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.

Bluiett back to Xavier for senior season

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Xavier lost one significant piece to the professional ranks this spring, but will return another.

Trevon Bluiett, the team’s leading scorer last year, announced via social media that he will be back to play his senior season with the Musketeers.

Chris Mack will return the bulk of a roster that struggled February only to make a run to the Elite Eight, but getting Bluiett for a final season makes the Musketeers especially dangerous. The 6-foot-6 Bluiett scored a team-high 18.5 points per game last year while also putting up 5.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists per night. He shot 37.1 percent from 3-point range, the second-best mark on the team. His return, even with point guard Edmond Sumner going pro amid his ACL tear recovery, makes Xavier one of the top teams in the Big East heading into the 2017-18 season.

Bluiett himself is enough to keep Xavier relevant in the league, but when he’s coupled with the likes of returners JP Macura, Sean O’Mara and Quentin Goodwin, plus a recruiting class featuring two four-star prospects, it’s not difficult to see a path for Mack’s group to a place where they can compete with the likes of Villanova and Seton Hall atop the league.

Welsh and Holiday returning to UCLA

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UCLA sustained some major, though expected, attrition from its roster this spring. On Tuesday, the Bruins announced a pair of significant contributors that will be back.

Thomas Welsh and Aaron Holiday will both return next season to the UCLA program, according to the school.

Welsh, a 7-foot center, averaged 10.8 points and 8.7 rebounds as a senior last year for the Bruins. He shot 58.5 percent from the floor and blocked 1.2 shots per game, and decided to declare for the NBA Draft without an agent before ultimately deciding to return to Westwood.

“Thomas has worked hard all spring,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said in a statement. “We supported him testing the NBA waters and are excited to have him returning for his senior year. He simply continues to develop each and every season.

“Thomas will be one of the top centers in college basketball next year and, undoubtedly, has a great chance to be a first-round pick in next season’s draft.”

The 6-foot-1 Holiday averaged 12.3 points and 4.4 assists last season while sharing a backcourt with Lonzo Ball, whose departure, along with those of TJ Leaf, Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton will leave UCLA with a very different look next season. The positive results, however, may not fluctuate too significantly with Welsh and Holiday coming back to play alongside two five-star recruits, Kris Wilkes and Jaylen Hands, as well as Lonzo’s younger brother LiAngelo.

West Virginia’s Macon forgoing final year

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West Virginia’s attempt to dethrone Kansas atop the Big 12 took a bit of a hit Tuesday.

Elijah Macon, a 6-foot-9 forward, announced his decision to forego a fifth year in Morgantown in order to pursue a professional career.

“First things first I would like to say thank you Bob Huggins and Erik Martin for believing in a young 15-year-old boy growing up from the Southside of Columbus, OH losing my mother and still having you guys push me to be the man I have become,” Macon said according to the school. “I can do nothing but thank you for all you and Mountaineer Nation (have) done for me. Unfortunately, I will not be returning for my senior season at WVU and instead sign with a(n) agent and play professional basketball. Thank you guys for all the love and support!”

Macon wasn’t a major contributor for the Mountaineers last season, averaging 6.3 points and 4.2 rebounds in 16 minutes per game, but he was an experienced and tough player who was well-versed in Huggins’ style and demands. Given the pace that the newly-fashioned Press Virginia plays at, depth is also paramount for them as a program.

Macon’s departure, though, may have been expected or at least partly anticipated by West Virginia. The Mountaineers signed five players in its most recent recruiting class, putting them one over their allotment of 13, so something had to give. West VIrginia will stay have interior depth, anchored by junior Esa Ahmad, so the loss of Macon is one they likely can weather, even if it may take some time to acclimate the newcomers.

“Elijah is in the process of completing classes during this summer school period that ends June 2 and will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in August,” Huggins said in a statement released by the school. “I respect his decision to become a professional basketball player and to go make money to support his family. He had a great four years with us, and we wish him nothing but the best.”

Key returning to Alabama for sophomore season

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Alabama’s top scorer is returning to school.

Braxton Key has withdrawn his name from the NBA draft and will be back with the Tide for his sophomore season, the school announced Tuesday.

“I spoke to coach Avery (Johnson) just over a week ago and informed him of my decision to withdraw my name from the NBA Draft and return to the University of Alabama for my sophomore season,” Key said in a statement. “I made that official when I sent my paperwork to the NBA league office Monday morning. I want to express my appreciation to my teammates, Coach Johnson and the entire coaching staff for giving me their full support while I went through this process.

“I am excited for the future of the Alabama basketball program and looking forward to getting to work as we prepare for next season. Roll Tide and Buckle Up!”

The 6-foot-8 forward averaged 12 points and 5.7 rebounds per game while shooting 43.3 percent from the field as a freshman. He gives Alabama four returning starts to pair with one of the country’s highest-regarded recruiting classes, headlined by five-star guard Collin Sexton. The Tide will also have an eligible Daniel Giddens, who previously transferred in from Ohio State.

Key didn’t seem likely to stay in the NBA draft, especially after he wasn’t invited to the combine, but his ultimate decision is a huge one for Avery Johnson as he looks to break through in his third season in Tuscaloosa with his first NCAA tournament appearance. 

Report: Justin Jackson to return to Maryland

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Maryland forward Justin Jackson is expected to return to school for his sophomore season, according to a report from FanRag Sports.

Jackson is an intriguing talent, a 6-foot-7 combo-forward with a 7-foot-3 wingspan that shoots 44 percent from three. But he’s also still developing his offensive game and consistency on the defensive end of the floor, which is why he was projected as a second round pick in this year’s draft.

With Jackson back in the fold, Maryland is a borderline top 25 team. They lost Melo Trimble to the professional ranks, but that’s something that Mark Turgeon has prepared for. With a sophomore class that also includes highly-regarded point guard Anthony Cowan and sharp-shooter Kevin Huerter, the Terps have a promising season ahead of them.