Kentucky Basketball: Ranking Wildcats' Best Dunkers from the Past Decade
The last decade of Kentucky basketball has seen three different coaches, numerous different players and a handful of electrifying dunkers.
Whether it's ultra-athletic guards or versatile post players, Big Blue Nation has been dazzled by the play and high-flying ability of their players over the last decade. The success on the court has been just fine as well, with a national championship and three trips to the Final Four during the last decade.
Sure, there's no difference on the scoreboard if there's a tomahawk dunk as opposed to a layup or 12-foot jumper. But there's something about a powerful dunk that seems to always spark a run or get the crowd energized and back into the game.
This slideshow will take a look at the five best dunkers over the last decade for Kentucky. As always, feel free to voice your opinion in the comments section.
- Darius Miller
- Archie Goodwin
- Kelenna Azubuike
- Eric Bledsoe
5. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has the body of the prototypical great dunker. At 6'7" with extremely long arms, he has the ability to jump from a distance, stretch toward the rim and finish with authority and through contact, like you see in the video above.
Kidd-Gilchrist made a habit of getting the crowd at Rupp Arena on their feet during his one year in Lexington. He did this, more often than not, by getting a steal or rebound on the defensive side and using his speed to get up the court quickly. He then turned his athleticism on full-gear and attacked the rim, finishing with a two-handed dunk.
He made a name for himself as a prominent dunker during his one year in Lexington, and the dunk you see against Portland in the video above was nominated for Dunk of the Year in college basketball.
4. Alex Poythress
Much like Kidd-Gilchrist before him, Poythress is the type of player you see in dunk contests. His long frame and freakish strength makes every dunk look that much more powerful and graceful for Poythress.
Poythress has extremely gifted hands as well, thus allowing him to make plays like that in the video above. When running the court, or even in a half-court set play, guards are looking at the rim for Poythress to be there to finish off the alley-oop attempt.
The Tennessee native also benefits from the fact he's an excellent rebounder. Poythress will look to attack the offensive glass, and instead of bringing the ball down, he immediately looks for the putback dunk. His ability as a dunker will continue to grow with each year, as we saw from his freshman to sophomore campaign.
3. Terrence Jones
Notice a running trend with the great dunkers in recent memory for Kentucky? Athletic wing players who can use the dribble to attack the rim and then use their strength to finish.
Back in 2011, when Jones was at Kentucky, Yahoo had a column discussing the best dunkers that season. Jones was listed, saying he has had impressive slams over multiple defenders in traffic due to his mean streak when attacking the lane.
Jones used the benefit of having a unique skill set in order to help make him a great dunker. Playing the power forward position at Kentucky, he often had slower guys trying to guard him on the perimeter. By being able to have great ball-handling skills, Jones would easily beat his man off the dribble and then finish at the rim.
2. Anthony Davis
Finally, a break in the 6'7" guys who could beat people off the dribble and finish at the rim. Instead, we have a physical specimen in Anthony Davis, who became one of the best players in Kentucky history thanks in part to his ability to finish at the rim.
Davis is 6'10" with a wingspan that stretches well over 7'0". During his magical one year at Kentucky, he became a human highlight reel thanks to the lobs the Wildcats would throw his way throughout the season. On a pick-and-roll, Davis would commonly roll to the basket and find a pass at the rim that he would elevate to slam home.
While throwing the ball to a guy who is taller than most and can dunk seems like a simple play, Davis made it look spectacular. Whether it was using his long arms to grab passes that seemed impossible to catch or his jumping ability to be high in the air, Davis made sure all eyes were on him when he was around the rim.
1. John Wall
The best dunker in the last decade for Kentucky was not a wing player. It wasn't someone with great size. It was just an uber-athletic point guard who helped put Kentucky back on the map.
John Wall was one of the most agile and athletic players in all of college basketball during his one year with the Wildcats. He showed that throughout the season with highlight dunks, using his speed to blow by everyone on the defense and then finishing with strength at the rim.
Wall has continued to flourish as a dunker in the NBA, most recently winning the Slam Dunk Contest during the 2014 All-Star weekend.
At 6'4", Wall makes most dunks look exciting due to the hang time he must get to finish at the rim. Regardless of the decade, he'll go down in Kentucky history as one of the most important players and one of the best dunkers.