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Thursday, September 8, 2011
Green Bay guard pranked with scholarship

By Eamonn Brennan

Longtime readers might remember the name Eric Valentin. In January, the 5-foot-4 Green Bay walk-on set a new world record for the number of half-court shots -- eight, believe it or not -- made in a minute.

That was Valentin's first and really only video exposure in the college hoops webosphere. That is, until today.

As Yahoo!'s Jeff Eisenberg reported last night, Valentin was the recipient of two things at Green Bay practice yesterday, both of which you can see in video form in the previous link. The first was a prank: Green Bay coach Brian Wardle chastised Valentin after the team's first conditioning session, telling the guard he spent too much offseason time at his job and too little time getting conditioned for the upcoming basketball season. Just as Valentin looked fully downtrodden, the coach revealed present No. 2: A full-ride scholarship to play basketball at Green Bay in 2011-12. As he told Jeff:
"Honestly, he got me pretty good," Valentin said by phone Wednesday. "I actually didn't know what was coming. Then he handed me a piece of paper, I saw 'grant in aid' at the top and I knew it was a scholarship. I saw a bunch of money fly back into my pocket, all the money I spent on tuition and books. That was a great feeling."

You have to love the image. If only every parent could get their kid to visualize college tuition as money flying back into their pockets.

Valentin's story could practically serve as a sequel to "Rudy." The diminutive guard didn't reach the five-foot mark until well into his high school career, making his dream of playing college basketball an unlikely one. But Valentin contacted the Green Bay program, met Wardle for an interview, and inspired the staff to take him on as a walk-on.

Now in his senior season, Valentin is no longer just a four-year player (and a world-record holder, which is pretty cool in its own right). He's also a scholarship member of his team. Financially, that's huge. But it's also a symbolic payoff of hard work. Very cool.