Nitin Reddy may never know what it feels like to get swept up in a swell of national attention, like Jason McElwain did when the then-senior with autism scored 20 points in his one and only varsity game. Still, Reddy got a glimpse of what it felt like to be McElwain during his first and -- almost certainly -- last varsity basketball game.
As reported in detail by the News & Observer, Reddy's story bears a number of striking similarities to McElwain's. Like the 2006 Rochester (N.Y.) Greece-Athena High graduate, Reddy also has an autism-like condition and spent his high school years as the manager for his school's varsity boys basketball team. When the Cary (N.C.) Green Hope High teen finally reached his designated senior night, Reddy got the chance to suit up.
Up until that point, Reddy -- who also led the varsity football team onto the field in the fall -- had played in a grand total of one game at any competitive level for Green Hope, earning minutes in a junior varsity game as a junior. Naturally, that competition was a far cry from the Green Hope-Cary varsity game he was set to enter on Tuesday.
Yet any doubts that Reddy would get playing time in one of his final opportunities vanished when Green Hope raced out to a big lead. That's when the crowd got into the act, chanting for Reddy to enter.
Finally, with 1:42 remaining, Reddy got his chance, and he certainly got the most out of it.
In just 102 seconds, Reddy fired up a whopping six three-point attempts. He hit one -- a bomb of a trey from around NBA range that took a friendly bounce off the back of the rim en route to hitting the bottom of the net -- and eventually left the court on the shoulders of his teammates.
That ceremonial court send off speaks volumes about how much the Green Hope team cares about Reddy, considering the fact that the game finished with a rather lopsided final score of 61-34.
"The top of the key is his money shot. He wasn't able to get it - he got it towards the wing and shot some pretty deep shots," Green Hope boys basketball coach Josh Green told the News & Observer. "But eventually they were going to fall because he's a good shooter. When it went in, it was pandemonium. Everybody went nuts, which is one of the highlights of the year."
Indeed, the reaction to Reddy's made shot in the video above gives a sense of the sheer delirium that accompanied the senior's bucket. It was almost as if the fans were willing the ball home.
In the end it got there, even if Reddy wasn't sure it was going to himself until the points were actually on the board.
"I thought it wasn't going to go in," said Reddy, who was carried off the court on the shoulders of his teammates after the postgame handshakes. "But after it hit the rim, it did."
A fitting conclusion to a touching senior game for a student Green Hope principal James Hendrick calls "the most spirited student," of his seven years on the job.
- Green Hope