There aren't too many dunks that can win an earth-bound 6-foot-10 big man a slam-dunk contest, so Buffalo's Mitchell Watt knew he needed to get creative Friday night to outdo his teammates at Midnight Madness.
As a result, he borrowed from his past as a high school soccer goalkeeper and concocted a dunk few would have been able to pull off.
Adept at the back heel flick from messing around on the soccer field as a kid, Watt went to the gym about 45 minutes prior to the start of Midnight Madness to see if he could turn that into a successful dunk. Though he only pulled off the heel flick self-alley-oop about 20 percent of the time during that lone practice session, he got it on the first try during the contest, flicking it to himself in mid-air for an emphatic one-handed jam.
"I tried it because I wanted to do something original that nobody else had ever done," Watt said. "I'd always been able to do the heel flick and I knew I could get it high enough to dunk it, but the whole time I was trying it I could only get it about one out of five times. I was really nervous. They gave us a minute to complete a dunk in the contest, but I was lucky enough to get it on the first try."
It's possible that World Cup fever took hold of college hoops this summer because Watt wasn't the only dunk contest participant to pull off a slam involving a heel flick on Friday night.
At Duke's Countdown to Craziness on Friday night, guard Casey Peters and forward Miles Plumlee combined for a heel flick alley-oop. Peters placed the ball on the right baseline and effortlessly back-heel flicked it to Plumlee streaking toward the rim from the left wing for a two-handed alley-oop slam.
Whereas Plumlee's dunk was somehow only good enough for second place at Duke, Watt won Buffalo's contest with a perfect score. Junior forward Titus Robinson had a solid effort in the last dunk of the night, but nowhere good enough to defeat Watt.
"I told him he didn't want me to go last," Watt said. "Titus' dunk was really nice, but a lot of people said it was tough to follow up the dunk I did. Not many people are impressed when a tall guy can do a windmill, so I had to do something that would shock anybody no matter how tall I was."