* On Saturday, February 5, the greatest in-game dunk by an Auburn player took place at Stegeman
Coliseum in Athens, Georgia. Now, you may be thinking that the Chris Porter follow-up jam against
LSU in 1999 will forever be the top dunk. Before I debate that, I thought it
good to come up with a (totally subjective) definitive list of the top 15 Auburn in-game
dunks (for which there is video evidence). This automatically rules out practically every pre-
1980s dunk, and also has the unfortunate recency bias of the YouTube era. There just aren’t that many
Auburn basketball clips on YouTube that were recorded before the 1990s, and the vast majority are
from after 2010. Of course, even if we had video of every Auburn basketball game ever, many
would still mock my choices as ridiculous, lacking objectivity, etc. In other words, this is a great topic for
me to give my opinion on. Now, on to the list:
15. Isaac Okoro vs Colgate, November 18, 2019
The future fifth overall pick in the 2020 draft showed his skill with the steal, breakaway, and powerful
flush against the toothpaste team.›
14. Chris Morris vs Kentucky, January 31, 1986
It is a shame that there isn’t more film of Morris at Auburn on the internet, because he was a well-known rim-rocker in the NBA in the 90s. This gem, in Rupp Arena against the #8 ranked Wildcats, is still a beauty to behold.
13. Kenny Gabriel vs Mississippi State, February 18, 2012
While many of us want to forget a lot of those ugly Auburn basketball years, we’d be wrong to forget the dunk machine known as Kenny Gabriel (who holds the only non-Walker-Kessler triple-double in AU history). This wraparound dunk with the and-1 in the face of MSU’s Brian Bryant was one of his most memorable.
12. Charles Barkley vs Alabama, March 3, 1984
Bobby Lee Hurt, #34 for the Crimson Tide, was the purported match for the Round Mound of Rebound. Chuck showed him very quickly it was unwise to play with the big boys.
11. Chuma Okeke vs Kentucky, February 23, 2019
On their way to their first final four appearance, the Tigers introduced the Bluegrass State to Mr. Okeke and his blow by/lean in dunks. The Wildcats could just look on in awe.
10. Charles Barkley vs UAB, December 2, 1983
The Tigers lost an overtime thriller to the Blazers that day, but Sir Charles was still able to assert his dominance over #24, Raymond Gauce, who made the unfortunate choice of trying to make the block at the rim.
9. Jared Harper vs Xavier, November 19, 2018
The Auburn team wasn’t just in Hawaii for the beaches in 2018. As they took down Xavier in OT in the Maui Invitational, our diminutive PG Jared Harper (listed at 5’10”, which is accurate when he stands on a brick) proceeded to break down the Musketeer Defense and deliver an in-your-face slam to the 6ft 6inch #13, Naji Marshall.
8. Chris Porter vs Ole Miss, February 9, 1999
Fellow AU alums from the 90s well remember the pinnacle of the Cliff Ellis years, when the Tigers rose all the way to #2 in the nation. We will never forget the rim-rattling, bone-shaking high altitude antics of Chris Porter. Most of his dunks avoided elegance, instead opting for sheer two-handed power. This sweet Doc Robinson alley-oop from half-court against the Rebels was one of his most memorable.
7. Jaylin Williams vs Tennessee, February 7, 2020
In what turned out to be a COVID-shortened year, the 2020-21 team showed the potential that blossomed the next year. Devan Cambridge (more on him later, obviously) and Jaylin Williams served up several notable flushes, including this one against the 25th ranked Vols. Jaylin was stuck at the free throw line without any good options, so he created one with the self-assist off the backboard. It happened so fast everyone almost missed it!
6. Kyle Davis vs Saint Joseph’s, March 21, 2003
The oft-forgotten Marquis Daniels led 2002-03 Tigers went to the Sweet Sixteen, losing a nail-biter to eventual champion Syracuse. Along the way, they dismissed the 7-seed St. Joseph’s. Kyle Davis delivered multiple throwdowns, including this Porter-esque follow up jam that caused a collective gasp from the crowd.
5. Kenny Gabriel vs LSU, January 17, 2012
KG was runner-up in the 2012 NCAA Dunk Contest. He deserves his own highlight reel — oh wait, here’s one. His best jam was a follow-up one-handed slam at LSU that hushed the crowd and sent the AU bench into a frenzy.
4. Devan Cambridge vs Syracuse, November 26, 2021
Speaking of Syracuse, this year’s Tigers got some revenge almost two decades later with a blowout victory against the Orangemen. Along the way, Wendell Green. Jr served up the alley-oop assist to #35, who with typical Devan Cambridge flair caught the ball in mid-air and rocked the rim with a sweet reverse.
3. Bryant Smith vs Ole Miss, February 9, 1999
Chris Porter wasn’t the only one serving up monster dunks in the late 90s on the Plains. In the same game vs Ole Miss mentioned above, Doc Robinson dished out another alley-oop from half court, and the versatile lefty Bryant Smith had the nerve/skill/talent/timing to catch it and jam it home in reverse fashion.
2. Chris Porter vs LSU, February 6, 1999
I was still in Auburn for this, but had to listen to this game on the radio because I was out of town. I will never forget the LSU announcers going on and on about the follow-up windmill one-handed jam that made the crowd erupt into a standing ovation that lasted 45 seconds. One of the LSU announcers said it might be the greatest dunk he’d ever seen. Of course, I couldn’t wait to see highlights. They did not disappoint. Do yourself a favor and watch.
It is safe to say that this is the most celebrated dunk in Auburn history. Just look at what Joe Medley had to say in the Anniston Star.
So, why isn’t this dunk #1? Let me begin by saying that rating the best vs second best dunk feels a lot like the MJ vs LeBron. The minute you begin to compare you find yourself deriding a superhuman athlete who accomplished things we mere mortals could never dream to do. There is no right answer. Except that the answer is MJ. And even though Porter’s dunk is Auburn legend, when you go back and look at it, you can see that Cambridge’s dunk was very slightly better. I really wrestled with this decision, but if I try to apply some objective criteria such as skill, power, athleticism, then I think Cambridge comes out on top. The skill to catch a lob off of the backboard is matched by the skill it takes to catch a rebound, whose trajectory no one controlled, and slam it home. Pretty much all of Porter’s dunks were explosive, with extra rim-shaking for effect. But Cambridge’s dunk, while delivered by a slimmer player, had the extra oomph to equal Porter’s power. Moving on to the third category: athleticism. Both men showed incredible athletic ability, but when I watch Porter’s dunk today, I realize that he didn’t jump any higher than many of his other dunks. Porter himself said it wasn’t his best dunk. Cambridge’s head is closer to the rim, and his catch came on a full sprint. See for yourself…
1. Devan Cambridge vs Georgia, February 5, 2022.
Now that I have cleared that up (and I am sure I have convinced all my fellow 90s AU folks), we can begin to celebrate the Cambridge Off-the-Backboard-Oop with as much fanfare as we have Chris Porter’s bionic flush. Also, please don’t hate me.
* Dang it if Cambridge didn’t go off and deliver another ridiculous dunk Tuesday, Feb 23, 2022 vs Ole Miss that belongs somewhere in the top 10. The follow-up with the left hand (remember, he is right handed). Let’s admit it — as long as Devan Cambridge wears a Tigers uniform this list will be subject to change at a moment’s notice.
Michael Strickland (’97) is Associate Professor of Theology at Amridge University, and he attempted to be a walk-on in Cliff Ellis’ inaugaural season at Auburn. He failed miserably. He tweets at stricm3, which was his old Auburn email address.