Meet the Kansas freshman who made the halfcourt shot on ESPN’s College GameDay

University of Kansas student Ellie McCarville had a lucrative opportunity in front of her.

If the freshman sank a halfcourt shot within 20 seconds on ESPN’s College GameDay show, broadcasting from Allen Fieldhouse, she’d walk away with $19,000. A crowd of about 3,000, many of whom would later see KU beat Baylor, watched in anticipation.

With no hesitation, McCarville, who is studying aerospace engineering in Lawrence, calmly walked up and sank the shot on her first attempt.

Her high school and club basketball experience in Omaha, Nebraska paid off.

“It felt good,” McCarville told The Star. “In the air, it looked pretty good. You can feel it. At the end of practice, we would shoot half-courters on one of my club teams, like as a joke (or) just for fun.

“It’s kind of something you always do as a basketball kid; you try the crazy shots and the half-courters because you never know when you’re going to need them, obviously.”

McCarville wasn’t exactly nervous, either.

“Weirdly, I was oddly calm, like the whole thing was insane,” she said. “The whole day, all of my friends were freaking out. They were like, ‘Oh my God, you get to take the halfcourt shot, like are you nervous or are you excited — how are you feeling?’ I was obviously super excited. The experience, getting to be on College GameDay, it’s just surreal.”

After the shot, McCarville’s phone blew up with texts, calls and more from friends and family alike. It was a little overwhelming, so she only talked to family and close friends right away.

McCarville said she’s first female contestant to make the half-court shot.

As for what she plans to do with the money?

“Definitely invest and save to put toward college,” she said. “I think I’m going to study abroad this summer. I want to go to this program in Rome to get some of my core credits out of the way.”