College Slam Dunk, 3-Point Recap
The NCAA’s finest hold it down in NOLA.
The first big event to pop-off Final Four weekend is always the NCAA Slam Dunk and 3 Point Championships, and things were no different this year in New Orleans. Fresh off of attending John Lucas Coaches’ mixer (which was legit, by the way), Ty Kish from CityLeagueHoops and I jettisoned over to the campus of Tulane University to catch the NCAA’s finest put on a show for all the fans in attendance.
A quaint 3,600 seat gym, Fogelman Arena provided a more intimate atmosphere than you’ll find at a lot of the bigger gyms in the Midwest. It’s amazing to think that I was watching Jerald Honeycutt dominate the conference in my teens in a gym that was smaller than some gyms I played in during high school. It provided a super hyped environment only fitting for New Orleans with the sold out capacity that it brought to the table.
While things jumped off a little late, the first round of things was hot and heavy, and was finished in about 5 minutes. My choice, UNLV’s Chase Stanback, got bounced in the first round, showing what I know about guessing 3-point winners. Juan Fernandez of Temple and Ryne Smith of Purdue went at it in what was the most exciting battle of round one. Rather than eliminating cats based on their head-to-head matchups, the top-4 scores made it to the second round. The four who moved on were Juan Fernandez, Ryne Smith, John Shurna and Marcus Denmon.
The second round was with similar rapid fire. The guys at InterSport really do an outstanding job of keeping an event rolling while also incorporating a ton of fan activity. Northwestern’s Shurna and Temple’s Fernandez got loose, winding up with 20 and 19 points, respectively, and making it to the finals.
The finals were as hyped as you can imagine for a 3 point contest. Fernandez came out blazing and wound up finishing with 20, which you thought would have had him sitting pretty, right? Wrong. Shurna came out firing and even though he has a super unorthodox stroke, wound up nailing the entire final rack to finish with 20 and the 3-point crown on the final money ball.
Things died down a bit for the women’s 3-point championship. No one was really killing like THAT, but USC’s Ashley Corral shot it with enough consistency to narrowly edge off the field to take home the crown. Corral was out of gas when it came to the Battle of The Sexes Challenge, and couldn’t top the 24 that John Shurna put on the board.
Finally, it was time for the climax: The Denny’s College Slam Dunk Contest. The field didn’t have a ton of star power, but left fans to wonder who was going to be the dude with the sneaky bounce to come up and win the grand slam. Duke’s Miles Plumlee, Miami’s DeQuan Jones, Auburn’s Kenny Gabriel, Oregon’s Olu Ashalou, Wichita State’s David Kyles, Clemson’s Bryan Narcisse, Northwestern State’s William Mosely and NAIA Martin Methodist’s James Justice.
Clemson’s Bryan Narcisse got everything started right by jumping up and touching nearly a foot above the top of the square before killing a between-the-legs alley-oop. DeQuan Jones shocked fans with a windmill from behind the glass, via an off the glass pass from Marcus Denmon. 5’9 James Justice played it safe by throwing down an impressive windmill, while Kenny Gabriel one-upped him by banging a windmill oop from the side of the board from Denmon. Continuing the windmill topic, Duke’s Miles Plumlee threw down what I thought was a nice windmill off of the bounce. UNC recruit JP Tokoto didn’t agree with me, based on the zero that he was caught flashing. On the lesser end of the spectrum, Wichita State’s David Kyles pulled his best Chris Anderson impression by not connecting on a single dunk.
The final four gave each of the fellas two dunks with a group of Narcisse, Justice, Gabriel, and Jones. Narcisse, the highest leaper of the group, got things going with alley-oop off of the shot clock. Other notables included Kenny Gabriel’s 360 slam off of a between-the-legs pass from Denmon. Hella hard to explain in words, but it looked pretty damn cool. DeQuan Jones tried to kill the crowd literally by bringing a running motorcyle on to the court and jumping over it. The diminutive Justice jumped over two guys and made his way to the finals against Gabriel.
With 60 seconds to complete each dunk in the finals, as opposed to the usual 30, it gave the guys a chance to show out to their fullest capability. Kenny Gabriel went back like he was about to take off from the foul line, only to throw an oop and wind up jumping from about 10 feet away. This set everything up for Justice, who already had the crowd on his back by winning the Facebook contest with this video just to get to NOLA. He dropped a between the legs dunk off the bounce to bring home the crown to tiny Martin Methodist and his hometown of Memphis.
With that, I’m out and off to the InterSport party. Big ups to them for an amazing night of hoops and if the party they have going on is anything like this, it’s going to be one hell of a night in New Orleans.