Obama to shoot hoops in Indiana

April 2, 2008 6:57:51 PM PDT
Barack Obama will play three-on-three with a former Indiana University basketball star and four students, tapping the state's rich basketball tradition to help get out the vote for next month's primary.

An 18-year-old high school student who registers 20 people to vote will choose two students to help challenge the Democratic presidential candidate on the court, said Kevin Griffis, a spokesman for Obama's campaign in Indiana. If the winning student decides not to play, he or she can choose all three players.

Obama's team will include Calbert Cheaney, a former NBA player and NCAA basketball player of the year, and a college student who registers 30 new voters.

"We just were looking for a way to engage young people," Griffis said. "There simply is no better state to do this sort of thing than Indiana, where basketball is important to so many communities across the state."

Obama was a member of Hawaii's championship high school basketball team in 1979; the Illinois senator grew up on the island state. A recent YouTube video clip shows him casually sinking a three-point shot at a school gym in South Carolina during a visit to promote his education policies.

Cheaney, an Evansville, Ind., native who played for Indiana University and most recently was with the NBA's Golden State Warriors, said he has supported Obama from the "get-go."

"I'm just one of those guys that think he could be the man to change everything for the better," Cheaney said.

The game would be held at the winning 18-year-old's high school on a date to be determined, and likely be played according to standard three-on-three rules, in which the first team to reach 11 points wins, Obama's campaign said.

The contest is the latest effort by Obama and rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton to reach out to voters before Indiana's primary May 6, where 72 delegates are at stake. A Rushville woman won a dinner with Obama in an online donor initiative, and two Indiana women were chosen to follow Clinton for a day during a swing through the state last week.