Duke’s Mason Plumlee averaged a respectable 7.2 points and 8.4 rebounds for a Blue Devils squad that spent most of last season as the No. 1-ranked team in America.
Still, the biggest cheers Plumlee received as a sophomore occurred not during a game, but at October’s “Countdown to Craziness,” which was Duke’s kickoff to the 2010-11 campaign. It was then – in front of a capacity crowd at Cameron Indoor Stadium – that Plumlee dunked not one, not two, but three basketballs at the same time.
Jaws dropped throughout the venue after Plumlee completed his gimmick flush. As is the case in arenas across the country, nothing brings Duke fans to their feet quite like a powerful dunk, and not many players are as good at delivering them as the 6-foot-11 Plumlee.
Whether it’s a windmill slam, a one-handed tomahawk jam or a rim-rattler off an alley-oop pass, Plumlee has a wide array of dunks in his arsenal. Many of them will be on display during the 2011-12 season, when Plumlee’s role with the Blue Devils is expected to increase.
Here’s a list of other dunk artists who will likely join Plumlee on highlight reels during the fall and spring.
Deuce Bello, Quincy Acy and Perry Jones, Baylor – No school boasts a trio of showmen as impressive as the ones at Baylor. Bello, an incoming freshman guard, was recently listed by Dime Magazine as the 19th-best dunker in the entire world, ranking ahead of NBA high-flyers such as Vince Carter, J.R. Smith and Dwyane Wade. Acy had 10 dunks in a single game against Texas two years ago and Jones is a future NBA lottery pick with freakish length and athleticism.
Harrison Barnes, North Carolina – Barnes’ leadership and basketball IQ are some of the main reasons he’s projected as an NBA lottery pick. But let’s face it: He’s also one of the country’s most versatile players. Barnes can score from beyond the 3-point line and also from midrange, but nothing revs him up more than snaking through the lane for a vicious slam.
Rodney Williams, Minnesota – With a 6.8-point scoring average, Williams was hardly one of the top threats on Minnesota’s roster last season. Still, there’s always an air of excitement when the 6-foot-7 sky-walker is on the court. The soon-to-be junior has some serious springs.
Jared Cunningham, Oregon State – Once he stopped screaming, a television announcer wasn’t exaggerating all that much when he said the 6-foot-4 Cunningham “kissed the sky” during a tip-dunk off a teammate’s miss last season. That slam alone earned Cunningham a spot on this list.
Andre Dawkins, Duke – Remember that dunk by Mason Plumlee we talked about earlier? Impressive as it was, Plumlee didn’t even win the Blue Devils’ dunk contest that night. Dawkins did. Dawkins is known for his 3-point shooting, but don’t be surprised if you see him swinging from the rim this season after a monster slam.
Elijah Johnson, Kansas – Johnson averaged just 13.7 minutes a game as a sophomore. But the departures of guards Brady Morningstar, Tyrel Reed and Josh Selby have created a huge opportunity for this dunker, whom Bill Self labeled as one of the most athletic players he’s ever recruited. Forward Thomas Robinson and wing Travis Releford can also throw it down.
Terrence Jones, Kentucky – It’s hard not to admire the fire and aggression of Jones, whose most impressive slams have come over multiple defenders after he’s driven through heavy traffic. Jones develops a mean streak when he gets into the paint, and that helps him finish with authority.
Kyle Kuric, Louisville – A 6-foot-4 guard, Kuric averaged 10.8 points for a surprising Louisville squad last season. But a lot of the high-fives and recognition he received around campus came after he posterized a handful of Big East opponents.
DeQuan Jones, Miami – Jones has been regarded as one of the nation’s top dunkers for several years now. Unfortunately, though, he hasn’t been productive enough to log many minutes. Jones has never averaged more than 5.7 points and 16.6 minutes during his three college seasons. Slam dunk fans are hoping that will change under new coach Jim Larranaga.
Jared Sullinger, Ohio State – Sullinger may tip the scales at 280 pounds, but that doesn’t do anything to limit his coordination and leaping ability. Sullinger’s size and strength help him clear out space for some thunderous dunks. Of all the players on this list, he may be the most likely to shatter a backboard.
LeBryan Nash, Oklahoma State – Anyone who watched the dunk contest at the McDonald’s All-American game last spring has to be excited about Nash, who won the event. Nash is preparing for his freshman year at Oklahoma State. A slasher, Nash is extremely mobile for his 6-foot-7, 212-pound frame.