The Custer family might have some empathy for political campaigners.
The parents of Forsyth Central basketball standout T.J. Custer have invested countless hours into their son’s desire to compete in the American Family Insurance National High School Slam Dunk & 3-Point Championships that will air during the NCAA Men’s Division I Final Four on CBS on April 6 at 2 p.m. in Atlanta.
Custer has worked his way from the men’s 3-point round of 16 to the championship matchup against Race Parsons from Monroe, Utah. The final round of voting, which requires voters to have a Facebook.com account, will take place until 1 p.m. on Wednesday, March 20.
"I feel like I’m working two full-time jobs," Deanna Custer said with a laugh. "We’ve been telling everybody to go vote for him. The school has it announced every day, we email, call people. We’ve tried to get TV stations involved, just everything. T.J. has people all over the country voting for him."
T.J. Custer moved from Augusta to Forsyth County during Christmas break of his ninth grade year. He played on the freshman basketball team, but didn’t see varsity action until his junior year. This season, Custer connected on 75 3-point attempts for a 35.78 shooting percentage from beyond the arc and finished his high school career with a total of 848 points.
His 3-point shooting ability caught the attention of the competition committee, which asked him to submit a highlight video in January. The committee chose seven shooters who automatically qualified for the competition and did not have to garner votes, while 16 more players were selected for a bracket-style voting competition for the final spot.
"I don’t really think of myself as a 3-point specialist," T.J. Custer said. "I just try to make it about the team. Coach [Greg] Dirst spent a lot of time with me in the gym helping me with my shot.
"[The voting] wasn’t stressful at the beginning because I didn’t think it was possible to get where I am. I just have to thank everyone that’s voted for me."
If Custer defeats Parsons, the organization will send a car to pick him up at his house and drive him to Atlanta to spend three days and two nights in the city before the 3-point shooting competition with the winner to receive a trophy.
"I’m going to do my best," Custer said. "It would mean so much to me [to do well]. My dream is to keep playing basketball and this is a good way for [college scouts] to see me."
To vote for Custer, visit http://www.highschoolslam.com/highschool/canvas. As of press time, he remained tied with Parsons at 50 percent.
Fans are permitted to vote once each day until the competition ends.