Top ten dunkers to watch in 2012-2013

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Throughout the month of October, CollegeBasketballTalk will be rolling out our previews for the 2012-2013 season. Check back at 9 a.m. and just after lunch every day, Monday-Friday, for a new preview item.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To look at the rest of The Lists we’ve published, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

The dunk.

Next to only the game-winning buzzer-beater, the dunk is the greatest single moment in any single college basketball game. The multitude of various scenarios in which a dunk can take place leaves fans on the edge of their seats. A dunk can ignite a crowd, silence an opposition or fuel a comeback.

Everybody wishes they could dunk, but only a select few are granted the ability to do so. Of these select few, only a smaller group, a “squadron” if you will, of elite rim rockers emerge each season to captivate us with their athleticism, grace, and raw power.

2012-2013 Preseason Top-10 Ranking of Best Dunkers

Honorable Mention: Kwame Alexander – Cal State San Bernadino (DII), Deuce Bello – Baylor, Vander Blue – Marquette, Ramon Galloway – La Salle, Pierre Jackson – Baylor, Mason Plumlee – Duke, Tahj Tate – Delaware State, Dezmine Wells – Maryland

10. Chris Evans, 6-7, Sr., Kent State

We are going off the map for No.10 with the Golden Flashes’ do-everything small forward. Evans won’t wow you, but he will dunk in your face, no questions asked.  The former-JuCo star doesn’t have elite leaping ability but he has great timing, a quick first bounce, and can run the floor well. Like, really really well.

Evans flew under the radar in 2011-2012. If defenders knew what was good for them, they would make sure he’s scouted and accounted for in 2012-2013.

9. Ronald Roberts,  6-8, Jr., St. Joseph’s

The 2011-2012 Atlantic-10 Sixth man of the Year has some serious length to go along with his well-rounded skill set. He was named as the “Most Improved Player” on the team last season, and was due in large part to his elite aerial acumen. Many of Roberts’ dunks came in prototypical “Sixth Man” fashion: off of missed shots, broken plays and backdoor cuts.

Roberts may not be the most flashy dunker in the country, but he’s bound to be one of the most constant and consistent dunkers in 2012-2013. As long as Ronald Roberts is flying high, the St. Joe’s Hawk will never die.

8. Laurence Bowers, 6-8, Sr., Missouri

Remember Laurence Bowers? You don’t but you probably should. The springy forward tore his ACL during the preseason last year and missed all of the 2011-2012 season. But if you remember anything about the 2010-2011 season, you remember Bower’s freakish aerial abilities.  Now, it would be naive of us to expect Bowers to be the same dunker he was before the ACL injury. But if you remember watching him dunk, you know that even an ACL tear won’t hinder his dunking prowess too much.

7. Victor Rudd, 6-7, Jr., South Florida

Victor Rudd only had one spectacular dunk last season. But boy was it spectacular. The extra-long South Florida small forward isn’t the most adept dunker, but man, he can really throw down.

No joke, Rudd tried to parlay the success from his signature moment into an early entry into the 2012 NBA. Luckily, somebody got to him soon enough and told him to go back to school. Rudd isn’t going to wow you on a consistent basis, but every time he gets the ball on a fast break, you’re going to be sitting on the edge of your seat. Trust me.

6.  Kyisean Reed, 6-6, Sr., Utah State

There is not a player in the country more talented at dunking off of two feet than Kyisean Reed. He won’t be taking anybody off the dribble from the foul line, tongue out, but if he’s in and around the paint, it’s likely that Reed is jumping higher than everybody around him. His sheer bounce is more bouncy than most everyone in the country, and his strength on the throw-down is equally impressive.

Plus, Reed loves the spotlight. All the great dunkers do.

5.  C.J. Fair, 6-8, Jr., Syracuse

C.J. Fair is the total package when it comes to above the rim action. The junior forward has great athleticism, excellent length, a deep bag of tricks and an effortless delivery. He has a solid resume of posterizations, and is the type of player that defenders tend to forget about every other play or so. Unfortunately, C.J. Fair is the last player you want to forget about on defense.

Oh and look at that smile. It’s refreshing to know that some kids are just having fun out there.  But don’t think that Fair doesn’t know how to “mean mug” when the time calls for it.

4. Shaquille Johnson, 6-5, Fr., Auburn

It’s very simple. Shaquille Johnson is the real deal. He is the next big thing. Peep the video and you will see why.

3. Andre Roberson, 6-7, Jr., Colorado

Like many of the other members of the top-10, Roberson has a long frame and can glide through the paint with ease. His lightweight build makes it easy for him to get up in a hurry and beat his defender to the basket.

The junior hasn’t shown the deepest bag of tricks  but he is rather good at one-handed posterizations. We’re certain that Roberson will diversify his aerial arsenal in 2012-2013. Expect big things out of Roberson and his Buffs squad.

2. Rodney Williams, 6-7, Sr., Minnesota

Rodney Williams does it all. He’s got elite athleticism, tremendous leaping ability and a phenomenal court sense. No dunker in the country is as good at Williams when it comes to finding an open flight path to the basket. His spacing on the court is precise, and has the ability to mix up the style of his dunks.

Williams is not without his flaws. His 1-on-1 skills are limited and doesn’t have the best touch from beyond 12 feet. While he may struggle to find a consistent jump shot there is no doubt that he is always on-point with his dunks. Rodney Williams has shown time and time again that he is one of the very best dunkers in the country.

1. Markel Brown, 6-3, Jr., Oklahoma State

Markel “Bad News” Brown is the baddest man on the college hoops planet.

Markel Brown is a freak athlete, a composer of beautiful yet precise violence, and has very little regard for human life. Case and point, January 25, 2012 in Stillwater, OK. That’s the date and location of when Markel Brown got ejected from a game against Missouri because he wouldn’t stop dunking all over everybody.

In the entire pantheon of college basketball There has never been a single game performance in which one individual caused such a massive path of dunk destruction as Markel Brown versus Missouri.

Oh, and then there was the time “Bad News Brown” caught a three-quarter quart alley-oop against Kansas as time expired.

Markel Brown does not care who you are or where you came from. He will find you, and he will dunk over you and your entire immediate family.

His repertoire of tricks is as diverse as the come, and he is unquestionably the meanest-looking dude in town (:33sec mark)

#LobStilly

Troy Machir is the managing editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @TroyMachir.

Point man: Can Nick Weiler-Babb’s move to PG put Iowa State back in the tourney?

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AMES, Ia. — It was clear Iowa State needed a change. The Cyclones stood 0-2 with an 18-point home loss to Milwaukee already on the resume. It was clear they were due for a reboot this season after losing four starters – including All-American point guard Monte Morris – but getting trounced at Hilton Coliseum by a team picked to finish eighth in the Horizon League constitutes an emergency.

The Cyclones didn’t panic, though. They adjusted. 

After that disastrous start to the season, coach Steve Prohm moved Nick Weiler-Babb from small forward to point guard while slotting the two players who had been manning the point –  sharpshooter Donovan Jackson and five-star freshman Lindell Wigginton – off the ball.

All Iowa State done since is win.

The Cyclones have rattled off seven-straight with Weiler-Babb flirting with triple-doubles, Jackson shooting 41.6 percent from deep and Wigginton looking like a future star.

“Good we moved him over there,” Prohm said.

It certainly has been good for the Cyclones. Iowa State was 9 of 34 (26.5 percent) from 3-point range, shot 38.8 percent overall and failed to reach 60 points in its opening two losses. In the seven games since, they’re converting at a 46.4 percent clip overall, 39.4 percent from distance and averaging 83.6 points per game. They’ve seemingly become a different team with Weiler-Babb at the helm.

“It’s taking a whole new role,” Weiler-Babb said. “Coach just told me whatever I have to do to win, I have to do it. That’s what I’ve tried to do. Take the ball out of the guys’ hands and give it to the scorers.”

The 6-foot-5 junior is averaging 7.9 assists along with 12.8 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. He’s become indispensable for the Cyclones a year after being a bit player on the Big 12 tournament championship team.

“He went through some tough times last year,” Prohm said. “But that’s what everybody’s got to understand. Freshmen, sophomore, you’ve got to put your time in a little bit to have success and earn success. He’s doing that.”

The immediate returns have been spectacular for Iowa State, but a question still lingers as they eye Big 12 play later this month.

Is it real?

Or, rather, will it be real against an unforgiving Big 12 schedule? Given Iowa State’s non-conference slate, whether it is or not will determine the postseason fate of a team sitting on a program-best six-straight NCAA tournament appearances.

As good as Weiler-Babb and the Cyclones have been during their seven-game winning streak, the competition can’t be ignored. Iowa State’s best win during this stretch is either Boise State, which only got 8 minutes from Chandler Hutchison after a head injury, or Iowa, which is 5-6 with losses to Louisiana Lafayette and South Dakota State. The wins haven’t all come easy for Iowa State, either. They narrowly defeated Appalachian State and Tulsa while initially struggling against Northern Illinois and Alcorn State before pulling away.

Things have been good for the Cyclones, but they haven’t been perfect.

Iowa State is a mediocre shooting team overall and could have serious spacing issues going forward given the roster forces Prohm to play two non-shooting bigs together for major minutes. Wigginton has been excellent, scoring 20-plus in three of the last four games, but his level of athleticism is something the likes of Western Illinois can’t counter. Texas, Kansas and West Virginia can. Big swaths of the roster, which features eight newcomers, haven’t faced Big 12 caliber competition ever in their careers. Weiler-Babb’s size and skill at the point guard position makes him a major problem for mid-majors, but can he keep up this pace when he faces length and physicality similar to his own?

Those questions, though, have to be welcomed by the Cyclones. If there were answers to them for a team with so much youth and so many unproven players in new positions in mid-December, it probably would register in the negative.

That they’re unknown means there is possibility, opportunity and promise. That exists in no small part because Prohm made Weiler-Babb a point guard.

“The challenge is, what do we really want to be?” Prohm said. “But he spearheads everything we do.”

Texas’ Jones out with a broken wrist

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Texas may be without its leading scorer heading into conference play.

Longhorns coach Shaka Smart announced Monday that sophomore Andrew Jones suffered a hairline fracture in his right wrist and will be sidelined for the foreseeable future.

“Fortunately it’s not one of those injuries where he should be out for an extended long period of time,” Smart said at his news conference Monday, “but he’s going to miss at least the next few games before Christmas. They decided not to put it in a cast, which is good news.”

Jones suffered the injury last week against VCU when he took a number of tumbles to the floor. He’s averaging 15.3 points while shooting 52.4 percent from the floor and 43.2 percent from 3-point range.

“It’s a tough injury for us because he’s our leading scorer and has done a phenomenal job for us this year,” Smart said. “We’re going to need everyone on our team, not just guards, but everyone on our team to step up and take a little more responsibility.

“Your margin for error is a little smaller.”

The Longhorns, who are 6-2 with losses to Duke and Gonzaga, face Michigan on Tuesday, Louisiana Tech on Saturday and Alabama next week. Jones is certainly out for those games, and his availability for Texas’ first Big 12 games – Dec. 29 vs. Kansas and Jan. 1 at Iowa State – would seem to be in question.

“We don’t have an exact timeframe,” Smart said. “It’s really good news they didn’t put it in a cast.

“We’re hopeful that we can get him back in three, four weeks, but that’s not a set timetable.”

 

Coaches Poll: Villanova climbs to the No. 1 spot

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The new top 25 coaches poll is out, and the No. 1 team in college basketball is now Villanova.

Michigan State, who received 10 of a possible 32 first-place votes, came in at No. 2 while Duke, last week’s No. 1 team, fell to No. 4 with a loss to Boston College.

After winning at Kansas this week, Arizona State vaulted up to the No. 6 spot, while the Jayhawks fell to No. 12.

Here is the full coaches poll.

1. Villanova (22 first-place votes)
2. Michigan State (10)
3. Wichita State
4. Duke
5. Kentucky
6. Arizona State
7. North Carolina
8. Miami
9. Xavier
10. Texas A&M
11. West Virginia
12. Kansas
13. Gonzaga
14. TCU
15. Seton Hall
16. Virginia
17. Purdue
18. Notre Dame
19. Florida State
20. Tennessee
21. Baylor
22. Florida
23. Arizona
24. Oklahoma
25. Creighton

Villanova hops over Michigan State for No. 1 in AP Top 25

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Villanova’s unbeaten start now includes a No. 1 ranking in the AP Top 25 , while Arizona State is making a rapid rise into the top 10 under third-year coach Bobby Hurley.

After a tumultuous week in which unanimous No. 1 Duke and No. 2 Kansas lost, the Wildcats (10-0) earned 41 of 65 first-place votes to hop over Michigan State and reach the top for the third straight season.

Villanova and Michigan State were the favorites to take over at the top after the Blue Devils’ weekend loss at Boston College, though there was far less certainty for voters about who was now the nation’s top team. The Spartans (9-1) earned 19 first-place votes to climb from third to second, while the other five first-place votes went to the Sun Devils — who leapt 11 spots to No. 5 after Sunday’s win at Kansas.

Arizona State (9-0) is off to its best start since the 1974-75 season. Now the Sun Devils — who also have a win against Xavier this season — have their highest ranking since reaching third during the 1980-81 season.

Wichita State climbed three spots to No. 3, followed by Duke and Arizona State. Unbeaten Miami climbed four spots to No. 6, followed by North Carolina, Kentucky, Texas A&M and Xavier to round out the top 10.

Villanova helped itself with an impressive win against No. 12 Gonzaga last week in New York, though the Wildcats had to fight to the final minute Sunday to close out a La Salle team that entered at 5-5.

“It’s always an honor to be ranked No. 1,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said in a statement. “It’s great for the Nova Nation and we appreciate the respect of the writers. We know it’s early, though, and we need to get a lot better.”

KANSAS’ FALL

The Jayhawks (7-2) slid 11 spots to No. 13 after two losses last week, the first coming against Washington in Kansas City, Missouri, before losing to the Sun Devils in Allen Fieldhouse.

SHUFFLE UP

Only two teams — No. 8 Kentucky and No. 12 Gonzaga — stayed in the same spot. Thirteen teams rose in the poll, while four of the seven teams that fell slid at least eight spots.

TOP RISERS

Arizona State’s leap was the biggest, though No. 11 West Virginia (9-1) moved up seven spots after beating then-No. 15 Virginia. No. 14 TCU (10-0) climbed six spots after a win against a then-ranked Nevada team.

Miami, UNC, No. 15 Seton Hall, No. 17 Purdue and No. 20 Tennessee all climbed four spots.

LONGEST SLIDES

While Kansas’ losses stood out, No. 22 Florida had the biggest fall of the week.

The Gators (6-3) slid 17 spots after home losses to Florida State and to Loyola Chicago — a game in which they led for all of 93 seconds. Florida salvaged a win against Cincinnati in the Never Forget Tribute Classic in Newark, New Jersey, to avoid a four-game skid.

No. 18 Notre Dame (8-2) fell nine spots after an upset loss to Ball State, while the No. 25 Bearcats (7-2) slid eight spots.

NEWCOMERS

There were three newcomers to this week’s poll, though one is more of a welcome back.

The list included No. 19 Florida State (9-0) and No. 24 Texas Tech (7-1), while Arizona returned to the rankings at No. 23.

Arizona’s 0-3 showing at the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas made the Wildcats the first team in three decades to go from No. 2 in the AP Top 25 to unranked in a week. But four straight wins have the preseason Final Four favorite back in the poll.

SLIDING OUT

Minnesota (No. 14 last week), Nevada (No. 22) and Southern California (No. 25) all fell out of the poll.

1. Villanova (41 first-place votes)
2. Michigan State (19)
3. Wichita State
4. Duke
5. Arizona State (5)
6. Miami
7. North Carolina
8. Kentucky
9. Texas A&M
10. Xavier
11. West Virginia
12. Gonzaga
13. Kansas
14. TCU
15. Seton Hall
16. Virginia
17. Purdue
18. Notre Dame
19. Florida State
20. Tennessee
21. Baylor
22. Florida
23. Arizona
24. Texas Tech
25. Cincinnati

Expelled Yale captain has enrolled at Belmont University

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — Former Yale basketball captain Jack Montague, who was expelled from the Ivy League school in 2016 for sexual misconduct, has enrolled at Belmont University in Tennessee.

Montague, who is still suing to be readmitted to Yale, complained in a court deposition last spring that he was unable to apply to other schools. He said Yale would not release his transcript until he paid a disputed tuition bill.

Karen Schwartzman, a spokeswoman for Montague, says Yale later released the transcript, allowing Montague to enroll at Belmont this fall. She says not all of his credits transferred and he will need two semesters to graduate.

He exhausted his basketball eligibility at Yale.

Montague denies the sexual misconduct allegations. No criminal charges were ever sought.

Yale’s attorneys have said the school and its officials acted appropriately.

The lawsuit, which also seeks monetary damages, is expected to go to trial next year.