloway, decided to enter the transfer portal and leave St. Peter's.
"We all stay in contact still, like there's no, there's no bad ball between anybody. I think it's awesome that we're all chasing our own goals and different spots after doing what we just did."
Doug is now at Bryant University in Rhode Island. A team expected to challenge for a spot in next year's tournament.
A new opportunity to write a new story.
"The goals are… get to the professional level personally, and also to get back to touring and make another run. "You guys should look forward to me being there again," he said.