The most exciting play in college hoops is a ferocious dunk, whether it comes from an alley-oop, a one-handed put-back or a glide across the lane. There have been hundreds of amazing and jaw-dropping dunks in NCAA basketball history, so whittling these incredible plays down to a list of the 25 greatest was extremely tough.
Surely, there are other dunks that could qualify for a spot on this list, but these are my favorite dunks that I feel showcase a unique variety of dunk types and finishes. Every single one of these slams are incredible highlights and should bring back some great memories about some of your favorite player's greatest plays.
With that being said, let me know what you think of the dunks, and I hope that you enjoy replaying these rim-rattling jams as much as I did. Be sure to leave feedback in the comments section, and let us know what your favorite dunks are and why.
To start off this list, I bring you a great dunk from the 1996 "Untouchables" team. Kentucky's Derek Anderson showed off in emphatic style why UK was superior to Louisville at the time with a one-arm outstretched dunk that placed defender Nate Johnson on basketball posters across the Bluegrass state.
Anderson raced down the court, received a great pass from Anthony Epps and flew right by Johnson. He completed the move by shifting his body forward and nearly throwing his arm through the hoop.
If this dunk is only the 25th greatest in college basketball history, wait to see what is in store further down.
The above video has three dunks, all of which are fantastic. The specific dunk that I am referring to is the third and final one, in which Jabari Smith takes the pass on the fast break and rises up over the defender. He cocks one hand back and then throws down the in-your-face dunk that erupts a frenzy from the crowd.
Granted, all three dunks in the video are impressive and show off Smith's unique flavor of dunking. He has more of an old-school approach and appears to have gloves for hands. The final dunk is just a showcase of raw power and completely disregarding the defender in front of him.
One item of interest in the above video clip: Watch the final slow motion replay and focus on the player with No. 4 on his jersey. In slow motion, you can see his body completely erupt into jubilation when Smith throws down the dunk. It might be one of the funniest dunk celebrations that I have ever seen, so definitely check it out.
Warning to teenage viewers: You are about to witness Shaquille O'Neal as a freak-of-nature athlete. Yes, that is correct; "Shaq" used to be the greatest physical specimen on this planet and made plays that would blow your mind.
This dunk shows an example of this during his college days in Baton Rouge. O'Neal was a seven-foot monster on the college hardwood, and his impressive put-back slam shows off his incredible athleticism at an early age.
Shaq rears his arm back, catches the ball perfectly in stride and rattles the rim with thunder and lightning. This play even made Dick Vitale temporarily speechless, having him question how a seven-foot player could pull off such a feat. That is why this dunk is so great, and it was a precursor of things to come in the near future.
The announcer call says it all. LaBradford Smith did not just dunk the ball over a defender. Rather, he "climbed Mount Everest!" by tossing the defender clear across the court and out of his way.
This is an excellent example of a facial dunk, and Smith shows no mercy on his path toward the hoop. His exciting play is one of many reasons why college players wanted to play for coach Denny Crum in the 1980s.
One thing that all basketball players wish to avoid is being "posterized" on a nasty dunk. Regrettably for this Albany defender, he became just that after Marqus Blakely laid down the hammer in this crazy facial dunk.
Blakely ran down the lane with reckless abandon and had no intention of stopping. The defender tried to make a respectable play by drawing a charge, but instead he had his face stuffed into Blakely's shorts in one of the most powerful slams in recent memory.
Russell Westbrook has grown into a superstar in the NBA, and we have grown used to seeing him thrown down some vicious dunks. However, this was not as commonplace during his UCLA days.
However, the above highlight was foreshadowing what would come in his professional career, as Westbrook completely disrespects the defense and rams the ball through the hoop. This dunk is so special because of the power shown by Russell. As we are now aware, "Angry Russ" is capable of some amazing plays on the basketball court, this dunk included.
Dequan Jones' rim-rattling slam might be one of the most impressive displays of athleticism on this entire list. First of all, his burst of speed to the rim warned the crowd that something explosive was about to occur.
Then came the unexpected. Jones began his reverse dunk by pumping hard on one end of the backboard. By the time he reached the opposite side of the rim, Jones had cocked his arm back the other way and threw the ball down hard through the net.
This freakish display of power and creativity is why this dunk is rated so high on the list. Jones would continue to throw down some amazing dunks in his career, but none topped this one against the Tar Heels.
This dunk is a somewhat new addition to the list, as I think it is brutally underrated on dunk compilations. Perry Stevenson's slam has everything that you are looking for in an all-time great dunk: a burst of speed, raw strength, long outstretched arms and some muscle flexing after posterizing the defender.
However, what makes this dunk truly great is the star player of the clip. Perry Stevenson was an occasional starter during Billy Gillispie's tenure at Kentucky. He was a very quiet player who hardly attempted any powerful plays or did anything to be noticed on the court. There were some nice blocks, but Stevenson's offensive game was not a strength, and he hardly ever showed off a killer dunk.
That is what makes this dunk so compelling. For once in his career, Perry decided to bring the house and have the focus completely on himself. After he caught the pass, a fire inside was lit, and he burst right towards the basket. "Super Perry" sprang up and decided that the defender would have nothing to do with this play, so he emphatically crushed the ball into the hoop and sent the poor opponent sprawling to the floor.
The best part of all is the classic finish, in which Stevenson flexes some of those muscles right at the posterized player. This dunk is a classic and will serve as the most memorable moment of Perry Stevenson's UK career.
Once upon a time, the Auburn Tigers had a good basketball team that was loaded with talent. Yes, this is actually true. The 1999 team was led by athletic phenom Chris Porter, who rattled home one of the plays of the year with his putback slam against the LSU Tigers.
Porter's dunk is so impressive because of the angle that he had to not only catch the ball in the air, but also to bring his arm back and slam it home. This is an amazing dunk and one of the best highlights in college basketball.
This dunk comes down to one thing: push-ups. Dahntay Jones converted a nasty dunk over the Virginia defender, using one hand to rock the ball and slam it down.
But what makes this dunk a classic is the aftermath of the dunk. Jones dunks the ball, then falls to the ground and gives the crowd a showcase of his strength by performing push-ups right next to the fallen defender.
Some may call his action arrogant, but I call it hilarious. It makes this dunk a modern classic and one of the best in Blue Devil history.
"Ram-Jam-Slam!" This quote from Dick Vitale says it all about this ferocious throw down by Jerry Stackhouse. Playing against arch-rival Duke, he ensured that his name would be etched in the history of the series by converting one of the most creative and emphatic slams in Tar Heel history.
The radio call by Vitale is classic, but so is the dunk itself. It is not an easy dunk to make, but Stackhouse showed America his pro potential by driving the baseline, avoiding two Blue Devil defenders and unexpectedly pulling off a reverse one-handed slam that sent the crowd into a frenzy.
This dunk is classic and seemed to be the inspiration for Dequan Jones' dunk from earlier in the list.
In 2001, Eddie Griffin was one of the top players in college basketball. This is what makes this dunk by Demetrius Hunter so memorable.
Hunter slashed into the lane, made a slight hesitation in his forward progress, which drew Griffin in, then he popped the ball through the hoop so fast that Griffin and the crowd barely had time to even recognize what just happened.
It is the early hesitation, followed by the immediate and powerful slam, that makes this dunk so memorable. Hunter made an emphatic and powerful statement to college basketball that he was not scared of anybody, even one of the best players in the country.
Will Bynum took out his boxing gloves and hit us with a vicious 1-2 punch with this dunk: a nasty facial slam and plenty of trash talk to boot.
It is the combination of these two aspects that makes this dunk so sweet. Bynum runs down the court and takes on the defender's attack. Instead of shying away, Bynum cocks back the ball and rams it home right through the player's outstretched arms.
Right after this, Bynum lets loose a parade of trash talk that makes this dunk an instant classic. It is such an intimidating and powerful play, one certainly deserving of recognition as one of the 25 greatest dunks in college basketball history.
This dunk from Vince Carter was a sign of things to come, as Carter would eventually become one of the most renowned dunkers in NBA history. However, he began his airtime exploits as a North Carolina Tar Heel.
Although he had multiple great dunks in the college ranks, this is his most powerful and ferocious. Vince loses his defender, leaps up into the middle of Clemson defenders and stuffs the ball home with a nasty one-handed catch and slam. The dunk is a beauty to behold, but the most jaw-dropping aspect is the sheer might that Carter threw it down with. This dunk was one for the ages.
First of all, I want to apologize to fans of this play who knows that there are better angles of the dunk. I searched all over YouTube, and this is the only short clip of the dunk, so if you have access to a better video then let me know in the comments section below.
With that being said, Damon Thornton dunked over a seven-footer. Yes, you heard that right; Thornton dunked clear over a player's head and rattled home an iconic facial.
When viewing the full play, Thornton received the ball near half court and took off on a sprint right at the rim. There was a very tall defender in his path, but Thornton simply drove through that path and slammed home a dunk worthy of high recognition. This is an all-time classic facial and a fan favorite.
This dunk makes me wish that I had a vertical leap. If you ever doubted the athletic ability of Syracuse's Hakim Warrick, let this highlight overtake your senses and shed your mind of any doubt. He is a physical freak of nature.
Warrick does not simply dunk over a guy. He rises up from a set position on the ground and dunks the ball from out near the stratosphere. Normally, players would shoot a hook shot from that distance. However, Hakim's tremendous length surprised the defender, as he instead pursued the rim for a dunk.
This might be one of the most impressive displays of talent and athleticism of any college player in recent memory. That is why this dunk will live in infamy and is a modern classic.
Georgia Tech's Ismail Muhammad converted a lot of powerful dunks in his college career. However, the dunk seen above is likely his most incredible of all.
Simply put, a dunk immediately becomes epic when a player jumps over a defender's face. Muhammad did just that and sent home the dunk of the year through the rim. This dunk has it all: power, a burst of speed and a defender's face getting leaped over in a single bound.
Alexander Johnson came running down the lane and put forth one of the greatest displays of raw power I have ever seen in a dunk. This was near Shawn Kemp-level in terms of the "get out of my way" factor. Simply put, this is one of basketball's greatest facial dunks.
What is even greater is the aftermath in which Johnson stood over the defender, who fell to the floor in defeat. Johnson started flexing his muscles and basically told the player who was the boss on that court. It was definitely Alexander Johnson.
Every bit of this play is memorable and iconic, which is why it ranks so high on this list. Simply a fantastic all-around dunk.
Darvin Ham developed into a solid professional in the NBA ranks, but his most memorable play on the basketball court comes from his college years at Texas Tech.
In the above dunk, Ham embraced his inner "Shaq" and decided that the court needed a new backboard. Ham chased down the high rebound and slammed the ball through with a powerful two-handed dunk. The force of his slam pulled the rim loose and caused the backboard to shatter across the hardwood.
When you can show off such incredible power in a dunk, it immediately becomes an all-time classic.
Simply put, this vintage Michael Jordan dunk is a thing of beauty and grace. It was also a small glimpse into the future for the superstar guard from North Carolina, who ended the game against Maryland by giving the crowd a show.
This "Rock the Baby" slam is a signature Jordan play, and he reproduced it periodically during his days as a Chicago Bull. The beauty of the dunk cannot be understated; it will always bring back a classic vibe even in modern times. This is one of college basketball's classic slams and will always stand out from Jordan's college career.
There should be no reason necessary why Julius Page's dunk ranks so highly on this list. It is one of the most athletic displays of power that I have ever seen in the college game and maybe even in the NBA.
Not only does Page use one hand to dunk the ball through a defender—that wouldn't be enough to make it stand out—but he also takes his left hand and holds the ball as high above the rim as humanly possible, nearly level with the top of the square and throws down a ferocious rip that hurdles down from the rafters.
This dunk is an all-time favorite and made Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje a household name, for all of the wrong reasons.
There have been some incredible dunks on this list, but this is one of the greatest. In my opinion, there is not a better putback slam in college basketball history.
Melvin Levett came out of nowhere during this play and skied high above the rim. The angle in which he had to catch the ball with one hand blows your mind; the level of difficulty had to be extremely high to pull this off. Levett's arms stretches as far as humanly possible and slams the ball emphatically through the hoop.
The putback alone is enough to make this dunk an all-time favorite. However, the aftermath is also great. Levett spins around the rim to show off some athleticism, and then he maintains his balance and runs down the court full of excitement, as capped off by the great high-five to his Bearcat teammate.
All in all, this is one of the greatest college dunks in history and claims the title of best putback slam ever.
Vince Carter may be well-known for completely dunking over a Russian defender during the Olympics, but he is not the first player to pull off that feat. In fact, he might have been influenced by UNLV's Jarvis Basnight, who pulled off an absolutely incredible slam against Pacific.
The camera angle on this dunk shows the play perfectly, as Basnight completely clears the defender's head on the way to the hoop. Could this play be anymore embarrassing for the Pacific player? This dunk is one of the original "posters" and is still incredible to watch.
When you can completely clear a human body on the way to the rim, then you deserve a spot in the Top 3.
This is one of the greatest and most memorable dunks in all of basketball. There are a number of factors that make it so thrilling and shocking to watch, including the great length from which Dirk Minniefield leaped and how the defender was treated as if he did not even exist.
However, the most amazing aspect of Minniefield's dunk is the "gliding" or "floating" effect that you witness on the first camera view. He leaps and rises, but Minniefield just keeps going higher somehow and he ends the dunk by looking down at the rim.
This is all the more amazing because of his 6'3" height. All in all, this is an all-time classic dunk that has stood the test of time and will appear on numerous "Best Dunks" lists for decades to come.
Coming down to the number one dunk on this list, didn't you know that this could be the only choice? There is no dunk in college basketball history that matches the combination of greatness that Jerome Lane's rim breaker provides.
The dunk, the result and the announcer call are all iconic and together they form the single best dunk in college basketball. Lane receives the pass and slams home a thunderous one-handed dunk. Next, the rim breaks and shatters the backboard, which is one of the coolest events that can occur during a basketball game. When a backboard breaks, you know that you have witnessed something incredibly powerful and rare.
To end the play, the announcer lets loose a perfect call that sums up the entire sequence by yelling, "Send it in, Jerome!" All in all, this dunk has it all and is the rightful king upon the throne of college basketball dunks. All hail King Jerome.