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April 2006

Jamie Ballentine speaks out
Making the shot

How did you decide to add the halfcourt shot to your repertoire?

WLTX did a little story about me for the Capital One All American Mascot Team, and they got Coach Odom and Bill Old to help out with the story.  When I got to the court, Bill Old was doing this half court shot backwards.  He normally hits them, but didn't make any that particular time. 

I decided to try it as well and it was awful. But WLTX got a shot of me shooting, the ball soaring through the air, and finally a shot of the basket where coach Odom shot the ball and made it.  They pieced it together and put it on air that night.  They also did an edit of me dunking the ball. 

I thought if I could do either one for real, it would be really neat. 

When did you try it for the first time?

I remember it well. On December 31, 2004, I did the basketball game against Wofford and half time rolled around.  I noticed the crowd didn't make a big exit to the concession stand or bathrooms.  I also noticed nothing was going on for halftime entertainment.  We were already beating Wofford up pretty good, so I started thinking about what I could do to give the people something to watch.

I saw a rack of basketballs, so I ran over and grabbed one. I never thought I'd make the shot but figured it would give the fans something to watch.  It was about the seventh or eighth try that I actually hit one.  Nothing but net!  Everyone went absolutely nuts.  The bad thing was not one person got it on camera. That killed me.

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Did you ever attempt the shot at a game and not make it?

Yes. Later in the year I went back out during two timeouts to try and get it on tape and never hit one.  It was awful.   

But you kept trying?

Well, the 2005 NIT rolled around and again nothing was going on at halftime because promotions aren't allowed during halftime of the NIT.  I thought this might be a good time to try and get it on tape, and I did.  I made the shot in the second game of the NIT at the Colonial Center. The place went nuts.

At the third NIT game, again at the Colonial Center, the fans wanted me to do it again. I didn't want to.  I had it on tape, I was happy enough. 

But the cheerleaders begged me to do it after they did their routine at halftime, and I couldn't say no to them with their puppy faces, so back out I went. And I hit it again. 

The next game was at Madison Square Garden, and I just had to try it there.  First try —I made it in the Garden.  That was probably the most incredible thing in my career as Cocky.  So last season ended with me making four shots. 

And this year?

This year I did one for a timeout and made it on my second try. I hit another one against Western Kentucky in the first game of the NIT and then hit my final one in my last game ever in the NIT Championship. 

I've finished my career making seven of them. Granted I've missed it a lot, but making seven is something to be proud of. 

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