The Best Dunker You’ve Never Seen. That’s the headline we used earlier this month when Jacob Tucker, a 5-11 senior from Illinois College in Jacksonville, Ill., posted a dunk video on YouTube in an attempt to get an invitation to the 2011 State Farm College Slam Dunk Contest. Today, the guard with a 50-inch running vertical is practically a household name. Beating out Lee University’s Larriques “Rico” Cunningham (who has a serious reel as well) in an online vote, Tucker will compete tonight in Houston.
“Obviously I’m really excited because this is the main thing I wanted to do out of everything that’s happened,” says Tucker. “I think the best thing has been the whole team effort and everybody showing their support and helping me out. The whole time – from the video to the online vote – it’s been a real team effort.”
But just because he got there, doesn’t mean he’s necessarily walking away with the crown. Tucker will compete against seven other players in the Denny’s Slam Dunk Championship – Gilbert Brown (Pittsburgh), Justin Burrell (St. John’s), Will Coleman (Memphis), Justin Tubbs (East Tennessee State), Billy White (San Diego State), Darnell Wilks (Cincinnati) and John Williams (UNC Asheville) – and will be judged by Karl Malone, Calvin Murphy, Courtney Lee, Chuck Hayes and two-time Pro-Bowl DeMeco Ryans (Houston Texans).
“I never thought I’d sign autographs for people,” says Tucker. “I never thought that would be me.”
If he wins tonight, he’ll be signing a lot more.
The 2011 State Farm Slam Dunk and 3-Point Championships air on ESPN2 at 9:00pm tonight.
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