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.

Wichita State getting more national respect with non-conference scheduling

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Wichita State is starting to gain more national respect with regards to its non-conference schedule.

Since moving to the American Athletic Conference this spring, the Shockers have not only gained the benefit of being in a multi-bid league every year, but they’re also getting better teams to play them outside of conference play.

According to a report from Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle, the Shockers now have non-conference games scheduled with Baylor, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State this season. With Wichita State also playing in the Maui Invitational, it gives the Shockers plenty of opportunities to schedule quality opponents and improve its NCAA tournament seeding. And that’s before Wichita State starts conference play.

Although Wichita State was getting invited regularly to prestigious non-conference tournaments such as Maui or the Battle 4 Atlantis, they were having a tough time getting certain schools to book home-and-home series. The Baylor series signifies a small, but significant, change to how Wichita State might be able to do things now.

USC forward Bennie Boatwright returning for junior year

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USC has a chance to be really good next season as forward Bennie Boatwright announced that he’s returning for his junior season.

The 6-foot-10 forward put up 15.1 points and 4.5 rebounds per game while shooting 36 percent from three-point range as his return means that the Trojans should be a major contender in the Pac-12 next season. Elijah Stewart also announced this week that he is returning as USC could start Jordan McLaughlin, De’Anthony Melton, Stewart, Boatwright and Chimezie Metu next season.

With Duke transfer Derryck Thornton Jr. also becoming eligible and McDonald’s All-American guard Charles O’Bannon Jr. entering the program, the Trojans are a potential top-10 team.

Following decommitment, four-star recruit makes eye-opening remarks about Ohio State

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Ohio State lost a four-star recruit on Wednesday when in-state Class of 2018 wing Darius Bazley opted to open up his recruitment.

As a rising senior who is just finishing his junior season of high school, Bazley’s decommitment isn’t going to immediately hurt the Buckeyes next season. But the 6-foot-7 wing’s comments about why he opted to open up his recruitment are pretty jarring.

In a story with Adam Jardy of the Columbus Dispatch, Bazley opened up about why he decommitted from Ohio State. Bazley’s eye-opening remarks include how the Buckeyes might not get him ideal NBA exposure and how Ohio State might miss the NCAA tournament in his freshman year.

“I was excited when I first got the offer,” Bazley said to Jardy. “Ohio State is still a great place. It’s nothing against the school or anything, but my one ultimate goal is to get to the NBA and I just didn’t feel as confident as I did when I first committed that Ohio State was one of those schools that could get me there. At the end of the day I’ve got to perform no matter where I go, but I think there’s other schools out there that could put me on a bigger stage and in a better position to show those NBA scouts when I get to college what I can do.”

Bazley also didn’t appear to be pleased at the recruiting class coming into Ohio State for the Class of 2017, which is the class that is coming in this season. Remember, Bazley is a Class of 2018 recruit who still has to finish his senior season.

“Ohio State, they didn’t make the NCAA Tournament this year,” Bazley said to Jardy. “They didn’t even make the NIT, which is unfortunate, but I looked into the recruits they have coming into next year, they didn’t look too good for the future. So I felt like when my class came in, yeah, we would’ve been OK, but good enough to make the tournament? I don’t know. I just felt as if I was to de-commit, actually take my time, figure everything out it would just be a lot better.”

Ohio State was once one of the major destinations for one-and-done players a decade ago so these remarks are very surprising. D’Angelo Russell was a top-five pick in the NBA Draft only two years ago, and while the Buckeyes might not be as successful in recent years as they once were, they still get plenty of national exposure with regards to producing NBA talent.

The NCAA tournament comments might carry some more weight though. The Buckeyes have missed the NCAA tournament in two consecutive seasons and things are also looking difficult for them to reach the Big Dance for next season. If Bazley wants to play in the NCAA tournament, then I could understand him wanting to open things up and explore more options.

Still, you don’t often see a player make comments like this about a school after decommitting–especially a program with as much national exposure as Ohio State. Bazley is likely going to face some heat for his remarks, but if those are his true feelings about a future life decision, then he should explore what else is out there.

Nevada gets transfer commitment from Omaha forward Tre’Shawn Thurman

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Nevada continues to build its roster through transfers as the Wolf Pack added Omaha forward Tre’Shawn Thurman on Thursday.

The 6-foot-7 Thurman will have to sit out one season before playing his senior season but he is coming off of a very good campaign for the Mavericks. The versatile forward put up 13.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game while shooting 49 percent from the field.

One of the Summit League’s better players the last two seasons, Thurman should be a solid rotation forward for Nevada as he has a chance to be a breakout player with one more year of development. If Thurman can improve his 25 percent three-point shooting then he could be a major factor for Nevada.

D-League salaries, two-way contracts increase NBA Draft early entries

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Yesterday, I wrote a piece about how it’s dumb to criticize players for entering the NBA Draft without costing themselves their collegiate eligibility when the NCAA’s new NBA Draft rules are specifically designed for said players to be able to do that.

In that column, I mentioned that D-League salaries are on the rise and that the NBA’s new CBA instituted something called “two-way contracts,” and I wanted a chance to elaborate and clarify a couple of the points that I made.

Let’s start with the “two-way contracts,” which NBA teams each get two of. They are essentially a retainer that those teams can place on younger players they want to be the 16th and 17th men on their roster, holding their rights as they bounce between the D-League — where they will likely spend the majority of the year — and the NBA. The catch is that those players have to have less than three years service as a professional, and the point of it is to provide a financial incentive for younger players with the potential to reach the NBA to remain stateside while allowing those NBA teams to develop them.

That financial incentive is fairly large, as well: Two-way players will make $75,000 guaranteed and will be able to make up to $275,000, depending on the amount of time they spend with the NBA team.

That means there are an extra 60 jobs this season that can end up paying players with less than three years of professional basketball experience upwards of a quarter-of-a-million dollars.

That’s not a bad starting salary.

The other point that I wanted to address is the rising D-League salaries which, technically, will not be rising. There are still going to be Tier A and Tier B players, who make $26,000 and $20,000 respectively. But the NBA has something called affiliate players, which each of the now-25 NBA teams with a D-League affiliate can pay up to $50,000 for training camp. NBA teams are allowed a maximum of four affiliate players, who will still make their $26,000 salary from their D-League team.

In other words, that’s 100 more jobs available in the United States where a professional basketball player can make $76,000, and that’s before you consider that the five NBA teams that do not yet have a D-League affiliate will still have to play players to get them into training camp.

That $76,000 is not a life-changing amount of money. Neither is the $275,000 that a two-way contract can pay. But it’s a pretty damn good paycheck to make for an entry-level job into the industry that you always dreamed of being in.

Athletes have an unbelievably small window where they can capitalize monetarily on their gifts.

If a 21-year old sophomore decides that he wants to continue to develop his game and chase his NBA dream by making $76,000 as a D-League player, is that really all that crazy?

After all, 135 of the 450 players, or 30 percent of the roster spots, on NBA’s opening night were taken by guys that had spent time in the D-League.

There’s more than one way to make a dream come true.