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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Wednesday / October 18.
  • Derrick Jones Could Shock Everyone and Win the Dunk Contest

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    When Derrick Jones’ named was first linked to the Slam Dunk Contest, some national reporters didn’t even know who he was.

    Now that it’s official that the former UNLV wing from Archbishop Carroll (Pa.) will compete against Aaron Gordon, DeAndre Jordan and Glenn Robinson III, Jones could end up taking home the title.

    Nicknamed “Airplane Mode” for his leaping ability, Jones has split time this season between the Suns and their NBA Development League affiliate, the Northern Arizona Suns.  The 6-7 rookie forward will become the first player to compete in the NBA Slam Dunk competition and play in the NBA D-League in the same season.

    In 2014, Jones won the dunk contest at the Under Armour Elite 24 Game and even impressed Dominique Wilkins with his dunking exploits.

    In 2015, Jones pulled out a truly special slam, jumping over four players, including 7-footer Josh Sharma, to win the Dunk Contest at the Mary Kline Classic.

    “I did it before so I just said I’m going to do it again,” Jones said that night.

    “I won it off that dunk so I said why not win off that dunk again.”

    Asked if he had ever seen anyone dunk over four people before, he said, “Not that I know of, but I did it.”

    Gordon returns to Slam Dunk after a dazzling performance last year that included three consecutive perfect scores of 50.  This season, the three-year veteran is averaging a career-high 11.4 points per game.  The 6-9 forward has scored at least 20 points six times after recording five 20-point games in his first two seasons combined.

    Jordan, a 2015-16 All-NBA First Team selection and a first-time All-Star in 2017, is tied for the NBA lead in rebounding (13.8 rpg) and paces the league in field goal percentage (69.6) for the fifth straight season.  The 6-11 center also has a league-high 150 dunks in his ninth season.

    Robinson III has started 24 of his 46 games in his third NBA season, averaging 6.3 points and 3.7 rebounds overall for the Pacers.  The 6-6 guard/forward is the son of two-time NBA All-Star Glenn Robinson Jr., the first overall pick of the 1994 NBA Draft.

     

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    Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.