Australian visitors encourage Columbia College basketball player

Saturday, January 28, 2012 | 8:51 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — It takes approximately 24 hours, with layovers in Los Angeles and Memphis, in order to fly from Sale, Australia, to Columbia. For Peter and Heather Woodcock, it was worth the hassle. 

Arriving on Christmas Eve, the Woodcocks have been able to spend more than a month with their son, Matt Woodcock, who is also a senior guard for the Columbia College Cougars.

With his family in the stands Saturday on their final day in Columbia before heading back home, Woodcock had seven points and three assists, helping the Cougars run past the Hannibal-LaGrange Trojans 81-59. 

"It was really special," Woodcock said of having his family with him for the past month. "We had a stretch of, I think, seven home games in a row, so it worked out perfect." 

Also in attendance on Saturday were two of Woodcocks best friends from back home, Julia Allan and Marc Goodwin. The two were vacationing in Central America recently and decided to surprise their friend on Tuesday before heading home.

"I didn't know what to say," Woodcock said. "I was sitting on the couch in the hotel room, and they just walked in."  

Growing up in Sale, Woodcock dreamed of playing collegiate basketball in America. Those dreams were realized when Southeast Community College located in Beatrice, Neb., offered him a scholarship before his freshman year.

"We worked through a guy not far away from us, and he put Matt on his website," Peter Woodcock, his father, said. "We got in contact with the coach in Nebraska, and they offered Matt a scholarship there."

After playing for two years at Southeast Community College, Matt Woodcock transferred to Columbia College to finish out his collegiate career. 

On this particular day, Woodcock sparked a 12-2 Cougar run midway through the first half after hitting a 3-point shot from well beyond the top of the three point arc. 

Woodcock, a biology major, will graduate in May, but is not entirely sure where life after college will lead him. However, he would like to stay involved in basketball in any way he can.

"If I could do that somehow, whether it's playing or coaching or whatever, that would be really special," Woodcock said. "If not, then I guess I have to get a real job."

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