CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - North Carolina will be represented on every level in the 2019 NBA Dunk Contest during All-Star Weekend.
From a Fayetteville native to college stars to a young rookie for the Charlotte Hornets, North Carolina will not go without representation in the contest.
The participants in this year’s contest include Miles Bridges, Dennis Smith Jr., John Collins and Hamidou Diallo. Three of these players have connections to North Carolina.
On the most local level, Dennis Smith Jr. is a Fayetteville native who played high school basketball in Fayetteville and played college basketball at North Carolina State University.
In high school, Smith led Trinity Christian School to a state championship. In 2015, he was named Basketball Player of the Year for North Carolina.
In college at NC State, Smith played one season and was named ACC Rookie of the Year, second-team All-ACC and a member of the ACC All-Freshman team.
This is Smith’s second-consecutive trip to the dunk contest after finishing as the runner-up to 2018′s winner, Donovan Mitchell.
On the collegiate level, John Collins played college basketball for Wake Forest University, where he was named ACC Most Improved Player and first-team all-ACC.
On the professional level, Miles Bridges is a rookie for the Charlotte Hornets. In the 2018 NBA drafted, Bridges was originally selected 12th overall by the Los Angeles Clippers, but was traded to the Hornets.
Great dunking isn’t particularly anything new for North Carolina. A few past dunk contest winners and three of the greatest dunkers of all time have North Carolina connections.
Hornets owner and NBA hall of famer Michael Jordan is often revered as the greatest basketball player of all time but is also one of the best dunkers in history. A multiple-time dunk contest winner, Jordan played his high school basketball at Laney High School in Wilmington and his college basketball at the University of North Carolina.
But he’s not the only UNC alum to be widely-considered one of the greatest dunkers of all time. Vince Carter, whose 2000 performance is one of the most memorable dunk contests ever, played his college basketball at the University of North Carolina.
Another all-time great dunker is hall of famer Dominique Wilkins who is known as the “Human Highlight Film” and played high school basketball in Washington, North Carolina. He is widely considered one of the greatest dunkers in NBA history.
John Collins, who is teammates with Vince Carter on the Atlanta Hawks, spoke on asking Carter for tips and even mentioned Wilkins, who spent most of his career with the Hawks.
“I definitely asked for a lot of tips from Vince about the Dunk Contest, as well as Dominique. So I’ll definitely use those two guys as sort of like cheat sheets or whatever just to hopefully get an extra edge for tomorrow,” Collins said.
Spud Webb, who played at North Carolina State University, won the dunk contest in 1986.
John Wall, a Raleigh native who played high school basketball in Garner and Raleigh, won the dunk contest in 2014.
But it’s not just North Carolina, as the winner of the first NBA dunk contest was from South Carolina and played for Clemson.
In 1984, Larry Nance, from Anderson, South Carolina, won the inaugural NBA Dunk Contest after defeating legendary hall of famer Julius “Dr. J” Erving.