Who is the Shore’s Best Dunker Since 2000? Vote Now
They are the type of players who create a buzz in the crowd when they get a step on a defender while slashing in the lane or get out ahead of the defense on the break.
The best dunkers have that mixture of power and explosiveness that make them more than worth the price of admission at a Shore Conference basketball game.
With the current crop featuring noted high-fliers like Ranney sophomores Scottie Lewis and Bryan Antoine as well as power dunkers like Freehold Township's Steve Staklinski and Mater Dei Prep's Elijah Barnes, it's worth taking a look back at some of the great throwdown artists from the Shore in the 21st Century.
Obviously there have been great dunkers from the Shore for many years, but their slams of the past are mostly relegated to people's memories or blurry VHS tapes. From the creation of YouTube in 2005 to every dunk clip now popping up on Twitter, Instagram or elsewhere, most of the dunkers of the 2000s have had their work preserved for all to see.
There are players like Red Bank's Will Sanborn, Manchester's Jaron Griffin, Middletown North's Shilique Calhoun, Monmouth's Joe Willman and a few others you could argue should be on this list, but these are the ones that stood out to me, plus some of the top current guys.
Here's a look at the best in no particular order, and if I missed anyone you think is worthy, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Scott_Stump. I'll keep the voting going through Monday, the night before this year's Shore Conference Tournament tips off.
Scottie Lewis and Bryan Antoine, Ranney
There's a reason the stands are packed at most Ranney games because these two sophomores can both throw down with the best in New Jersey. Lewis, in particular, has some supernatural hops. We'll be watching both of these guys playing on TV for major Division I programs in a few years, so savor it now.
Mike Gesicki, Southern (2014 grad)
While Gesicki is now better known for flying high to catch touchdown passes as a star tight end for Penn State, he also is Southern's all-time leading scorer in basketball. The most impressive thing about his dunks was the athleticism for his size. When a 6-foot-6, 250-pound player is pulling off 360s, that is impressive, in addition to just dunking right over people.
Elijah Barnes, Mater Dei Prep
It's rare that a game goes by where the Seraphs senior doesn't rattle the rim at least once. He has been an integral part of Mater Dei's rapid rise to the top of the Shore Conference in his two seasons with the Seraphs and will continue his career at Princeton.
Dom Uhl, Point Beach (2014 grad)
Coming straight outta Germany, Uhl is now showcasing his talents at the University of Iowa. While Garnet Gulls all-time leading scorer Jarelle Reischel had his share of dunks during his days at the Beach, I still think of him more for his silky shooting than playing above the rim. Uhl could not only get up, he also had Matt Farrell, currently starring at Notre Dame, as his point guard, which didn't hurt either. Yeah, there's a reason they won the Shore Conference Tournament and the Group I title for the first time in school history.
Steve Staklinski, Freehold Township
The Patriots' senior forward is known mainly for his power dunks, so anyone challenging him at the rim better be ready. Freehold Township already has a Class A North title in the bag this season and is looking for more, including their elusive first NJSIAA sectional title.
Amir and Armond Conover, Asbury Park (2012 graduates)
The Conover twins were always exciting because they exploded off the floor at only about 6-foot-1. They were instrumental in bringing the Blue Bishops Group I crowns in basketball and a Central Jersey Group I title in football. Maurice Dickerson and Thomond Hammary also deserve mention from that era of Blue Bishops basketball.
Jason Huelbig, Middletown North (2012 graduate)
A Huelbig dunk was basically the Lions' equivalent of a victory cigar during his time, which included a sectional title. Alley-oops, baseline throwdowns over opponents, putback dunks - he could do it all. He went on to play at Drew University, where he continued to posterize people.
Qa'rraan Calhoun, Raritan (2005 graduate)
Calhoun was a 6-foot-8 high-flier who helped the Rockets win their first Shore Conference Tournament title and first Group title. There are a few old highlights of him floating around at Raritan, but mainly his videos from playing overseas in Poland. If he's dunking on pros, you can only imagine what he was like in high school, especially with fellow star Marques Johnson running the point and feeding him alley-oops.
Marques Alston, Neptune (2003 graduate)
It's a crying shame his dunks haven't been preserved online somewhere. Alston was one of the most ferocious dunkers and physical players I ever covered. He used to do bench press with a bar with a manhole cover on each side during the summer for a workout. Alston threw down a couple dunks in a state playoff rout over Randy Foye's Newark East Side team that shook the whole gym. That team with Alston, Taquan Dean and Terrance Todd remains one of the best in Shore Conference history. Alston went on to star at Monmouth University, where his team reached the NCAA Tournament. He now is a police officer in Neptune.
J.R. Smith, Lakewood/St. Benedict's Prep (2004 graduate)
During Smith's time with the Piners in the early 2000s, he just embarrassed people. He would windmill dunk over defenders in the lane like it was nothing. We all know what he's done since then, including winning a ring with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers last year.
Mike Aaman, Raritan (2012 graduate)
Aaman, who is now a senior forward at Wagner, was like Alston in that he was more about power and just smashing it right on guys at 6-foot-9. He also had the Mohawk back then, so he looked like a character out of Mad Max. Aaman led the Rockets to their second SCT title in school history and was a two-time Shore Conference Player of the Year. He and Huelbig were actually AAU teammates, so a lot of teams got dunked on in the summer.
Sean Barksdale, Lakewood (2016 graduate)
Barksdale was the latest in a long line of exciting Lakewood dunkers that includes his own former head coach, Randy Holmes. Barksdale helped the Piners dominate Class B South and pile up wins during his tenure.