VALDOSTA, GA. – Clay Guillozet, a 2016 Greenville graduate will be taking his basketball skills to Georgia to play for the Valdosta State University (VSU) Blazers men’s basketball team under veteran Coach Mike Helfer, an Ohio native.
Guillozet spent his freshman season playing for the West Liberty University (WLU) Hilltoppers from the state of West Virginia.
A coaching change at WLU afforded Guillozet the opportunity explore options for his sophomore 2017-18 basketball season, accepting an offer from VSU to continue his studies while taking his game to the next level.
“Not only is Clay a good player, but off the court he’s a great person,” VSU Coach Mike Helfer said. “If you look across sports in general, there seems to be a high expectation with coaches. There is a high expectation for good kids as well as good players and he has it going in that direction.”
“I’m extremely excited,” Guillozet said of his choice to attend VSU. “I came down on my visit and Coach Helfer just blew me away. Seeing the facilities and all the resources they have down here, the campus is beautiful, the strength and conditioning coach is really good, just getting me ready for the season.”
“I have built a really great relationship with Coach Helfer since my first time meeting him,” added Guillozet. “I think it is a perfect fit.”
“I don’t think anyone wants to go through it when a coach leaves or whatever, so I reached out to Clay and had him come on a visit,” Helfer said. “I think also for Clay, he was kind of surprised coming to Georgia, how nice it is. Our campus is beautiful. We have palm trees on our campus.”
Coach Helfer, a Newark Central Catholic High School Hall of Fame athlete earned the honor as a standout football and basketball player for the Newark, Ohio school, playing receiver on two state championship football teams.”
“I played football in high school on two state championship teams,” noted Helfer, “but I chose to go on and play basketball at Capitol University in Bexley, (OH).”
Helfer earned three letters as well as serving as Captain his senior year on the Capital University Crusaders basketball team.
With coaching ties to Ohio, VSU attracts its share of Ohio athletes to the highly successful basketball program under Helfer.
“I have quite a few kids from Ohio,” Helfer said. “It’s just been nice to get kids from Ohio. I think it’s the connection me being from Ohio.”
Two Ohio players making an impact at VSU are brothers Blake and Beau Justice from Peebles, Ohio.
Blake, a Valdosta State University graduate joined a short list of 1,000 point scorers in the VSU history books just two years ago and officially joined Coach Helfer as the Blazers new assistant coach August 7, 2017.
“A good piece of the puzzle,” Helfer said. “I hired Blake Justice who is from Peebles. He is my top assistant now.”
Beau Justice, like Guillozet played his freshman year of college ball at WLU before transferring to VSU after one season.
“The Justices – Blake might have scored about 2,300 points in high school and then Beau, his little brother scored 2,500 or something and broke his record,” noted Helfer. “Beau went to West Liberty like Clay did for one year and then came down here. Clay and Beau did not play together but they are very good friends now and they are going to live together.”
“My senior year in high school Beau was at West Liberty and he transferred down here after his freshman year as well,” said Guillozet. “He’s one year ahead of me.”
“He’s an Ohio guy, coach is an Ohio guy, I’m an Ohio guy,” Guillozet continued. “We always joke around and say how we Ohio guys are going to stick together down here.”
Soon after signing with VSU, Guillozet met up with Coach Helfer in his Ohio hometown.
“I do a camp back in Newark for kids in my hometown,” shared Helfer. “I’ve been doing it for 24 years now. After Clay signed with us, he was like, ‘hey coach, I would like to come over and work your camp in Newark,’ so he came over and he stayed with his brother in New Albany and drove to Newark every day. He came over and helped me with the kids at Newark at the basketball camp and I thought that was really cool.”
“Coach runs a really nice camp there,” said Guillozet. “It was really good for me. I got to know him on my visits but that just helped to build a closer relationship working at his camp.”
“Newark kids who don’t even know Clay and then they find out he’s coming to play for me, they fell in love with the kid,” Helfer stated. “All week they’re jumping all over him. This was awesome – it was great.”
Coach Helfer sees Guillozet fitting in well in his new southern surroundings, not only on the court but in the community he will represent.
“One thing that is neat about our town, it’s a great sports town,” said Helfer. “It’s not as big as Columbus Ohio. It has about 100,000 people within our county. I think the great thing about Clay is that he’s going to be good on the floor, but when you see him in the community, or you see him on campus, or you see him in the rec center, I think not only students, but our boosters and our fans in the town are going to be attracted to him because he is a great player, a great kid and will be drawn to that and that is one of the things I like about him, and that is not to undersell his ability as a basketball player.”
“Really it was everything that went into it,” Guillozet summed up his reason for Valdosta State. “There wasn’t just one big thing, but meeting Coach and seeing the program – they went 26-6 last year and just feeling like this is a spot that is going to help me personally as well work on my game and make me a better player. Just making me a better player over all.”
“I watched them and you could tell,” Guillozet said of his visit to VSU. “The student involvement, they have student sections on each side of the hoop and they also have a lot of really good boosters that support the program. It’s a big town but there is definitely the support behind it.”
“Over your course of your career you always have kids that you like to sign and you have kids that you would love to sign,” concluded Helfer. “Clay is falling into the category that I would have loved to have signed him – and once we did, I felt like it was a tremendous sign and it will be a tremendous asset for our program.”
PHOTO CAPTION: 2016 Greenville High School Graduate Clay Guillozet is joined by Valdosta State University head men’s basketball Coach Mike Helfer on the Blazers’ home court. (Valdosta State Athletics photo)