'I was there to win': Presley Hudson wins NCAA 3-point contest, shows nation what she's done for four years
Presley Hudson stood alone in one of the four corners of the U.S. Bank Stadium behind the 3-point line, something she had become familiar with by this point of the night in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The Wayland native had already won the NCAA women's 3-point contest by totaling 65 points in a three-round span. In the additional fourth round, she was preparing for the Reese's Battle of the Champions Challenge against men's champion Clayton Custer of Loyola Chicago.
Hudson whipped her hands over the bottom of her white, low-top sneakers. She then rubbed her finger tips together and proceed to rub her shoe bottoms again with a straight face that articulated she was there for business.
And at her job, winning is the only aspect she is satisfied with.
"I wasn't there to play games, I was there to win," Hudson said with a smile days later in Mount Pleasant.
Hudson paced back and forth, her hands hovering over the first of five balls she would shoot off the rack to her right. She looked intently at the official who would allow her to start and gave a head nod saying she was ready to go, as if she hadn't expressed that already by her body language.
Knees bent, she gripped the basketball but the whistle didn't sound yet. She blew into both hands quickly and replaced her hands on the ball. In that moment, everything from her vision was still. The whistle sounded and Hudson began to pump away shots.
The first rack wasn't promising at first, as Hudson missed the first triple and went 2-of-4. However, the money ball went down as she started to trot towards the second rack.
After that, it was like she couldn't miss.
Hudson drained all five shots on the second rack. She only needed 15 to defeat Custer, and to any bystander watching, it was obvious she was going to be the fifth woman to win the competition in the last six years.
She fired away five more shots. All five landed through the circular orange frame, and Hudson made it feel like every basketball went where it belonged — in the bottom of the net. She had already claimed the crown of the competition by the third rack.
After making 11 straight and missing the second shot on the fourth rack, Hudson came back to hit the final three shots on her way towards the final five shots. The ESPN announcer said, "Kids, if you want to know how to shoot, watch Presley Hudson. She's unbelievable."
Yet for anyone who has watched her in the small town of Mount Pleasant over the past four seasons, it wasn't unforeseeable.
However, what she was about to do wasn't exactly an easy prediction.
As Hudson dropped the first four through the net on final rack, she propelled the final "money ball" into the air and turned around to all of the student-athletes behind her who were in awe. Fellow Mid-American Conference member C.J. Massinburg was recording the whole thing on his phone. The shot rimmed out, but it didn't matter.
Hudson had just done the unthinkable.
The CMU all-time leader in 3-pointers made netted 77-of-100 triples, the most-ever in the history of the competition. Throughout the contest, Hudson didn't think about the score. She just focused on making each shot as an individual task.
"If you try to think about the score you will worry about it too much," Hudson said. "If you worrying about your shot it isn't going to go in."
The players around Hudson mobbed her in awe of what they just watched happen in front of their eyes. She received multiple high fives, her former head coach Sue Guevara was in the stands waving her fists with fans, cheering on the player she helped mold over the last four seasons.
It was the last time Hudson would wear No. 3 — ironically enough — in a Chippewa uniform to represent the maroon and gold.
By the end of the night, it was quite the finale. Hudson took a photo with Minnesota Timberwolves guard Derrick Rose. She was trending on Twitter. She had CMU's name moving viral around the country with more and more posts coming by the second.
"(CMU) is a great school and I think more people should know about us," Hudson said. "I think it shows our sports can compete at the highest level. The atmosphere was incredible and the other athletes supporting me was awesome."
To former teammate, roommate and best friend Reyna Frost, Hudson winning the competition was never in doubt. She made it evident to the nation by tweeting before the competition, "Trying to figure out how Presley is about to fit this trophy on the plane."
"When she didn't hit a lot of the money balls and still did really good, I was like 'alright once she starts making the money balls people are really going to see how she can shoot,'" Frost said. "When she went against (Custer), I didn't think the guy really had a chance. I think he got a little scared watching her shoot in the last round.
"It was really cool seeing your best friend on television doing what she does best."
As Hudson prepares to watch the WNBA Draft, which is April 10 at 7 p.m., she was asked about if she could've ever imagined this all happening to her at CMU when she was still at Wayland Union High School.
Inking her name all over the CMU record books, giving the program it's first-ever NCAA Tournament run to the Sweet 16, winning three consecutive MAC regular season titles, winning the nation's 3-point contest. The list keeps going for all of the things Hudson will carry with her when she leaves Mount Pleasant.
Hudson wanted to accomplish everything she has done, but some of it wasn't always visible without all of the work she put in over her collegiate career.
"I knew I was going to try to put in the work to get there," Hudson said. "I'm just really thankful that I was able to do it. I wouldn't have been able to without my coaches and my teammates."
On that night, however, Hudson didn't take the floor with her teammates and coaches. They watched and supported her. April 5 belonged to Presley Hudson, she made it hers by putting the nation on notice.
In her mind, it was just another night at the office.