Basketball’s most celebrated arts — dunking and 3-point shooting — were on display Thursday night at Georgia Tech’s McCamish Pavilion.
The most accomplished practitioner of the former was Detroit Mercy’s Doug Anderson, who won over the crowd and judges with a series of high degree-of-difficulty dunks to win the slam-dunk championship that has become a sugary staple of Final Four weekend.
Anderson won in the two-man final round by tearing in from the left wing and turning clockwise in the air while bringing the ball between his legs and then dunking with his left hand as he came out of his rotation. It was a dunk he had tried five times previously — twice back at school and three times Wednesday practicing at McCamish.
“Six times (is) the charm I guess, in dunks,” Anderson said.
Anderson was the clear fan favorite for the raucous, thunder stick-flapping, T-shirt-pleading crowd that filled the lower bowl of the arena. His first dunk, in which he lobbed the ball in the air, caught it off the bounce, brought it back below his waist and dunked with his back to the basket, brought Falcons wide receiver Roddy White, one of the judges of the contest, out of his director’s chair and flashing his “10” card in appreciation.
“I had to give everybody what they came to see,” said Anderson, a 6-foot-6 forward who averaged 12.1 points per game this season.
The men’s 3-point champion was Virginia Commonwealth’s Troy Daniels, who set a single-season record at VCU with 124 3-pointers. He outdueled Indiana’s Jordan Hulls 17-15 in the final. In the semifinals, Hulls and Daniels had the high scores in the event — in which contestants shot 25 3-pointers from five racks arranged around the arc — with 23 out of a possible 30.
“It’s great as an individual award, but obviously everybody wants to be playing in the Georgia Dome Saturday in the Final Four,” said Daniels, whose Rams lost to Michigan in the second round.
Daniels completed his career with another somewhat unexpected achievement — still having the highly sought-after Shaka Smart as his coach. This time around, Smart rebuffed the reported interest of Minnesota and UCLA to sign an extension at VCU.
“If he hasn’t left yet, I don’t think he will, unless somebody offers him like $10, 20 million,” Daniels said.
N.C. State’s Scott Wood, perhaps the most recognizable player in the event, lost in the four-man semifinal round.
The women’s champion hails from Indiana, forward Aulani Sinclair. She won the final 20-17 over N.C. State’s Marissa Kastanek. Sinclair, true to form, grew up shooting on her driveway in small-town Indiana and played some of her high school games in gyms where the movie “Hoosiers” was shot.
“Just to go out winning, I know I made Hoosier Nation proud,” she said.
Daniels defeated Kastanek 23-15 in the champions’ duel.