James Tananan Kamnuedkhun
Lindenwood’s T.J. Crockett has booked his ticket to the NCAA Slam Dunk & Three Point Contest as he will be competing in the dunk contest.
To be selected into this contest is an incredible honor, and an experience that is nothing short of basketball caviar. A few basketball icons that have been involved in this competition include Steve Nash, Jason Terry, and Gary Payton.
Crockett was selected for the competition through the “Dark Horse Dunker” platform. The idea of the of the platform was to have a bracket of 16 players, and it was up to the fans to vote a “dark horse” into the competition, or someone who could sneak in and win by surprise.
T.J. won the vote by healthy margins after there were over 50,000 votes cast in the final round of voting. There were more than 215,000 voters throughout the entirety of the contest. The dark horse format has been going on since 2011, and two out of 10 of the dunkers would go on to hoist the trophy at the end of the competition. Head coach Kyle Gerdeman and Crockett both gave their thoughts on the special occasion.
Q: What does an honor like this mean for T.J. and the program?
A: “I think it’s an awesome honor for T.J. to get this type of experience on the national stage. It’s a unique opportunity, and I’m just so happy that he gets to experience.”
Q: What are your thoughts about Lindenwood being on a national platform such as ESPN for this event?
A: “Seeing Lindenwood on national platform is something I believe our entire university should be proud of. We had so many of our programs show support for T.J. with tweets and votes, it was really special to see our entire campus come together and support a fellow student-athlete. Also, a huge tremendous thanks goes out to Mike Barone, who I know spent a lot of time with social media promos and probably even more time voting!”
Q: First and foremost, what does this accomplishment mean to you?
A: “This means a lot, but more importantly this is for everyone who voted for me and supported me.”
Q: How excited are you to be playing during prime time on ESPN?
A: “It’s just a blessing to even be here. I am thrilled to be in front of so many people and on a big stage.”
Q: Do you still remember your first dunk pretty well? Was it simple or flashy? And when did you start getting flashy with your dunks?
A: “My first actual dunk was during sophomore year in high school during practice. I didn’t know I was going to finish it but I did. Then I took off from there. Junior year came and I was able to do flashy dunks such as a windmill, and so on.
Q: So how long have been watching the dunk contest for (NBA/College)? And what is your favorite dunk contest you’ve ever watched?
A: “I have been watching both for sometime now like since I was 5 I would say. I always wanted to dunk, to get the crowd’s reaction. My favorite dunk contest would have to be either 2016 Lavine vs Gordon, or 2000 Vince Carter. Rewatching Vince motivated me to want to be amazing in the air with a ball. But Lavine and Gordon showed me impossible moves become possible gliding through the air.”
Q: Have you been going back to old dunk contests to find inspiration for the competition this year?
A: Honestly, I have not- just really excited to be apart of something big and to represent this university one last time and from my family and friends who support me. I have some dunks that I’m prepared for and if I get to the next round, trust and believe, I will put on an amazing show.
Q: I know you probably won’t tell me about any speciality dunks, would you be willing to describe a more basic dunk or is it confidential?
A: “Let’s just say the people who know me will be like ‘he is always talking about this.’”
Q: Alright so another big question I had, are there a pair of shoes that give you more air that you’re gonna wear, or is there a flash pair that you want to wear?
A: “We’re not sponsored by Nike, but I prefer KD 6s. They are literally the best shoe in my opinion, but I will have something on- but I don’t know what yet.”
Q: How are you going to celebrate if you win it all?
A: Give a huge shout out to everyone for the opportunity and celebrate with my family!”
Crockett will be competing at the Hinkle Fieldhouse on Thursday, April 1st in Indianapolis, Ind. The contest will kick off at 9 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.
UPDATE – Post Dunk Contest
Wearing the grey alternate uniforms, and a pair of yellow Curry Five Lows, T.J. Crockett impressed last Thursday in the College Slam Dunk & 3 Point Contest in Indianapolis.
He advanced to the final round of the competition, but was unable to complete his dunk, which would give the victory to Morgan State University’s Troy Baxter.
Crockett placed in the top four of the first round as he scored a 35.7 on his first slam. It was a relatively simple dunk, but was still an incredibly solid windmill as he jammed the attempt with authority on his third go-around. The effort moved the guard onto the second round, where he would end up with the second best combined score of a 77.1 out of 100. His next dunk was a tomahawk-like jam, getting around three feet of air after planting on two feet on the hardwood.
Once the senior got to the championship round, he was looking for the kill shot as he was assisted by Petra Holesinska, who is a guard for the University of North Carolina. The idea appeared to be an alley oop that was going to be off the side of the backboard, but the two’s timing was off during the attempts. He would then try to attempt a reverse jam under the basket, but it did not go in. Because of this, the judges were unable to give Crockett a score, and he would come in second place in the competition.
“The experience was amazing. I cannot complain at all. Just being around a bunch of great male and female athletes was a great opportunity for me and another accolade for my college books. This ranks right after my 54 point game on senior night,” Crockett said.