Eyes on dunk contest at Scarlet & Gray Showcase

Freshmen look to make the biggest splash

Thursday’s Scarlet & Gray Showcase is meant to be a crowd pleaser. Fans and students can meet the players, take in a UNLV legends game, and get a look at the 2012-13 team for the first time in an intra-squad scrimmage.

But the event generating the most buzz after practice on Tuesday was obvious: the dunk contest.

The dunk competition is a new addition to this year’s Showcase, and with good reason, as the Rebels have a number of high fliers lining the roster.

A crowd pleaser, indeed.

“We added the dunk contest this year because, No. 1, we want to reach out to the fans and show them how much we appreciate their support,” said coach Dave Rice. “So we want it to be a fun night.”

As of Tuesday night, the lineup for the dunk contest was tentative, with only senior Anthony Marshall and freshmen Demetris Morant and Anthony Bennett as locks to participate. Sophomore Khem Birch and junior Roscoe Smith (redshirt) are also possible participants.

Marshall threw down perhaps the Rebels’ best dunk last season, driving the lane against North Carolina and slamming it home with two hands while drawing a foul. But he wasn’t annointing himself the favorite.

“In high school I used to practice my dunks,” said Marshall, “but since I’ve been in college I really don’t dunk like that anymore. So I figure the freshmen coming in have been practicing theirs in high school, so they’ve probabaly still got a routine.”

Bennett and Morant are both 6-foot-8 forwards who have shown that they can finish way above the rim. Bennett is more of a power dunker, while Morant has been known to get creative with his dunks.

Fellow freshman Katin Reinhardt is going with Morant.

“If Meech is in it, Meech is winning it,” Reinhardt said. “He’s got the most dunks on the team. Meech and Anthony Bennett will probably go at it. It’ll be a fun event.”

Last week, Bennett joked that he was a lock to win.

Whoever wins, the event is definitely going to be worth watching. A real crowd pleaser, if you will.