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State Farm College Slam Dunk and Three Point Championships: Questionable Judging Leads to Controversial Ending


PHOENIX- The State Farm College Slam Dunk and Three Point Championship took the spotlight on “The Worldwide Leader” Thursday night. The event hosted a couple of participants that sports fans here in the Commonwealth might take interest in.

First, Antonio Reeves from Kentucky would dawn the uniform one last time hoping to bring rain to the desert in the form of the three-ball. He will be in the field of some of the nation’s best shooters vying for bragging rights in the Three Point Championship.

Also in the field? Jack Gohlke….yeah, that Jack Gohlke.

Joining the high-flying acrobats of the night in the dunk championship would be Eastern Kentucky’s - John Ukomadu.

Ukomadu, a 6”7 senior from Southfield, MI would be competing in hopes to bring the hardware back to a familiar place in Richmond.

Did I say familiar?

I did.

In 2014, Marcus Lewis of EKU took home the slam dunk title belt. Capping off an amazing 2013-14 season for the Colonels that saw an OVC Tournament Championship and a down-to-the-wire loss to #2-seed Kansas in the NCAA Tournament.

Ukomadu averaged 5.3 pts on 50% shooting from the field this season but tonight he would hope the court was a little (extra?) bouncy as he looked to do his own “Marcus Lewis” emulation in Phoenix. He certainly has had a lot of practice, as he has rocked the rim 51 times over the past 2 seasons for the Colonels, good for second on the team.

For the dunk contest, a ten-point scale would be utilized by the celebrity judges. Eight competitors would be dunking in the first round with only the top four advancing to the semi-finals. Many of these participants have worked with “dunk coaches” (yes, that is a thing) in preparation for tonight.

For his opening dunk of the evening, Ukomadu soared through the sky of the valley with an impressive 360-one handed-tomahawk dunk to earn a 58/60 from the judges.  Ukomadu says that he did not grow up playing basketball, opting for the soccer pitch instead. It would be good enough to advance to the semi-final round with the third highest score.

To give the dunkers some rest, the Three Point Championship took place after Round One. Antonio Reeves would matchup with Quincy Olivari from up the road at Xavier. Reeves jumped out to an early lead, netting eight points through two racks of basketballs. The super-senior “sweetly” swished it through the nylon 19 times compared to Olivari’s 14. Unfortunately, cumulative scores were the measurement to advance and Antonio would end his night on a tiebreaker. However, in (somewhat) humorous news for the Big Blue Nation, Jack Gohlke finished dead last in the three point contest.

Showing that he is, in-fact….human.

Each semi-finalist dunker would be given two dunks, :45 seconds would be on the clock for each "round". Scores would reset as nothing from Round One would carry over.

“The key is to make the dunk”, some great analysis by ESPN there. I think the key would be creativity, overall verticality, and yes…making the dunk.

For his first dunk of Round Two Ukomadu used Jack Gohlke, the Wildcat killer, to throw an alley-oop off of the side of the backboard in which they were unable to convert. He took the ball (and matters) into his own hands and did an backside-reverse dunk that earned a total of 50/60 from the judges.

The follow up Dunk of Round Two saw Ukomadu leap over Keyshad Johnson from the Arizona Wildcats, earning a perfect 60/60. Johnson, stands at a stout 6'7" tall. Ukomadu displayed excellent verticality to clear him on the first attempt.

“That ball went north-to-south, just down”, said Jay Williams (also serving as a judge) when justifying his ‘10’.

That dunk would be good enough to vault Ukomadu into the finals, one step closer to becoming the collegiate dunk champion and joining fellow Colonel - Marcus Lewis, in the record books.

John Ukomadu and Gabe McGlothan (of the hosting Grand Canyon University) would be facing off in the deciding round. Ukomadu would need a magnificent performance to overthrow the crowd favorite. He looked up to the task as he moved Jay Bilas into a line of two other players, leaping over all three and crushing the ball through the cylinder. It earned a 59/60 with the lone “9” coming from Bryce Drew….who is the head coach of Grand Canyon University….the ultimate homer score. Completely unfair to Ukomadu in my personal opinion.

McGlothan attempted a dunk where he grabbed the ball off of the neck of what appeared to be a GCU student and it took him until his fourth try to make the dunk.

“The key is to make the dunk”……

He scored a 60/60 to win the dunk contest by a lone point. He owes thanks to his Coach.

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