By Taylor Lambert
First off, I love high school basketball season. If you asking me, I'd say it's the most fun sport to cover in the Bay Area. There's so much top national talent right here in the Bay. You only have to travel a short distance to see some of the best players in the country. While the style and quality of play are impressive, it's the dunks -- or the athletes flying through the air -- which really get people excited.
Some of the best dunkers in the area are also some of the best players, which makes some sense since it's an athletic game and many high ranking recruits are there because of their physical tools. Aaron Gordon from Mitty, Jabari Bird from Salesian, Marcus Lee and Kendall Smith from Deer Valley, JoJo McGlaston out of Dublin, Michael Smith from El Camino and Aubrey Dawkins from Palo Alto are all special dunkers and have definitely shown it this year.
JoJo McGlaston, from Dublin High School, has a nice all-around aspect to his game but where he's really scary is when he has a full head of steam heading toward the basket. JoJo is one of the few hoops players in the area who'll dunk on anyone at anytime. Usually a dunk seen by the Cal-Hi Sports Bay Area crew is in the open court or on a breakaway, but JoJo is one of the select athletes who has the ability to jam it in traffic. This year, I've seen him dunk in traffic during a fast break, off an inbounds plays underneath, in the slowed down half-court offense and pretty much any other time JoJo gets the itch to throw it down. He's a fun player to watch and is only going to get better as the young man develops his game For my money right now, he's the best dunker in the Bay Area high school ranks (with respect to Jabari Bird).
Let's get into some dunking big men: Aaron Gordon out of Mitty and Marcus Lee from Deer Valley. True, both these guys are in the Six-foot-Nine and Six-foot-Ten range, which some may think is too big to be mentioned as a true dunker, but both these guys are very athletic and gifted in the air. Their height gives them the opportunity to slam at anytime and they take advantage of that. Aaron does throw down the more athletic dunks (not that Lee isn't athletic), but Marcus is LOOKING to dunk on people.
“I wonder if that's what people think before playing me 'Is Marcus going to dunk on me today?'... Yes,” Lee said. "Any way you slice it though, a dunk from either of these big guys is going to bring down the house, either at home or an away game."
Getting into a couple guys in the Six-foot-Three to Six-foot-Four range, we go to Salesian for Cal-bound Jabari Bird and again to Deer Valley for UNLV commit Kendall Smith. Starting out with Bird, it's hard pressed not to call him the best dunker in the Bay Area. I've seen Bird do some amazing things in the air, but I like him the most when he's jamming off alley-oops. Bird has a knack of locating the ball in the air and forcing it down no matter how off the ball is. Bird's dunks seem to be the most exciting of this whole group because he throws it down with such force, plus he's so athletic, it just looks awesome.
Smith is a similar size to Bird but a different dunker. Smith's got the ups but not like Bird. What Smith excels at is shoving it in your face. If he's matched up to an opponent and both start to jibber-jabber back and forth, you can expect a Smith dunk in the next few minutes. He tries to make it a point of letting you know he's better than you. A dunk is usually followed by Smith staring down who he posterized and asking them, “Where were you? Did you see that? I couldn't see you while I was dunking because I was so high in the air and you were so close to the floor.” Smith loves to let you know that he's better than you, and he's pretty much always right.