STORY BY GIULIANA LAMANTIA
Anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock lately has heard of Alex Tillinghast, the first-year who miraculously netted a half court shot at the buzzer to win a 2014 Ford F-150 truck at the Nov. 4 Bulldog Madness event.
The nail-biting video went viral almost instantly, and Tillinghast became a media sensation overnight. Coverage ranged from SportsCenter, the Today Show, Huffington Post, Entertainment Tonight and more.
“My friends were all freaking out about it because almost all the guys I hang out with, either in the dorms or in Alpha Tau Omega, were at the event, so I got to see them and take pictures (with) them and stuff and it was really cool,” Tillinghast said.
Despite his sudden fame, Tillinghast remained humble throughout such a crazy week. In fact, his friends described him as an always kind and easy-going person.
“He was really humble about it and didn’t brag that he made the shot,” said first-year Mitch Schank, Tillinghast’s Alpha Tau Omega brother. “I felt like he really deserved it.”
Tillinghast describes the turn of events to his friends as unbelievable and surreal.
“I feel like I know the guy who did it and that’s really cool and really exciting, but I don’t feel like the person who did it. It’s just kind of crazy,” Tillinghast said.
Standing with a group of friends at Bulldog Madness, Tillinghast was approached by a woman asking if any of them wanted to participate in a contest.
However, there were conditions: the contestant could not be a current Drake athlete or have played basketball in high school.
Having not played basketball competitively since eighth grade, Tillinghast agreed. In order to win the truck, he had to make a layup, free throw, 3-pointer and half court shot in 30 seconds.
Things did not look hopeful at the beginning, when Tillinghast missed his first few shots.
“With the layups and stuff I felt like I was embarrassing myself, and then at that point adrenaline kicked in and I stopped thinking and started just doing,” Tillinghast said. “I don’t really remember much of that, and then I shot the half court shot and the next thing I knew there were basketball players everywhere.”
After making the nearly-impossible shot as the buzzer sounded, a sea of blue swarmed the court, full of Drake basketball players and Tillinghast’s friends cheering and supporting him
Even in all the rush, it ended up seeming like just an ordinary night, according to Schank.
“After he made the shot we just went back to our friends’ dorm and it was like it didn’t even happen, he was really chill about it,” Schank said.
Although many will now recognize Tillinghast for this luck, he came to Drake to pursue his passion for music, majoring in music education.
“I grew up in a musical household, and it was kind of one of those things where I’ve always loved it and I’ve always really excelled at,” Tillinghast said. “Drake has a reputation of having a really good music program, so I thought, ‘why not.’ Plus education is a really stable field, like there’s always going to be music education jobs open. Sharing music with kids is such a cool thing.”
Though Tillinghast sings and plays guitar, Tillinghast has also played tuba and trumpet.
With all the media attention Tilling received throughout the week, Tillinghast’s friends and family have been excited and supportive of him.
“I think this typically happens when someone does something that’s really incredible, and they kind of have little moments of fame,” said junior Xavier Quinn, another one of Tillinghast’s fraternity brothers. “I think it’s really cool to see one of my friends who’s getting all this support for this crazy thing that happened.”
Despite his fame, Tillinghast is still in awe and he said nothing feels much different in terms of his daily schedule.
“I woke up Wednesday and all this was happening it was kind of like, ‘Where is this coming from?’” Tillinghast said. “When I first made the shot I thought, ‘This is going to be a really cool thing here at Drake, like I’m going be popular at Drake,’ and then it was on Sports Center. It was like ‘Whoa, this is a much bigger thing than just here at Drake, so it’s just been kind of crazy.”