David Kyles watched five competitors dunk before him and decided he couldn’t play it safe in the State Farm Slam Dunk Championship on Thursday night.
“I saw what they did,” he said. “It was pretty athletic, so I figured I would go for something pretty athletic to start off. I didn’t plan anything, really.”
The no-plan plan came up a few inches short. Kyles missed three attempts in the first round and failed to advance in the eight-man competition. James Justice, a 5-foot-10 guard from NAIA Martin Methodist in Pulaski, Tenn., won the contest, defeating Auburn’s Kenny Gabriel in the final at Tulane’s Fogelman Arena.
“It was definitely fun,” Kyles said. “I got to see James do his thing. I didn’t expect him to be that little and jump that high. That is sick.”
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Kyles twice tried to bounce the ball high to himself, grab it with one hand and swoop under the rim for a reverse dunk. He said it is a dunk he can finish.
“The ball kept slipping out of my hand,” he said. “Normally I get it. I haven’t practiced that dunk in awhile.”
Dunkers got 30 seconds to complete a dunk. After two misses, Kyles tried to simplify by tossing off the ball off the backboard. Rushing to beat the clock, his pass went astray.
Justice, voted into the contest with Facebook balloting, ended the contest by bouncing the ball to himself, taking it between his legs in the air and throwing down a one-handed jam. The dunk convinced most in the crowd of around 3,000, and they showed their appreciation by showering the court with white mini-balls handed out during the evening. Clemson’s Bryan Narcisse and Miami’s DeQuan Jones lost out in the semifinals.
In the men’s three-point shooting contest, Northwestern’s John Shurna defeated Temple’s Juan Fernandez 21-20 in the final. He made his final shot, worth two points, with a red-white-and-blue ball to win. Purdue’s Ryne Smith and Missououri’s Marcus Denmon lost in the semifinals.
In the women’s shooting contest, Ashley Corral of Southern Cal defeated Louisville’s Becky Burke 20-11.
Shurna scored 24 points to defeat Corral, who had 14, in the final shooting contest.