By now, the college basketball world has seen Jamaal Franklin all but claim ‘Dunk of the Year’ crown nine days into the New Year, when he threw an alley oop to himself off the backboard.
The San Diego State junior threw the ball to himself on a 3-on-3 break in the second half of the Aztecs 65-62 win over Fresno State on Wednesday (reaction to the dunk).
Franklin completely overshadowed Brandon Paul’s posterization of Minnesota’s Trevor Mbakwe in Illinois’s win over the Gophers on the same night. The day before, Ohio State’s Sam Thompson dunked over a 7-footer, but that instantly became a distance memory.
Franklin even took down Victor Dukes, the Arkansas sophomore without a recruiting page on Rivals or ESPN, but has almost two million views on YouTube.
However, for some of Franklin’s Aztec teammates, it wasn’t that impressive.
“I’ve actually seen him do it better,” DeShawn Stephens told Mark Zeigler of the San Diego Union-Tribune on Thursday. “I’ve seen him catch it and dunk one-handed – crazy.”
Franklin went on to tell Zeigler how exactly he was able to pull of the current titleholder of the year’s best dunk:
“Just playing around,” he said. “I gradually figured out that it works because when you throw the ball, people think you’re throwing an alley oop to someone else. The natural reaction as a defender is to turn your head. But by the time you turn your head, the ball is already hitting off the backboard and I’m already in the air.
“The hardest part is getting the ball to the backboard, because you’re throwing the ball going so fast that you could throw it too hard. The dunk is the easy part.”
Franklin is averaging a double-double this year, 17.4 points and 10.5 rebounds per game leading the No. 16 Aztecs in both those categories. San Diego State has a tough Mountain West Conference game Saturday night against Colorado State. The Rams enter with an identical 13-2 record.
The game tips at 8 p.m. on the NBC Sports Network.
Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne
National Semifinals– Saturday, April 1
6:09 p.m. EST, CBS, Glendale
No. 7 South Carolina vs. No. 1 Gonzaga (Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery, Tracy Wolfson)
Approximately 40 minutes after conclusion of first game, CBS, Glendale
No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 3 Oregon (Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery, Tracy Wolfson)
North Carolina and Kentucky ended in legendary fashion on Sunday.
After freshman Malik Monk buried a heavily-contested three-pointer to tie the game at 73-all for Kentucky with under 10 seconds left the Tar Heels didn’t use a timeout as Theo Pinson found forward Luke Maye for the game-winning jumper.
These 10 seconds will go down as one of the greatest finishes in NCAA Tournament history.
North Carolina advanced to the Final Four for the second consecutive season and 20th time overall as the No. 1 seed Tar Heels outlasted No. 2 seed Kentucky, 75-73, during Sunday’s South Regional final in Memphis.
Reserve forward Luke Maye knocked in the game-winning jumper for the Tar Heels with 0.3 seconds left to break a 73-all tie after Kentucky’s Malik Monk tied the game with a three-pointer on the previous possession.
The Tar Heels (31-7) overcame an ankle issue from junior point guard Joel Berry as North Carolina was led by Justin Jackson’s 19 points.
Maye also stepped up with a big game for North Carolina as he continued his strong March with 17 points. Berry added 11 points, as he went to the locker room during the first half to get his ankle looked at before returning to play later in the half.
Kentucky (32-6) won the regular-season matchup of these teams, 103-100, in Las Vegas in December as their freshmen guards struggled to perform on Sunday. After De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk combined for 71 points in that previous win over the Tar Heels, the two freshmen studs couldn’t get going.
Both of them dealt with first-half foul trouble as Fox finished with 13 points while Monk was held to 12 points. Also battling foul trouble in the first half, freshman Bam Adebayo added 13 points for the Wildcats.
With Fox and Monk struggling to generate consistent offense, the Wildcats were able to stay in the game thanks to great performances from reserves like Isaac Humphries (career-high 12 points) and senior Dominique Hawkins (10 points.
North Carolina advances to face No. 3 seed Oregon in next weekend’s Final Four.
South Carolina earned its first trip to the Final Four with its win over SEC-rival Florida on Sunday.
The Gamecocks made sure to celebrate properly when head coach Frank Martin hit the locker room after the game by dousing him in water before Martin gave another speech.
Darius Rucker, the former front man of Hootie and the Blowfish and a current star in the country music world, is a lifelong South Carolina Gamecocks fan.
This isn’t really a secret.
Hell, on Friday night at a concert he was playing, Rucker set up TVs so that he would be able to watch South Carolina take on Baylor:
You probably didn’t realize just how big of a fan he actually is until you saw him, sitting second row at the regional final in New York City on Sunday afternoon, tearing up as the Gamecocks advanced to the Final Four:
Let ’em cry, Darius, if the tears fall down like rain.