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Shooting hoops for a good cause

Community teamwork in the spirit of making a difference is always inspiring.

It’s what makes the difference between a good place to live and a great place to live.

That’s why former Ole Miss great Keith Carter is briefly coming out of retirement this week.

Carter is arguably the greatest 3-point shooter in Rebel basketball history – he led Ole Miss to its only Sweet 16 appearance ever – and now he is going to make some baskets for a good cause.

Additionally, a caring, locally-owned Oxford business — University Sporting Goods — is helping make it all happen.

Here’s the story: A group of Ole Miss students has been putting plans together for next week on campus to start a conversation about the importance of mental health and well-being, raising awareness on such issues as suicide and alcohol and drug misuse.

One fraternity on campus hit in the past year-and-a-half with the loss of a few members wanted to join the effort of awareness and fundraising by doing something around a healthy activity – basketball.

I had the opportunity to sit with them on a brainstorming session of what to do and smiled when they landed on the perfect thing: basketball goals set up in the so-called business corridor on campus for three days next week with the aim of having 1,000 3-point shots made for the cause.

The idea was to get a sponsor putting up $1 for every bucket made, having students, Ole Miss faculty and staff, and even members of the community, make 3-point shots.

The men of Phi Delta Theta are sponsoring “Ball for Life: A Thousand Threes in Three Days” Monday through Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Galtney Lott Plaza.

Here’s the kicker: Our friends at University Sporting Goods enabled this fun fundraising and awareness event by paying $1 for every 3-point shot made, up to $1,000.

The story goes that Phi Delta Theta members went to visit with University Sporting Goods co-owner Jeff Busby (also president of the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors) to pitch him the concept. Midway through the conversation, Jeff smiled and said, “I’ve heard enough. We’re in.”

Oxford businesses get asked to do a lot and resources only go so far, but when its right, its right. Healthy activity. Basketball. Competition. It was the proverbial no-brainer for University Sporting Goods, which supports all those things.

The same can be said for Keith Carter, one of our greatest assets at Ole Miss and Oxford, a fact that has more to do with his quality as a person than the fact that he was an All-American on the court and is now a leader on campus as deputy athletic director.

Still, if you need to make 1,000 3-point shots in three days, Carter is the first person you contact in these parts. And that’s just what the students did, asking if he could spare some time to make some baskets.

Despite the fact that Carter retired from basketball in 2008 after playing six years professionally in Italy, he quickly agreed to drop by the 3-point competition to take some of USG’s donated dollars.

“I’ll get loosened up over the weekend!” Carter said.

Thus, Tuesday at noon at the Galtney Lott Plaza on campus is when it will all go down, Carter getting (briefly) back in the game on the Ole Miss campus.

Drop on by if you want to get a glimpse of such community teamwork in action.

David Magee is publisher of The Oxford EAGLE. He can be reached at david.magee@oxfordeagle.com.