Markus Burden, randomly picked from the crowd of freshmen, stepped up to the half court line Thursday during Welcome Week’s introduction to university athletics. 

This was his shot at scoring free tuition, a chance he would get once in a lifetime. 

He lined up his first shot right down the center and threw the basketball and missed. On the second shot, he was doubting he would make it at all. 

Burden said he thought, “I’ve got to hit this shot for my mom. You can do this, you’ve done this before.”

He said he felt confident in his basketball skills, but he felt the pressure of being watched by 3,700 people. 

After his third miss, the basketball flitted through the hoop, and Worthen Arena erupted in applause. Burden won $11,084 worth of free tuition.

“People ask what was going through my head in that moment, but I didn’t have any thoughts,” Burden said. “It was all sights. When that ball hit the net, it was the sight of joy.”

Burden, of Frankfort, Ill., is a freshman sales and marketing major. That same day before he went to Worthen Arena, Burden talked about the half-court shot for free tuition during a meeting at his residence hall.

“I said if I got the chance to shoot, I would hit it in three shots,” Burden said. 

While the university has offered the half-court shot for free tuition before, this is the first time a student has actually won it.

“I didn’t know that at first, but now that I realize it, it’s a good accomplishment,” Burden said. “Now I know I will be in history at Ball State University.”

Only a day of classes in, Burden said he has been interviewed almost 30 times. The video of him sinking the shot and his story has been on “Good Morning America,” WGN, FOX Sports, CBS and several other news stations and newspapers. 

Burden’s dad, Marvin Burden, said he is very proud but gave words of wisdom to his son.

“I spoke with him about the attention he is getting because of this, and I told him to enjoy it,” Marvin Burden said. “But as the school year starts, he’s got to focus on what’s important.”

The first thing Markus Burden did was call his mom, who didn’t believe him at first until a friend sent her a picture of him on the court. 

“Now we have more breathing room, financially,” he said.

Back at home, Burden wasn’t a basketball all-star in high school, but he enjoyed it as a hobby with friends. He has been getting a lot of reactions from family members and friends about the now famous shot.

“The wisest thing a friend has said to me is, ‘Now you have done this, you have to keep going hard. Not only in your school life, but you’ve got to hit those books,’” he said.