Photo by Jason Mussell / Eagle’s Landing’s Isaiah Dennis showed off his dunking prowess at the 2013 American Family Insurance High School Dunk Championships at Greater Atlanta Christian School in Norcross on Friday.
It is a blessing and a curse, Isaiah Dennis says, to be known as a “dunker.”
On the one hand, it lets him entertain and invoke awe, like he did in winning the 2013 American Family Insurance High School Dunk Championships at Greater Atlanta Christian School in Norcross on Friday. Given two rounds and three dunks, Dennis out-shined seven other high school seniors from around the country.
The 5-foot-11 guard began by jumping over former Eagle’s Landing teammate Desmond Ringer and Kuran Iverson, another contestant from Fishburne Military School in Waynesboro, Va., who signed with Memphis. Which was no small feat — Ringer is 6-foot-10, Iverson is 6-foot-8.
Dennis infused more antics into his following dunks. He did a 360-degree windmill starting from behind the backboard for his second one.
Then he wrapped it up with more help from his competition. Dennis had another contestant toss the basketball off the side of the backboard. Meanwhile, Dennis leapt over the ball-rack, caught the ball and dunked it.
Each dunk earned perfect scores.
“It was amazing to be around this type of talent,” Dennis said. “This was a real good experience.”
It was the second dunk contest Dennis has won, but the first on a national level. He started gaining noteriety for his magnificent slams at summer leagues last year. The YouTube hits began after he participated in a dunk contest at the City of Palms Classic in Fort Myers, Fla., in December.
But college scholarship offers didn’t accumulate as quickly as those YouTube hits. Though Dennis averaged a team-high 16.2 points per game to help Eagle’s Landing win the Class AAAA championship, the guard’s only scholarship offer after the season was from Shorter.
Call it the “dunk effect.”
“I think it scares colleges away,” Dennis said. “I think people look at me like I’m not a real basketball player. That all I can do is dunk.”
Dennis eventually got an offer from Georgia State and verbally committed to the Panthers. Then Ryan Harrow, a former five-star point guard from Walton High, announced March 31 he was transferring from Kentucky to Georgia State.
Another potential challenge for Dennis, but one he relishes.
“People look at it kind of bad, but I like it,” Dennis said. “I love to compete. So I would love to compete against him and learn from from. He’s phenomenal.”
Since Eagle’s Landing’s historic season ended, Dennis has been in the gym five days a week at Eagle’s Landing Middle School where his uncle is athletic director, or Rockdale County High School where he meets with a trainer.
Dennis said Georgia State men’s basketball coach Ron Hunter has given him his offseason orders. His focus is on improving his pull-up jumpshot and reading ball screens.
His mission is to show everyone he’s more than just a dunker.
“I just keep working hard,” Dennis said.