The top 10 dunks of the college basketball season

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A hearty welcome to those of you just now joining the rest of us in following college basketball now that football season has ended. We’ll be running a series of posts to get all you football fans caught up on the season at-large. To read through them all, click here.

In case you’ve missed it, major media believes this is a down year in college hoops. There is no 2012 Kentucky Wildcats or 1976 Indiana Hoosiers. The NBA one-and-done rule is draining college hoops of all the major superstars.

Well guess what?

You don’t have to be Kevin Durant or LeBron James to throw down a highlight reel dunk.

The 2012-2013 college basketball season has been an exciting one, with comebacks, buzzer-beaters, and of course, huge dunks. The sport doesn’t need Carmelo Anthony or Anthony Davis in order to provide excitement, and the following videos are proof as to why.

Honorable Mention:
DJ Stephens – Memphis vs. VCU, 11/22/12
Archie Goodwin – Kentucky vs. Portland, 12/8/12
Elijah Pittman – Marshall vs. Cincinnati, 12/15/12
Victor Rudd Jr. – South Florida vs. Syracuse, 1/6/13 (Go to 1:17 mark)
Sam Thompson – Ohio State vs. Michigan, 1/13/13
Jared Berggren – Wisconsin vs. Indiana, 1/15/13
Nerlens Noel – Kentucky vs. Auburn, 1/19/13
John Daniels – Columbia vs. Cornell, 1/26/13
Alex Len – Maryland vs. Duke, 1/26/13
Akil Mitchell – Virginia vs. North Carolina State, 1/29/03
Adrien Payne – Michigan State vs. Illinois, 1/31/13
Victor Oladipo – Indiana vs. Michigan, 2/2/13
Kevin Young – Kansas vs. Oklahoma State, 2/2/13

Justin Glover – Winston Salem State vs. Elizabeth City State (D-II)

For all intents and purposes, this dunk should be in the top-5. Heck, it’s probably the best dunk of the season. But it took place in a D-II game, so it can’t crack the top-10. But HOLY MOLY, this is the craziest dunk of the year. And that’s saying something considering what our No. 1 dunk is.

Top-10 dunks of the college basketball season:

10. Chris Denson – Auburn vs. Tennessee Tech, 12/18/12

The SEC is not a good college basketball conference this season. True, Florida is dismantling teams left and right, but Missouri, Kentucky and Ole Miss are next in line and none of them ave inspired much confidence in the general public.

So if Ole Miss is 6-2 in conference play, and they aren’t as good as their record indicates, what does that say about Auburn, who sits at 8-13 overall and 2-6 in the SEC? The Tigers are not good, that’s what it says. But you wouldn’t think that based on this superb one-handed poster-dunk by 6-foot-2 guard Chris Denson.

9. Rodney Purvis – North Carolina State vs. Miami, 2/2/13

NC-State is one of the most puzzling teams in the country. They put together a 10-game winning streak which included a win over then-No.1 Duke. But since then, the Wolfpack have lost four of six, including losses to Virginia and Wake Forest.

Oh then there was also the recent issue of freshman Rodney Purvis re-tweeting a negative comment one of his former-teammates made about head coach Mark Gottfried. I think this sensational put-back dunk he had against Miami might be enough to get him out of the dog house.

8. Troy Huff – North Dakota vs. Idaho State, 2/2/13

There isn’t much you need to know about North Dakota or Idaho State. There are only two things you need to know about Troy Huff. First, he’s the team’s leading scorer, averaging 18.1ppg. Second, the kid can fly.

This dunk cracks the top-10 because of Huff’s in-flight transition from a two-handed slam to a one-handed jam. The mid-air transition is such an underrated part of the dunk game. Huff makes it look easy.

Thank God there wasn’t a defender in Huff’s way. Things would have gotten ugly. This was one of the strongest dunks I’ve seen in a long time.

7. Doug Anderson – Detroit vs. St. John’s, 11/13/12

Doug Anderson is the best dunker in the country. Plain and simple. There is not a player in the country who dunks with as much vertical height, velocity and frequency as the Detroit freak-show. On any given night, he’s good for a handful of highlight reel plays. Scouting for Doug Anderson is not all that complicated. Simply box him out on every shot or he will make you pay.

6. Mason Plumlee – Duke vs. Maryland, 1/26/13

Mason Plumlee is on the short-list of National Player of the Year candidates and this incredibly difficult reverse putback dunk is just one of the many reasons why. Plumlee has improved in all facets of the game. There aren’t many big-man as athletic or as agile as Plumlee, and this dunk shows why. The degree of difficulty of this dunk is off-the-charts, and Plumlee almost makes it look easy. But trust me, this dunk was not easy at all.

5. Brandon Paul – Illinois vs. Minnesota, 1/9/13

When Illinois played Minnesota during the second week of conference play, both teams were ranked and were thought to be legitimate contenders in the Big-Ten. While a lot has changed since then, the Illini have lost five of six, nothing changes the fact that Brandon Paul’s poster-jam over Trevor Mbakwe is one of the most violent dunks of the season. When you look up the definition of #POSTERIZED in the dictionary, a .GIF of this dunk shows up next to the word.

4. Victor Oladipo – Indiana vs. Central Connecticut State, 12/8/12

Three months into the season and it’s Victor Oladipo, not Cody Zeller, who is the Hooiser’s best player and likely candidate for Player of the Year. The junior is one of the most athletic players in the country, has improved his jumper, and is one of the best lockdown defenders in the country. Did I mention he was athletic? Central Connecticut State had to find out the hard way.

3. Deonte Burton – Nevada vs. UNLV, 1/30/13

Watch the video. Now watch it again. And again. I’m still in shock.

Burton is one of the most electrifying players that nobody knows about. He’s only 6-foot-1 yet can explode like somebody 6-foot-7 and has hit clutch shot after clutch shot. But look at this dunk. Look at how he get’s his arm cocked back for full extension. Remember, Burton is just 6-FOOT-1! This is an incredible dunk.

2. Marcus Lewis – Eastern Kentucky vs. Southeast Missouri, 2/2/13

Remember how I just said that Deonte Burton’s out-of-bounds ally-oop was incredible? Well it was. But Marcus Lewis’ out-of-bounds ally-oop was incredible on steroids.

First he burns the poor defender who gets caught peeking at the in-bounds pass. Then he jumps up, uses a defenders face as a springboard and dunks all over the entire team. Like I said: incredible on steroids.

1. Jamaal Franklin – San Diego State vs. Fresno State, 1/10/13

This is why the kids call him “Circus Time”.

Only Jamaal Franklin would toss himself a 25-foot self-ally-oop off the backboard in while splitting a double team. Who does something like that? Jamaal Franklin. That’s who.

This is…I just…The thing about it is…A month later, and I’m still speechless.

Just shut it down already. Game over.

I can’t even begin to imagine what has to take place in order for this dunk to not still be No. 1 at season’s end.

Five-star forward King picks Oregon

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Oregon has nabbed one of the top players in the 2018 class.

Louis King, a top-20 forward, committed to Dana Altman and the Ducks on Thursday via a video on social media.

“It’s been a tough, strenuous process,” King said, “but today makes all of that worth it. I’ve been blessed with great opportunities.”

The 6-foot-8 New Jersey native selected Oregon over other finalists Seton Hall, NC State, Purdue and Kansas.

“I would like to thank each of them for all the time and effort they put into my recruitment,” King said. “I would like to thank my coaches and my teammates that have pushed me and helped get me to this point in my career. My friends for all their love and support, but most of all I would like to thank my family, who has been by my side through it all.”

King is Altman’s second commit in 2018, joining four-star big man Miles Norris, a top-75 recruit in the class. It’s the beginning of what could be an absolutely dynamic class for Oregon, which still has two scholarships remaining.

“Out of all of my schools I felt like it was best for me and my family,” King said to MADE Hoops. “Coach Altman said that I would have the ball in my hands throughout the season. When I get there, it will be an easy adjustment for me with how I handle rock and get my teammates open. Our goal is to win a national championship next year.”

 

Four-star forward Miller Kopp commits to Northwestern

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Northwestern has a second four-star recruit in its 2018 class.

The Wildcats received a commitment from Miller Kopp, a 6-foot-6 forward, on Thursday, he announced via social media.

“I built a really strong relationship with (coach) Chris Collins and I fell in love with the campus,” Kopp told Scout. “I knew it would be a nice campus and have that stuff, but I think me and him are wired the same way. II think that his personality fits mine and I think we complement each other. I’m definitely excited to be able to go to a program on the rise and be able to make some history.”

Kopp picked the Wildcats over offers from Georgetown, Butler, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt. The Houston native is ranked in the top-100 of his class by most recruiting services.

He gives Collins and the Wildcats an exceedingly strong 2018 class, which already featured four-star guard Pete Nance of Ohio along with three-star recruits Jordan Lathon and Ryan Young. It represents a major leap forward for Northwestern. It would appear that the program’s first-ever NCAA tournament appearance last March has brought momentum to the recruiting trail.

 

NEXT ONE? Hoops phenom at 13 has college offer, NBA height

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Emoni Bates walks out a front door of Clague Middle School with just inches to spare.

A wide smile tops his 6-foot-7, extra-lean frame. He’s holding a seventh-grade honor society certificate in his right hand. His braces gleam in the afternoon sun.

Meet the best 13-year-old basketball player in America, according to some recruiting services. One of his highlight reels on YouTube has been viewed about 1 million times.

“I don’t really pay attention to it,” Emoni insists in a voice just louder than a whisper, “because if I pay attention to it, it’s just going to get to my head.

“And I don’t want it to get to my head. I just want to play basketball.”

He’s got the pedigree.

Emoni’s father, E.J. Bates, has been around the game most of his life. He picked greens and baled hay as a kid in nearby Milan, Michigan, then developed into a smooth-shooting guard. But he didn’t take school seriously until it was too late. Instead of playing for a basketball power like Kansas and maybe even in the NBA, E.J. wound up going to Kentucky Wesleyan and settling for pro hoops in Switzerland.

E.J. is determined to make sure his son doesn’t make the same mistake. The academics are a sign of that. House rules bar Emoni from picking up a basketball until his homework is done.

Yet E.J. knows when kids are this good this early, distractions roll in like waves. Already, it seems, lots of people want a piece of Emoni. Prep, private and public high school coaches are lining up. Colleges have him on their radar. DePaul took it a step further, offering Emoni a scholarship in late August. Two other much-touted players in the Class of 2022 — Amari Bailey of Illinois and Skyy Clark of California — also have offers from DePaul.

E.J. knows the shoe company bird dogs and other hustlers looking to buy favors are lurking, too. So he and wife Edith, who works for the Red Cross, keep their inner circle very tight.

“I’m his coach to keep the snakes away,” Bates says, sitting on one of Clague’s concrete benches. “We’re not for sale.”

The Bates family has agreed to provide The Associated Press with a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the life of one of the most coveted basketball prospects in the country for at least the next five years. The periodic series will include video, photos, audio and text updates to track his progress.

Will Emoni stay near his current home to attend a public high school? Or will he take his next step at a private school like Detroit Country Day, like Michigan native Chris Webber?

Will he follow the footsteps of Marvin Bagley III and other five-star prospects, reclassifying to finish high school in three years? Bagley did to play college ball at Duke this coming season — and potentially to get a jump on a pro future.

Will E.J. and Emoni emulate the father-son team of LaVar and Lonzo Ball, grabbing headlines while hawking their own brand at every turn?

No one knows.

E.J. says all options are on the table. But he won’t be loud, unlike LaVar Ball in the lead-up to his son Lonzo being drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers.

“I don’t have to brag about what we’re doing,” E.J. says. “I let other people do all the talking about how good Emoni is because word of mouth is the best advertising there is.”

A POTENTIAL STAR IS BORN

Emoni James-Wayne Bates was born Jan. 28, 2004, at the University of Michigan hospital. He was on the light side — 6 pounds, 7 ounces — and a little long at 21 inches. Just over a year later, Emoni slept with his head cradled in his left arm and his right wrapped around a black and red basketball. A cherished photo was made.

“He would always sleep with the ball,” his father recalls, holding a framed picture in his Ypsilanti, Michigan, home. “If the ball wasn’t around, he would cry about the ball. Even to this day, he has a mini-ball he keeps with him, which is crazy to me.”

There were more hints. During a second visit to the doctor, E.J., who is 6-foot-4, and Edith, 5-9, asked how tall their son might grow.

“He was off the charts,” E.J. laughs, “so they couldn’t tell us.”

Emoni has shot up 7 inches in the last two years. He’s tall enough right now to play shooting guard at any level. He handles the ball like a point guard and launches 3-pointers like a savvy veteran. He can create his own shot like a wing or drive the lane and dish off to a teammate like another rail-thin former prodigy, Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant.

But adding weight and muscle is an ongoing challenge. He weighs just 155 pounds — not heavy or strong enough to play a dominating inside game that would complement his fluid perimeter skills.

“We try to stuff him full of food at night and hope it sticks,” E.J. sighs.

TEEN CELEBRITY

The Adidas Invitational in Fishers, Indiana, attracts some of the Midwest’s top seventh-grade AAU teams. Inside Best Choice Fieldhouse, talk centers on whether the Bates Fundamentals squad starring Emoni and coached by E.J. can live up to the hype.

“They’ve been hearing a lot about him,” says Bernetta Kelly, watching her son’s Peoria Area Elite team take its shot.

Bates Fundamentals wins 95-44 and Kelly understands why. She approaches Emoni and asks for a photo with her son and his team.

“I’ve seen the best players from Pittsburgh to Vegas the last four years, and he’s been the best in his class,” Peoria coach Zach Martin says. “I told the guys, ‘There are not many times you will be able to say you played an NBA player, but you just did.'”

After another lopsided victory in the two-day tournament won easily by Bates Fundamentals, Emoni walks off the court. A younger competitor darts out of his team’s pregame layup line to slap his hand. Moments later, the excitement follows Emoni out the door.

“Hey, that’s him,” a young boy entering the facility says to teammates.

How does a 10-year-old from Fort Wayne, Indiana, know who Bates is?

“YouTube,” he says.

Duh.

The highlight reel posted last summer had nearly 1 million views before Emoni walked into the doors at Clague for the first time as an eighth-grader. Several other videos have racked up 500,000-plus views in less than one year.

By the spring of 2018, the suspense about where he plans to attend high school may be its own mini-drama. Then a few years later: Which college?

E.J. and Edith hardly need reminding that’s still a long way off. As good as the recruiting services have become at projecting stars, it’s easy to forget the object of all that attention is still just 13. At times, the recruiting experts simply miss.

“It’s always a crap shoot,” E.J. says. “You don’t know what life will deal you. You never know what can happen with injuries, the loss of motivation or pressure getting to be too much.”

Yet fans of two college basketball powers with the inside track can already start thinking about the fall of 2021, when Bates can officially sign a scholarship offer. In quiet moments, Emoni sometimes does, too.

Asked about his favorite programs, the soft-spoken kid doesn’t hesitate to name the early front-runners.

“Michigan State and Kentucky,” Emoni says.

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Follow the series: https://www.apnews.com/tag/TheKid

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Follow Larry Lage at http://twitter.com/larrylage

NCAA punishes Pacific men’s basketball for violations

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STOCKTON, Calif. (AP) — The men’s basketball team at Pacific has been punished by the NCAA for academic and recruiting violations under former coach Ron Verlin.

The NCAA said Wednesday that Verlin failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance when he violated academic misconduct and recruiting rules to get prospects eligible. He also failed to monitor his coaches and violated NCAA ethics rules when he encouraged others to give false information during the investigation.

The baseball program was also cited because former coach Ed Sprague impermissibly provided an athletic training student with a $16,000 scholarship to help with the housing costs of two baseball student-athletes, including her brother.

Penalties for the school include two years of probation, recruiting and scholarship reductions, a $5,000 fine and a vacation of all games in which ineligible athletes participated.

Memphis lands commitment from 2018 center Connor Vanover

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Memphis picked up its first commitment in the Class of 2018 on Wednesday night as unique center prospect Connor Vanover announced his decision on Twitter.

At 7-foot-2, Vanover brings elite size to the interior for the Tigers and he’s also skilled enough that he was a 43 percent three-point shooter during his stint playing with Pro Skills in the Nike EYBL this spring. Although Vanover needs to add strength and athleticism to adapt to the college level, he simply has size that you can’t teach. Pair that size with an intriguing perimeter jumper and it’ll be interesting to see how head coach Tubby Smith is able to develop Vanover the next few years.

A three-star prospect according to Rivals, Vanover averaged 9.1 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game during the spring. Originally from Arkansas, Vanover is spending his senior season of high school ball at prep school powerhouse Findlay Prep.