McALESTER — Growing up in Savanna, Tyler Inman spent many an afternoon watching dunk contests on T.V. and on YouTube online. He especially loved watching highlights of the 1988 NBA contest between Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins and then-Cincinnati player James White at the 2006 NCAA contest.
Watching all those highlights paid off Saturday, when Inman, a senior at Southwestern Christian University in Bethany, performed four perfect dunks and won the inaugural National Association of Basketball Coaches-National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Men’s Basketball Dunk Contest in Kansas City
“They really did it right at the dunk contest,” Inman said Wednesday. “They promoted it well, and the format was great. ... I hope they keep doing it, because it’s a really good way to showcase the NAIA’s talent”
Inman said the contest featured four NAIA athletes, each of who got two minutes to successfully perform two dunks. Each dunk would be scored up to 50 points, and the top two would advance to the finals, where they’d get two more dunks.
“I have a bunch of different dunks that I can do, but I had no idea what I was going to do when I was sitting in the chair (waiting),” Inman said.
Having competed in just two slam dunk contests before — and neither as big as the NAIA’s — Inman said he felt nervous before the competition. To help calm his nerves, he began the contest with his favorite dunk.
The dunk consisted of standing just to the right of the top of the 3-point arch, lobbing the ball so it bounced high in the air, running towards it and leaping after crossing the foul line, catching the ball with his right hand, transferring it to his left and finishing with an overhead slam.
“That’s a James White dunk, but he doesn’t do it off a lob,” Inman said.