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By Brad Spencer
Kevin Schwartz didn't think he'd ever make a highlight reel on ESPN's Sportscenter, but on Saturday night, there was the 2010 OPRF High School graduate popping a 47-foot jump-shot, to the delight of a lively crowd in Butler University's Hinkle Field House.
Schwartz doesn't play hoops for Butler, but he's well-known to many of the athletes and coaches around campus. Schwartz is Butler's superfan, and on Saturday he was chosen to take part in ESPN's Game Day shootout, sponsored by State Farm Insurance before the Butler men's hoops team was to take on Gonzaga.
The contest consisted of a random fan being chosen to shoot as many shots from halfcourt as possible in a span of 18 seconds. If one shot is made, the winner would receive $18,000. No participant had made the shot in four years, going 0-for-32. In the last nine years, only two participants had made the shot. No one had ever won the contest on the first shot until Schwartz buried his first attempt with ease.
He had been at Hinkle Field House for 24 hours or so, in line waiting to get tickets to what ended up a thrilling game against Gonzaga. (Butler won on a buzzer-beater.) Of course, the superfan camped out the night before the game.
"I try to attend all the sports I can here at Butler," said a raspy-voiced Schwartz when reached via phone on Sunday. He's not kidding. Schwartz, who played baseball and football at OPRF and was the most vocal and most blue-and-burnt-orange painted fan in the Dawg Pound, is one of a few men on the practice squad for the Butler women's basketball team.
This was not his first halfcourt shot attempt.
"Sometimes when we're waiting for the women's team to come out of the locker, myself and some of the others on the practice squad will mess around trying to make that shot," he said. "So I have attempted it before."
But not with $18,000 on the line. He was guaranteed to receive $1,800 just for being chosen. But making that shot wasn't what Schwartz was focused on. In fact, the magnitude of it didn't register until after the game. "It didn't sink in right away," he said, no pun intended. "I was more concerned about rooting Butler to victory over Gonzaga."
The money couldn't come at a better time for the 21-year-old junior, who is majoring in Risk Management and Insurance. He's still paying off debt accumulated from his trip to Hawaii to support Butler at the Maui Invitational back in November. This spring, he's planning on being in New York to root on the Bulldogs in the Atlantic 10 Championship to be held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
While in the Big Apple, he also hopes to see his friend and former fellow Huskie Iman Shumpert, a second-year guard for the New York Knicks.
Perhaps Schwartz can give his friend some long-range shooting tips.