Martin Methodist (located in Pulaski, Tennessee) guard James Justice entered the College Slam Dunk competition as the wild card entry thanks to online voting.
He left Fogleman Arena with a championship belt for his efforts. The senior with a 52-inch vertical capped an entertaining night with a between-the-legs dunk, beating Auburn’s Kenny Gabriel to win the title.
Reaching the semifinals along with Justice and Gabriel were Miami’s DeQuan Jones and Clemson’s Bryan Narcisse. It’s been said many times before but it’s true: the college dunk contest was far better than the NBA “competition” in February.
Not sure about the background music but here’s the video Martin Methodist put together to boost Justice’s chances of getting into the competition:
Last year the contest was won by another unknown at the time of entry, Illinois College guard Jacob Tucker. Tucker’s now a Harlem Globetrotter (as are five other college slam dunk contest winners), so maybe that could be a career option for Justice.
Another big winner was Northwestern wing John Shurna, who not only won the men’s 3-point contest but beat USC’s Ashley Corral with a 24-point performance in the battle of the champions.
Shurna’s hardest work came in the men’s final, where he needed to knock down his final seven shots to beat Temple’s Juan Fernandez…and did it. Corral won the women’s competition by scoring 20 points in the women’s final.
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.