Postseason awards continue with a salute to the best Tar Heel dunks of the season. Tar Heel Blog has a number of postseason awards that you can catch up on, including:
While Tar Heel Blog joins the rest of Tar Heel Nation glued to their phones to see if there are any updates on the comings and goings on the roster, let’s take a breather from the nerves and stress of what could be, and focus on the beautiful things that definitely were.
The 2020-21 Carolina basketball team was not a vintage dunking team, despite the considerable height in the post. This team lacked the dynamism of the Carter-Jamison years, a swingman with bounce like Tokoto or Hairston, or the springy fury of a Brice Johnson. Volume of dunks on this year’s team was lacking.
But the dunks that did happen were memorable, mostly because they were so rude. This year’s squad had a nasty habit of dunking on and around defenders, posterizing fools, and giving Carolina juice when they needed it the most. Let’s take a look at the five best.
5. Walker Kessler vs. Duke
Carolina runs good action on the wing, and Caleb Love drives the baseline, looks too deep to make an attempt at the rim, but makes a nifty bounce pass to an incoming Day’Ron Sharpe. You’d be forgiven if you thought Sharpe would bring the pain here, but he takes off a little too far from the basket, and is challenged by Patrick Tapé. The ball takes a soft bounce off the rim, and Matthew Hurt thinks he’ll have an easy rebound. Instead, he gets a put-back dunk dropped on him by the trailing Walker Kessler.
Don’t say he never did anything to make us smile.
4. Day’Ron Sharpe vs. Louisville
Steals often lead to great dunks. Day’Ron attempted to pull a James Michael McAdoo, but was too deep when he made the pass-denial steal. Fortunately, fellow freshman R.J. Davis is there to assist him. Figuratively, and unfortunately for Louisville guard Charles Minlend, literally.
A quick give-and-go ends with Day’Ron catching one right on top of Minlend’s head, and the Tar Heel screams as if he were shot, then rudely swings his legs over Minlend’s shoulder in order to display dominance. Minlend even shoves Day’Ron a little as he retreats on defense, prompting the Tar Heel to hold his hands up to show innocence, although everyone saw what he did to that Cardinal. The police will undoubtably question regarding a murder.
3. Armando Bacot vs. Florida State
What a four-point swing!
Caleb Love hustles on defense to block a sure-fire dunk by Scottie Barnes from behind. The ensuing run-out by Kerwin Walton sees the Seminoles scrambling to set their defense as Carolina breaks. They are out of sorts after surrendering a huge halftime lead.
Bacot sprints to the restricted circle, waiting for a pass. R.J. Davis surveys, probes, and when the FSU defense steps towards him, the freshman point guard drops a clever bounce pass to Bacot. The sophomore forward takes one step, explodes to the rim, and dunks over three Seminoles, kicking his legs out like Van Damme.
2. Day’Ron Sharpe and Leaky Black at Syracuse
I still can’t believe UNC lost this game.
Roy Williams has had Boeheim’s number since the booger-eating head coach from Syracuse begrudgingly made his way to the ACC. Dealing with Syracuse’s 2-3 zone requires patience and good feeds to the post, particularly bounce passes to avoid outreached arms. Leaky does an excellent job feeding Day’Ron, who takes his bounce pass and dunks on Dutchman Jesse Edwards, while Quebecois Quincy Guerrier fails to block him from behind.
Syracuse attempts to shake off the shame of Day’Ron’s dunk immediately, but when forcing a pass to Buddy Boeheim, Leaky jumps the pass and ever so easily takes it in for a one-hand jam. Four points to the Tar Heels in the span of 15 seconds, which against Syracuse’s zone, is super impressive,
Again, I can’t believe Carolina lost that game!
1. Caleb Love at Duke
It could only be this one.
I promise that I’m not celebrating Caleb Love on the heels of his announcement that he’s returning for his sophomore season. This dunk was the nastiest of the season. It came against Duke at Cameron. It was before Carolina had gotten its mojo, and the direction of the season was very much in doubt. And the time and score of the game left everything up in the air. Caleb Love’s dunk began settling the game in UNC’s favor.
Carolina basically blew up Duke’s “Horns” action and stripped the ball from Goldwire. Caleb Love was going to power the ball through the rim and do his patented arms-down flex to humiliate Duke’s bench as he retreated to defend. Jaemyn Brakefield got the silly notion of trying to block Love from behind, but instead fouled him.
This dunk was so vicious and nasty (listen to the “pop!” noise the ball makes when Love punches it) that there are several angles to show:
This dunk had lasting consequences:
NEWS: Jaemyn Brakefield to enter transfer portal. pic.twitter.com/Go2ae1R5kY— Duke Men’s Basketball (@DukeMBB) March 24, 2021
What are some of your favorite dunks of the season? Let us know in the comments below, and if you have videos to share on Twitter, tag @tarheelblog so we can see them!