Top 5 Dunkers in the Country
Words. Jason Jordan
It’s always tough to name the top players specific to a skill. Truth is, these days athleticism is as common as the ability to knock down three-pointers, and dunking is almost a prerequisite to getting playing time.
Still, there are a few players that stand out because of their exceptional leaping and finishing ability. Throw in creativity, flair, and simply having a sense of “the moment,” and it’s just like judging a dunk contest.
Here’s a look at the top five dunkers in the country, and since it’s seemingly the new fad not to know your vertical, perhaps to heighten the mystery, we’ve taken the liberty of projecting their vertical leaping ability:
5. LeBRYAN NASH, Lincoln (Dallas), 2011
You almost get the feeling that Nash is upset about something when he throws down monster jams — as if he’s trying to tear the rim off. The 6-6 forward attacks the rim with reckless abandon and is “that guy” who does the awkward mean-mug after he puts the opposition on a poster.
Projected Vertical: 38 inches
4. JAHII CARSON, Mesa (AZ), 2011
I was tempted to throw Carson in the top three. Why? It’s generous to list Carson at 5-10, yet he can do nearly every dunk that’s been done. Perhaps even more impressive is that on his dunks, Carson is noticeably higher than the rim, making it easier for him to be creative.
Projected vertical: 46 inches
3. NICK JOHNSON, Findlay Prep (NV), 2011
Watching Johnson throw down dunks, you’d almost swear he was a part of a flying trapeze act. He’s got the ability to hang in the air for long periods of time and that makes defenders think twice about braving the chance to jump and attempt blocking his dunk. Johnson jokingly nicknamed himself “Air-Zona” because of his jumping ability and his college commitment to the Wildcats.
Projected vertical: 45 inches
2. BISHOP DANIELS, Word of God (NC), 2011
Daniels has the type of hops that would make you swear he was playing a Slam Ball game, trampoline and all. I once saw Daniels win a dunk contest by sailing clear over the head of Hargrave Military Academy’s 6-5 guard P.J. Hairston, who didn’t duck even slightly. Daniels was over Hairston by at least four inches.
Projected vertical: 49 inches
1. DEUCE BELLO, Westchester (NC), 2011
It’s hard to top a man who’s done a between-the-legs dunk … in an actual game! Bello’s hops are on a different level of unreal, which makes sense when you realize he’s only 6-3 yet can play small forward because his vertical makes him play taller. And whether it looks like there’s a lane to the rim or not, teams are always on poster watch when Bello’s prowling the hardwood. He recently won the dunk contest at the Boost Mobile Elite 24 with a between-the-legs dunk off the backboard.
Projected Vertical: 50 inches
The Scoop — Buzz has been growing about Bello and Daniels answering the question of who’s the best dunker in the country. So much so that they had decided to settle it once and for all next weekend at the Elite 80 Showcase in Greensboro, N.C. Unfortunately, Daniels had a freak accident in workouts last week and broke his foot. The debate rages on, but for now, Bello is first in flight.