A 12-second video of an Appalachian State University basketball player’s ill-fated free throw attempt – a shot WCU students dubbed the “worst free throw ever” and posted to YouTube – logged more than 18 million views online and aired on national TV.
Kyle Rush and Philip Jackson, both seniors majoring in communication with a concentration in broadcasting, were working as basketball commentators for student station TV 62 on Dec. 8 when the ASU Mountaineers played the Catamounts at WCU’s Ramsey Regional Activity Center.
ASU had a nine-point lead when junior Brian Okam hit a free throw and then attempted a second that failed to travel more than half the distance to the basket and landed in the arms of a teammate. “My goodness,” Rush said into his microphone. Jackson, who is from Durham, followed with, “I’m not sure what that was. Good Lord!”
Possession went to the Catamounts, who ultimately turned the tide and won the game 70-62, but the student commentators could not stop thinking about the missed free throw. Rush wanted to submit the footage to ESPN for the “Not Top 10” plays of the week, so he and TV 62 sports producer Matson Henderson, a senior from Asheville majoring in communication, edited the clip and posted it on YouTube with the title “WCU vs. App State – Worst Free Throw Ever.”
“I wanted to describe the free-throw the way the entire crew saw it,” said Rush, TV 62 station manager who hails from High Point. “Secondly, I wanted the title to attract attention.”
He expected the video to log more views than the full games TV 62 regularly posts on YouTube, but he was astounded when the ticker hit more than a million in the first day and just kept climbing. The clip gained attention from USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Mashable.com and other publications, as well as from media outlets in the United Kingdom. In addition, the footage was broadcast on ESPN during the “C’Mon Man!” segment of “Monday Night Countdown.”