Aficionados of the slam dunk found plenty to enjoy during the 2012-13 college basketball season. Now that the year is wrapped up, it’s time to look back at the most earth-shaking jams from college courts across the country.
One of the season's biggest stories was the emergence of Indiana star Victor Oladipo, who turned plenty of fast breaks into canvases for his rim-rocking artistry. The most memorable of his slams came in a conference tourney date with Illinois, where the United Center crowd got to see one of the year's best 360-degree throwdowns.
Read on for a look at Oladipo’s whirlybird finish as well as the rest of the 20 most phenomenal dunks of the year in college hoops, with an eye to picking the best of the best.
With Michigan already running away from Minnesota on the road in the second half, Glenn Robinson III really runs away from Minnesota for a steal-and-slam.
Power: B Robinson usually gets a lot more muscle than this behind his dunks.
Difficulty: C- He has time to make a sandwich before the Gopher defense shows up.
Rodney Williams Jr. found an impressive way to open the scoring in Minnesota’s ACC-Big Ten Challenge matchup with Florida State.
Difficulty: A Not only does Williams have to reach ridiculously far back for the ball, but he got this much height jumping from a standing start.
A rare flashy play in a game featuring physical Wisconsin saw Trey Burke loft a half-court alley-oop to the waiting Tim Hardaway Jr.
Power: B- A valiant effort by the defense sucked much of the oomph out of this one.
Flair: B+ Burke’s long-distance feed boosts an unremarkable play in this category.
Difficulty: A+ You’ll rarely see an alley-oop converted with a defender as well positioned as Mike Bruesewitz is here.
Jamaal Franklin tested the limits of the traveling rules with—for all practical purposes—an alley-oop to himself against Fresno State.
Power: C Franklin barely touches the rim here, for all the other virtues of this play.
Difficulty: A- Obviously, the defense is a non-factor, but Franklin gets credit for making this trick work at such a high speed.
Rodney Williams Jr. gives the home fans something to remember him by in his last game at Williams Arena.
Difficulty: B- The defense is a mess here, but the steep angle on the baseline earns Williams some points.
Kansas’ own Jamari Traylor comes closer than Washington State’s defense to stopping Ben McLemore on a breakaway follow slam.
Power: B+ You’ll certainly see more explosion than this from McLemore, but it’s the circumstances that make the difference here.
Difficulty: A- That’s a clean catch and follow dunk over a bigger player with inside position (even if it is one of his own teammates).
Syracuse vs. Georgetown, round three, featured C.J. Fair hammering one home over Otto Porter Jr. in overtime.
Power: A- Fair gets about as much air taking jump shots as he does on this dunk, or else he’d definitely have rated an A+ here.
Difficulty: A- Porter had wonderful defensive position, but for all his size, he isn’t actually much of a shot-blocker.
Quinn Cook misses the scoop against Maryland, but Mason Plumlee has his back with style.
Power: C+ Usually Plumlee’s strong suit, but he gets hardly anything on this jam.
Difficulty: A Even with no one putting a body on him, this is a tough angle for Plumlee, who’s also trying not to crash into the oblivious Terrapin defenders on the landing.
As if the Bearcats of Northwest Missouri State needed further proof of how overmatched they were in a road game at Missouri, Keion Bell provided some.
Difficulty: A- Even given the low-level opposition, Bell earns this one. He starts at the three-point line, drives past three defenders and splits the last two in the air.
The signature play of an early-season Duke romp was this Mason Plumlee alley-oop against Ohio State.
Flair: A Plumlee gets far more air here than you’d think a 235-lb center could manage.
With the game well in hand against Illinois, Victor Oladipo gives the Hoosier fans at the United Center something to cheer about.
Power: A+ Oladipo’s explosiveness here would be impressive even on a far less tricky dunk attempt.
Difficulty: C Despite Oladipo’s admirable sense of urgency, the Illini defense wasn’t showing up any time soon.
A steal by Louisville PF Chane Behanan gives him plenty of runway for a thunderous finish.
Difficulty: B Although defender Worrel Clahar is well positioned, he stands just 5’11” to Behanan’s 6’6”.
N.C. State’s hard-fought loss to Miami was decided by a Hurricanes offensive rebound, but late in the first half, it was Wolfpack freshman Rodney Purvis turning an offensive board into a tomahawk jam.
Flair: C+ “Graceful” is not the word for this dunk.
Difficulty: A+ Not only does Purvis overcome a terrible angle, but he beats two Miami defenders to the ball.
A rout of East Tennessee State provided the stage for Arizona’s Nick Johnson to go airborne.
Power: A- Stronger at the finish than you’ll see for most 360 attempts.
Difficulty: B- The defense didn’t quite get back in time, but it was certainly close enough to make most players think twice about trying such an elaborate dunk.
Chase Fieler puts the exclamation point on Florida Gulf Coast’s monster upset of Georgetown in the NCAA tournament.
Flair: A+ Extra points for Brett Comer’s over-the-shoulder feed here.
Duke’s Ryan Kelly put on a show against the Hurricanes, but not before Miami’s Kenny Kadji overpowered the 6’11” senior.
Difficulty: A- Although Kelly is just trying to take the charge (a lost cause, as it turns out), give Kadji credit for being aggressive even as he sees the Blue Devils’ best shot-blocker sliding into position.
Florida Gulf Coast made a historic trip to the Sweet 16 behind plays such as this one from Eric McKnight against San Diego State in the round of 32.
Power: A+ The human shoulder doesn’t bend much farther back than McKnight’s does to set up this tomahawk.
Difficulty: B+ The defense is caught out of position, but an alley-oop this smooth in a half-court set offense is still a rarity.
At 6’10”, 215 lbs, Baye Keita is a substantial college center, but South Florida’s 6’9”, 235-lb Victor Rudd showed him a serious big man's play with a ferocious alley-oop.
Flair: B+ Helped out by extra points for Anthony Collins’ ultra-casual feed.
Difficulty: A Keita makes a good-faith effort to contest this shot and Rudd doesn’t even notice it.
Okaro White provides one of the biggest plays of a lost season for Florida State.
Power: A+ Check out where the ball ends up after White smashes it through the rim.
Difficulty: A No, Devin Booker doesn’t get off the ground here, but he’s a 6’8”, 250-lb defender preventing White from getting any closer to the rim than he does.
Trevor Mbakwe knows a thing or two about power dunks, and he knew he was on the wrong end of one in a Big Ten meeting with Illinois, courtesy of star guard Brandon Paul.
Power: A Note that despite the ref's apparent charge call, the basket counted.
Difficulty: A+ Not only does Mbakwe have a huge size advantage and good position, but he’s one of the Gophers’ top shot-blockers.