Tuesday’s Michigan State-Illinois game was far from a thing of beauty. In the final minutes of the first half, in fact, ESPN play-by-play guy Mike Tirico begged, “This half NEEDS to end!” As inept as the offenses were in the 42-41 decision at Assembly Hall, there were a couple highlights: Meyers Leonard’s alley-oop and Brandon Paul’s poke.
LeBron James’ ridiculous dunk against Chicago on Sunday and Blake Griffin’s silly slam against Oklahoma City on Monday got us thinking about the best dunks of the 2011-12 Big Ten season. Rodney Williams, Victor Oladipo and Sam Thompson’s highlights immediately come to mind, but there have been so many other memorable dunks. See my top 10 slams in this post. Did I forget a dunk? If so, click “other” on the poll or enter your selection in the comment box at the bottom of this post. Also, check out a collection of our dunk-centric highlights with our Did You See This? archive.
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Most teams go an entire season, if not longer, without even attempting an alley-oop on an inbound pass. Then again, most teams don’t have an athlete quite like Ohio State’s Sam Thompson. Only a freshman, Thompson was on the receiving end of his second such play in Big Ten action alone Wednesday night. Which inbound alley-oop was better, though: Tonight’s or the one at Indiana on New Year’s Eve? Watch both incredible plays and vote on the best one in this post.
Minnesota’s Rodney Williams loves to show off his athleticism, and for good reason. The junior can jump out of the gym and is blessed with some of the best God-given abilities in the Big Ten. During Sunday afternoon’s game against Northwestern at The Barn, Williams displayed those skills on a few occasions, including a quick, powerful slam and an acrobatic and-one. Watch the latter now and the former in this post.
Michigan State was in command for most of the game against Purdue on Saturday, but late in the second half Branden Dawson threw down an impressive dunk, one of several in the game for the 6-foot-6 Spartans freshman forward. Dawson had a quality shooting game, nailing 6-of-7 shots from the field and scoring 14 points.
Minnesota’s Joe Coleman goes hard to the rim with a two-handed dunk against Penn State on Sunday, but he wasn’t the only Gopher slamming it home. Rodney Williams, who earlier this season pulled off a 360-degree dunk, added a two-handed dunk of his own against the Nittany Lions. Click down in this post to see it and see all of our “Did You See This?” videos in our archive.
Give Rodney Williams an inch anywhere near the rim, and he’ll make you look silly. The Minnesota junior has springs in his shoes, something Iowa witnessed in the second half of Wednesday night’s game at Williams Arena. On this particular play, Williams turned a Julian Welch missed 3-pointer into a gem of a highlight. The Hawkeyes forgot to account for Williams on the glass, somehow, and he made them pay with a powerful putback of the errant shot. And Williams hung on the rim for style — and to avoid landing on Zach McCabe, we suppose. Watch the play now.
It’s no secret that Illinois’ Meyers Leonard is blessed with a lot of athleticism. The 7-foot-1 big man moves and leaps unlike most guys his size, and he displayed it once again Wednesday at Northwestern. Late in the first half – a frustrating one for Leonard and the Illini – the breakout sophomore jumped out of the gym on a one-handed slam. Look at how high he got up there. And listen to that rim rattle! As BTN color commentator Shon Morris put it: “I think that rim is going to file assault charges.” Watch the dunk now and see his game-sealing block in this post.
Usually, it’s Sam Thompson on the receiving end of a fantastic alley-oop. In the closing moments of Tuesday’s game against Nebraska, the exciting Ohio State freshman was on the other end of the highlight-reel play, setting up J.D. Weatherspoon for a ferocious slam. Weatherspoon can get up himself. Watch the pretty alley-oop now from Ohio State’s easy 71-40 win over Nebraska at Value City Arena.
There’s a reason Thad Matta says Sam Thompson may be the best athlete he’s ever coached. The freshman has unreal athleticism, and he showcased it in Saturday night’s contest at Indiana. On an inbound play, Thompson broke for the hoop, seemingly jumped out of the gym and completed the alley-oop with a vicious throwdown. You may not see a better dunk all season. Seriously. Check out the ridiculous slam now. Those replays are beautiful, aren’t they?
Indiana’s Victor Oladipo has made himself a regular on our latest feature, “Did You See This?” Well, the Indiana sophomore was at again in Indiana’s upset of No. 2 Ohio State on Saturday night (AP recap), tallying back-to-back steals that led to a pair of easy baskets, including a powerful dunk of his own on the second poach. Watch the terrific 20 seconds of game action from the Indiana sophomore right here. Think he enjoyed hanging on the rim there? We sure think so.
Night in and night out, Indiana’s Cody Zeller continues to dazzle and show why he was so highly recruited. The talented freshman entered Thursday night’s game against UMBC averaging 15.3 points, 7.4 rebounds 2.3 steals and 1.6 blocks per game. Those numbers may get better following Thursday’s action. One thing’s for sure: Zeller added two more highlight-reel plays to his first-year resume tape. Watch his powerful jam, set up by a terrific pass from Victor Oladipo, and see his breakaway jam in this post.
Have any doubts whether Purdue senior Robbie Hummel is healthy from his two major knee surgeries? Yeah, um, Hummel showed just how good he’s feeling with an athletic play to end the first half of Tuesday’s game against IPFW. It looked as though Kelsey Barlow was going to end the half with a running layup, but the ball caromed off the rim, and Hummel, who never gave up on the play, was there for the thunderous putback, milliseconds before the buzzer sounded. The refs reviewed the play, but as you can tell, it was good. Watch the putback now.
Like big dunks? You’re in luck, because Michigan State’s Branden Dawson got up and threw one down with authority during Monday night’s game against UMKC at the Breslin Center. The freshman, you could say, wasn’t all that intimated by Kangaroos big man Brad Reid, all 6-foot-11 of him. No, instead Dawson posterized the poor guy. Watch the athletic freshman’s powerful dunk now.
It’s no secret that Indiana’s Victor Oladipo is a human highlight-reel, and the high-flying sophomore proved it again Saturday against No. 1 Kentucky. Oladipo, who always knows how to excite the crowd with impressive dunks, did it all by himself versus the defensive-minded Wildcats. From behind the arc, Oladipo drove the lane, blew by a couple defenders and threw down a powerful one-handed jam, posterizing Kentucky’s Darius Miller in the process. Watch the explosive dunk here. In a word, wow!
One of the Big Ten’s most underrated stars, Penn State’s Tim Frazier is quietly making a name for himself. The junior point guard entered Sunday night’s game against Mississippi averaging 19.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 6.9 assists and 2.5 steals per game – all team highs – and he provided two of the louder and more impressive points of his season on a highlight-reel alley-oop. Watch the 6-foot-1 Frazier soar and throw it down against the Rebels now.
Indiana freshman Cody Zeller is off to a fabulous start to his college career. The highly touted Mr. Basketball has won each of the conference’s first two Freshman of the Week honors and a third could be on the way when the latest honors are released Monday morning. In Sunday night’s game against back-to-back national runner-up Butler, Zeller went for 16 points, two of which came on this emphatic reverse slam, eight rebounds, two blocks and three steals. It’s easy to see why Indiana fans are so excited about this kid. Watch the big-time dunk now.
If you’re fielding a dunk contest of only 7-footers, there might not be a better contestant than Illinois’ Meyers Leonard. The 7-foot-1 sophomore is an absolute freak of an athlete. People his size aren’t supposed to run the floor and move as smoothly and easily as he does. See what we’re talking about in this video of Leonard bringing down the house at Assembly Hall with a rim-rattling slam. Pretty impressive, huh?
Purdue point guard Lewis Jackson stands 5-foot-9, a generous figure to many people who know him. So it comes as no surprise that the senior entered Wednesday’s game with no career dunks. That all changed against Western Michigan, though, as Jackson threw down for the first time in a game. And what a first jam it was. Something tells us Jackson won’t soon forget this poke. Watch the powerful dunk now.