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Freshman Kwesi Mensah downs half-court basket for free tuition

Updated: Sep 20, 2022

It was the shot of a lifetime.

And it went in — nothing but net.

Belmont freshman Paa Kwesi Mensah did the unthinkable Thursday night in the Curb Event Center and made the infamous half-court shot to get his next semester’s tuition paid in full.

The feat has not been accomplished since Jan. 21, 2018, but Mensah ended the drought at the Belmont men’s game against Lipscomb University. The biology freshman drew inspiration from the great Michael Jordan, he said.

“I watched ‘The Last Dance’ last year and MJ said, ‘You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take’ and I in my head said, ‘Whatever happens, at least you tried,’” he said. 

Mensah took a running start and lofted the ball like a Hail Mary buzzer-beater in the NBA finals. He didn’t know it splashed in until the crowd started jumping to its feet.

“I was just surprised. I was shocked, honestly,” Mensah said.

After sinking the shot, he leaped into the arms of his friends as the stadium roared around him.

Typically, Belmont students are chosen from a lottery to take the shot, but after Mensah’s friend, who air-balled the half-courter early this year, challenged him to ask for a chance.

 “I believe it was a perfect night just by the way Belmont played, and the energy, the crowd, all of my friends being there, my classmates. … It was perfect.”

Before Thanksgiving break, Mensah, who attended Hillsboro High School in Nashville, found himself in the Belmont FitRec basketball gym with his friends to perfect his shot. 

“We just played a little bit and at the end, we just started shooting half-court shots, so a little bit of practice went in,” he said.   

Mensah will get all of next semester’s tuition paid for entirely by the university and plans to save the money he would have spent.

And while the money is great, it’s the memory of the basket and the crowd going wild that will last forever, he said. 

“It’s a moment I could never forget. Just being in that moment, it was so amazing. It was very thrilling, the energy was there. I loved it. I loved the feeling.” 

PHOTO: Kwesi Mensah (right) prepares for the half-court shot Thursday. Belmont Vision / Sarah Maninger.

This article was written by A.J. Wuest.

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