Ranking the Best Dunkers in College Basketball History
Slam dunks are some of the most exciting moments in college basketball games.
Because I consider myself both a basketball purist and a hoops rebel, I appreciate fundamentals and tomahawk jams.
While a dunk is only worth two points, I love to see someone rise up and viciously throw one down.
Here is a list ranking the best dunkers in college basketball history
Some of the individuals on this list were virtual unknowns to the common fan. Some were players who did their thing outside the bright lights of Division I games. But still others on this list were among the greatest collegiate players of the past 40 years.
Make sure you check out the videos on each slide.
10. Doug Anderson (Detroit Titans)
Detroit’s Doug Anderson was a dunking machine.
Some of the great dunkers of college basketball history use their midair magic to add emphasis to a breakaway layup or style to an offensive rebound.
Dunking was an indispensable part of Anderson’s game
His Titans bio made it clear that 135 of his 293 made field-goal attempts over his final two seasons were slams. That means almost half (46 percent) of his made shots were throwdowns.
But his dunks were not basic, straightforward slam dunks. As you can see in the video, Anderson’s dunks were forceful and creative.
9. James Justice (Martin Methodist)
Martin Methodist’s James Justice is not a household name in college basketball history.
Playing ball at an NAIA school does not usually get you noticed very much.
But when you are 5’10” and can throw down like he can, you start to gain a reputation that goes beyond your surroundings.
Justice shut down the 2012 NCAA slam dunk competition. It’s hard to imagine being able to get that far off the floor without the aid of a trampoline or a jet pack.
With a vertical leap that neared 50 inches, Justice was definitely served when this diminutive dunker took to the skies.
8. Jacob Tucker (Illinois College)
You may never have heard of Jacob Tucker of Illinois College (D-III), but if you take time to watch the video here, you are going to be blown away by this 5’11” guard’s hops.
Tucker won the 2011 NCAA slam dunk contest and a star was born.
If you think he can just do sick stuff in competition, watch his in-game highlights video. Impressive.
I know that someone might suggest that players like Justice and Tucker don’t deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as some of the best college players of all time.
To that I say, we will have to agree to disagree. Tucker’s ability to throw down is in the same class as some of the best of the best.
7. D.J. Stephens (Memphis Tigers)
Memphis’ D.J. Stephens may have only averaged four points per game over his four-year career for the Tigers, but that doesn’t stop him from being known as one of the top collegiate slam dunkers over the past several years.
“Leaping over tall buildings in a single bound” sounds like a description of what he did on a game-by-game basis.
Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo observed this about Stephens, via Gerry Ahern of the USA Today, "I've never seen a guy dunking the ball coming down way more often than on his way up. And he's smooth about it"
Memphis coach Josh Pastner mentioned one of the ideas that Stephens has for a future slam dunk competition, "He wants to jump over a convertible, dunk the ball, land in the convertible and drive off."
If anyone could do it, Stephens can.
6. Spud Webb (North Carolina State Wolfpack)
Anthony Jerome "Spud" Webb defied gravity on a consistent basis.
At 5’7”, Webb could pull off mind-blowing slams that most players a foot taller would struggle to execute.
Like most shorter slam dunkers, he combined shocking hops with dazing dexterity
I regret not being able to find video of Spud Webb’s spectacular slam dunks from his collegiate years. But I did not want to let that prevent us from remembering his outrageous aerial awesomeness.
5. Darrell Griffith (Louisville Cardinals)
The top half of this list features five superstar slam dunkers who were also some of the elite collegiate players of all time.
When Darrell Griffith (a.k.a. Dr. Dunkenstein) laced ‘em up for Louisville, midair miracles were ordinary occurrences.
Griffith, at 6’4”, played far above the rim as he helped the Cardinals win their first NCAA Championship in 1980 and earn National Player of the Year honors.
It was common for him to pull off dunk-competition exploits in the middle of normal games. Griffith would not think twice about finishing a fast break with a 360 slam.
4. Blake Griffin (Oklahoma Sooners)
Blake Griffin is the perfect combination of size, skill and rim-rattling remarkableness.
Most players who stand 6’10” do not have the agility to start or finish the kind of explosive exploits that Griffin pulled off over and over again while starring for Oklahoma.
Whether it was a perfectly timed alley-oop or a beastly baseline blast, Griffin’s dunks were momentum builders or momentum changers for the Sooners.
He did not need a clear runway for lift off. Griffin was more than capable of throwing down thunder as he drove to the basket with a defender draped on him.
Nothing changed as he moved from college ball to the NBA. He is both one of the most highly regarded power forwards in the Association and one of the most feared dunkers in the league.
3. Michael Jordan (North Carolina Tar Heels)
Michael Jordan has legitimately earned countless awards and honors throughout his collegiate and professional basketball career.
One that is not discussed much is his stunning slam dunk skills.
While playing for North Carolina, we only saw his emerging excellence in terms of his ability to launch and unload.
While Jordan was a Tar Heel, the joke went, “Who is the only person who could hold Michael Jordan under 20 points?” The answer was Dean Smith.
The same might be said for restraining MJ's natural ability to ruthlessly assault the rim.
Absolutely no disrespect intended to one of the great coaches of all time. Smith’s disciplined style of play simply did not emphasize individual exploits.
2. Dominique Wilkins (Georgia Bulldogs)
Dominique Wilkins was nicknamed “The Human Highlight Film” for good reason.
From the time he arrived on campus in Athens, he was elevating above any rim on every court, ready to bring an assortment of one-handed throwdowns, tomahawk dunks or double-pump jams.
He combined extraordinary explosiveness with an unusual motor.
Wilkins even had purposefulness behind his dunks: “I used slam dunking as a tool for intimidation.”
Because his Georgia teams never made a lot of noise in his three years, Wilkins was undervalued until he made it big in the NBA.
1. Vince Carter (North Carolina Tar Heels)
No other collegiate basketball player in history could dunk quite like North Carolina’s Vince Carter.
Even before he took his talents and his aerial artistry to the Association, Carter was causing midair mayhem in Chapel Hill.
His ability to rise high and throw down is unparalleled.
He was not just able to dunk on wide-open fast breaks. Carter could throw down in artistic ways that few others could.
Posterizing opponents was nearly an every-game occurrence. Catching and converting impossible alley-oops became common Vinsanity events.