Marcus Lewis' Prodigious Dunking Ability Will Get Him on NBA Teams' Radar

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistApril 4, 2014

ST LOUIS, MO - MARCH 21:  Andrew Wiggins #22 of the Kansas Jayhawks defends Marcus Lewis #12 of the Eastern Kentucky Colonels during the second round of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Scottrade Center on March 21, 2014 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

If you didn't know Marcus Lewis before Thursday night, you certainly do now. The Eastern Kentucky star dazzled college basketball fans with a masterful performance en route to winning the 2014 College Slam Dunk Contest.

Lewis fought off Baylor's Cory Jefferson, who dunked from the free-throw line in the semifinals, and Michigan State's Adreian Payne, who dunked two balls at once and pulled off a ridiculous 360 earlier in the tournament. By the end of the night, the Colonels guard was a deserving champion.

In the process, he may have gotten himself noticed by NBA scouts.

If you don't think that a dunk contest could affect a player's pro perception, Fear the Sword's Sam Vecenie argued that Payne may have boosted his draft stock as a result of his athletic dunks:

Of course, those paled in comparison to Lewis'. His feats of athleticism were bordering on the impossible.

In case you missed out on the event's festivities, here are Lewis' two dunks from the semifinal round.

This is the jam that won him the competition.

Lewis' performance didn't come as a surprise to Colonels head coach Jeff Neubauer, who joked back in February that the pros couldn't do it better than his star guard.

"You see the dunks that took place in the NBA dunk contest, you know those are just do overs of what Marcus has already done," Neubauer said, per WKYT in Lexington, Ky.

Looking ahead, Lewis likely has a future in the sport. The question is where that will be.

OMAHA, NE - MARCH 16:  Doug Anderson #23 of the Detroit Titans dunks in the first half against the Kansas Jayhawks during the second round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at CenturyLink Center on March 16, 2012 in Omaha, Nebraska.  (Photo by
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Last year's champion, Doug Anderson, didn't have much luck in this regard, and he had a much better collegiate record that Lewis, so the future doesn't bode well for the Eastern Kentucky senior.

The NBA is obviously at a level where teams don't have a place for somebody who's only redeemable trait is his dunking ability, but there was something seductive about the way in which Lewis leapt into the air. You couldn't have watched the event and not been blown away by what you saw.

It's a near certainty that Lewis won't get selected in the 2014 NBA draft. However, don't be surprised if a team takes a flier on him off the back of his performance on Thursday night. Maybe he'll get an invite to the 2014 Summer League and parlay that into a place on a D-League team. From there, he's only one step away from the NBA.

If James White can play in the league, so can Lewis.

A problem Anderson ran into ahead of last year's draft and subsequent Summer League was that at 6'6", he was a bit undersized for a forward, given his limited skill set.

Lewis doesn't have that problem. At 6'4", he's the optimal height for a 2-guard.

In addition, Lewis made big strides between his first and second seasons at EKU. His shooting percentage jumped from 48.6 percent to 51.4 percent, and his three-point percentage increased from a paltry 16.9 percent in 2012-13 to a much more respectable 32.0 percent in 2013-14.

Lewis is obviously very raw at this stage, but his athleticism could lead to some team taking the gamble and figuring it can mold the guard into something worthwhile.

If all else fails, the Harlem Globetrotters probably have an opening.