By DAVID GREEN
It probably seemed like a good risk to officials at Ohio State University. After all, what are the odds that someone is going to come out of the audience at the Value City Arena and throw a basketball through the hoop from mid-court?
Don’t talk to Fayette’s Austin Hylander about odds. Just look for the smile on his face and the dollar signs in his eyes.
Hylander made the shot, and as a reward, his tuition at OSU is free next year.
The freshman walked into the arena lobby Thursday with some friends to watch OSU’s womens team play Minnesota, coached by Fayette native Pam Borton.
When asked if they wanted to participate in the half-time shooting contest, his friends turned down the offer for fear of embarrassing themselves in front of the crowd.
Hylander volunteered. He was one of Fayette’s top players last season and he figured he had a shot.
Here’s how the game works. The shooter has 30 seconds to show what he or she can do from four positions on the floor.
First comes a lay-up. Make that and receive a $50 gift card to Big Lots, sponsor of the Big Shot contest. Then comes a free throw which increases the winning to $100. Next up is a three-pointer for a $500 prize. If all three of those shots go through and there’s still time remaining, you can try for the half-court bomb.
“I missed my first lay-up and thought to myself that I was just going to embarrass myself,” Hylander said, “and then I air-balled a three pointer!”
That was after his free throw went through and after missing his first three-point attempt.
He moved to half-court and missed his first two tries. That third attempt was something else.
“You could tell just by the arc of the ball that it was going in,” Curt Phillips of Fayette told Hylander’s mother later. Phillips was among the 3,300 people in the stands.
Hylander said he was told there were about three seconds showing on the clock, but he wasn’t paying attention. He was busy running a lap around the arena collecting high-fives. The announcer on the television broadcast said something like, “I’ll bet someone even more excited are his parents.”
Hylander hasn’t yet received details on the tuition payment, but he said a typical course-load costs nearly $9,000. That’s just a bonus—a very big bonus—to the thrill of participating in the event.
“I didn’t even expect to make the shot,” he said. “I just wanted to say I got to shoot at half-time of an Ohio State basketball game.”
He became the first person in the four-year history of the event to win.
Hylander can’t remember ever making one of those last-second desperation shots from half court when he played in high school, but does recall a similar event from elementary school.
“I made a buzzer beater once in fifth grade to win against Pettisville in double overtime. That I still remember, but nothing like this one!”
Now he has something to take the place of his fifth-grade feat.
“This was absolutely incredible,” he said.