Big Ten Basketball: Top 10 Dunkers with Video Highlights
While the Big Ten is known for being a grind-it-out defensive type conference, there are still plenty of vertically gifted athletes in the nation's top basketball conference this upcoming season.
Not only are all the players on this list great dunkers, but they are all top players on their respective teams as well. In the videos shown here, they will show off their extreme athleticism through a variety of slam dunks.
For those who were on this same list that I made a season ago, highlighted here. I tried to use a different dunk in the video, though I did use a repeat of Branden Dawson's windmill dunk.
10. Keith Appling
Had it not been for the above dunk, I'm not sure that Appling would have been deserving to be on this list. Appling is the point guard for Michigan State and stands only 6 feet tall. Yet in this video, he skies over the 6'7" shot blocking force in Melsahn Basabe and throws down the hammer.
Expecting dunks like this for Appling shouldn't be the norm. He will make highlight plays weaving to the bucket off the dribble, but as shown here he does have ability to rise above the rim. Appling's late game decision making needs to improve for the potentially Final Four bound Spartans.
9. Mitch McGary
Last year, another Michigan big man made the list in the No. 10 spot, that being Jordan Morgan. As McGary filled in for Morgan and the Wolverines last March, I figured it would be a fitting substitution here as well. McGary may not have the most stylish dunks, but the force with which he throws it down makes his dunks exciting.
McGary and Morgan will play in the frontcourt together this season, in a more traditional lineup look for John Beilein's team. McGary is a do-it-all big man, as he has the ability to score, rebound, pass, dribble and run in transition like few power forwards can. McGary will have plenty of opportunities for similar dunks in 2013.
8. Drew Crawford
After sitting out the majority of what would have been his senior season, Drew Crawford is back for one more year in Evanston. With Bill Carmody's firing, Crawford now has the opportunity to play in a more standard offense for Chris Collins and should have more chances to highlight his athleticism.
Crawford is not the prototypical Northwestern or Princeton Offense player. At 6'5", he has the ability to play nearly any position both offensively and defensively. In the video above, Crawford gets an easy steal leading to an uncontested dunk on the other end. I'm excited to see him play one more year in Evanston.
7. Melsahn Basabe
There may not be as enigmatic a player in the entire Big Ten the past two seasons as Melsahn Basabe. After a stellar freshman year, he's been hot and cold the majority of the past two seasons. Basabe finished the 2012-13 campaign strong, boding well for his chances as a senior in Iowa City in a loaded frontcourt.
Basabe feeds off the energy of the game more than anyone. If he blocks a shot on one end, don't be surprised to see him hit a jumper or get an offensive rebound putback on the other. In this case, Basabe gets a long rebound leading to a slam dunk. I'm expecting a monster senior season from this former Siena recruit.
6. Adreian Payne
Payne came to Michigan State as a project, a raw big man who really only excelled above the rim. Payne's game has expanded big time, as he can now shoot three-pointers, put the ball on the deck and swat shots into the first row. He is still a top-notch dunker as shown here while attacking the rim.
Payne stands 6'10", but has a wingspan of 7'4". He also owns a 38-inch no-step vertical, which is the best for any player under Tom Izzo. Look for Payne to continue to run the floor well leading to these rim rattling opportunities, in what could be an All-American season for the senior from Dayton, Ohio.
5. Will Sheehey
Last season, Will Sheehey was a spark off Tom Crean's bench as the team's sixth man. In this video, Sheehey makes a steal, dribbled up the whole court and puts the exclamation point on an end-to-end dunk.
Sheehey's role will be upgraded to starter this season, though he will need to continue to spark the Hoosiers and play with a chip on his shoulder. Sheehey is relentless in attacking the basket, but he will need to do a better job of converting on his free throw attempts when fouled.
4. Joseph Bertrand
Similar to Sheehey's case, Bertrand will be moved from sixth man to starting small forward and one of the team's top offensive options in 2013-14. In the above video, Bertrand perfectly times Brandon Paul's missed three point shot for an untouched putback dunk.
Bertrand is capable of taking games over, as he did against Georgia Tech last season while jumping over one of their defender's on a fast-break layup. Bertrand has always been a high riser, winning the Illinois High School Association dunk contest while he was a prep player at Sterling High School.
3. Glenn Robinson III
Another member of Michigan's 2012 recruiting class makes the list, as Glenn Robinson III's 360-dunk at Minnesota last January was truly a sight to see. Robinson makes the steal, which gives him this wide open opportunity. Ironically, Robinson had trouble creating offense for himself as a true freshman.
Without Trey Burke on campus, it will be up to Derrick Walton to put Robinson & company in positions to score this season. Robinson will be moved from power forward to small forward. He should be able to have his way on the inside with smaller defenders, meaning dunks like this could happen again.
2. Branden Dawson
After a torn ACL ended Dawson's freshman season, it looked like he would be out awhile. Instead, Dawson missed the remainder of that season but was back by the start of his sophomore year. His sophomore year was an inconsistent one, though he seems poised to get back on track as a junior.
The video highlighted is a repeat from last year's article, which came during his freshman season. Nonetheless, the sledgehammer windmill dunk that Dawson showcases here doesn't get old watching over and over.
The dunk truly is "videogame-like," something I expect to see more of out of the promising Dawson now that he should be more fully recovered from his ACL tear.
1. Sam Thompson
Somehow, Sam Thompson didn't make this top 10 list a year ago. As a freshman, his minutes were limited, though his role increased last year and should again now that he is an upperclassman. Unlike the nine players before Thompson, I had a real difficult time choosing just one video to highlight. So instead I chose a highlight reel of dunks for the Chicago native.
Thompson was always good for putting a dagger in Buckeye wins last season with similar dunks. Thompson developed into more than just an athlete last season, as he ended the year as the Buckeyes' top shooter from long range. With no more Deshaun Thomas, look for Thompson and LaQuinton Ross to shine as juniors.