Last Saturday, O.C. Lewis Gymnasium erupted in excitement when incoming freshman Rylan Metz sunk a half-court shot. However, it wasn’t just the satisfaction of sinking the shot that made the crowd go wild—the unlikely basket also came with a full year of free tuition.
The video of the moment captured lots of cheer, including the reaction of Trent Palmer, director of young alumni engagement.
“It was pandemonium for sure,” Palmer said. “I didn’t even realize until I watched the video that I had run around the gym like a crazy person, but everyone there was just in the moment realizing how amazing it was.”
He said that Metz was given a practice shot, but missed it wide left. Metz didn’t waste any time shooting the next one, though, and it went right in.
Since the video was released, it has received an abundance of national attention from SportsCenter, Bleacher Report, House of Highlights, Yahoo Sports and others.
“The free publicity is huge,” Palmer said. “Of course, we knew it was awesome, but now hundreds of thousands of people have seen it and they’re tagging AU in it.”
In regards to university alumni, Palmer said there has been a lot of reaction from them.
“The exposure is awesome for the university and for prospective students,” he said. “In my world of alumni, we have seen a lot of people commenting on how cool it is to see their alma mater getting so much attention. I think it was a huge win for the university.”
Metz was chosen from a random raffle drawing of incoming students drawn by President Pistole.
“We wanted to offer this opportunity to an incoming student to excite them about their freshman year,” said Pistole. “We hope that this will allow this student to immerse themselves in the unique culture and community that AU has to offer. Our students being able to see their university on these national social media accounts has made us all a part of this viral experience.”
The idea for the contest came from the admissions team, which includes Vice President of Enrollment Heather Kim.
“The admissions team was looking for an idea that would jumpstart the applicant pool, bring admitted students back to campus, generated excitement for students who are on campus and create an overall entertaining event,” Kim said. “One of the team members suggested the half-court shot, and we all agreed it was a great idea.”
The idea and process was pulled together rather quickly by the admissions and marketing team.
“In the future, we will have much more time to promote this event to incoming students,” Kim said.
She also said that nearly 2,000 admitted students were invited to attend the event. The student had to be comitted to attend AU in the fall of 2020 and had to have paid their enrollment deposit in order to have their name in the raffle.
Caitlynn Elkins, digital storyteller for the Office of Marketing and Communcation, said that the half-court shot resembles exactly what AU strives to represent.
“It is authentic to AU; it is real life transformed,” Elkins said. “Rylan draining the shot created a long term ripple effect for his life.”
With the video going viral, Elkins said that it brought a lot of collaboration as well as success in marking and admissions.
“It involved so many people and raised the profile of AU in a positive way locally, regionally and nationally,” she said. “The admissions offfice has received a higher number of applications this week, and our social media presence dominated. In total, the half court shot has been viewed over 1.3 million times and reshared around 3,000 times.”