March 20, 2012
AUBURN - Auburn senior forward Kenny Gabriel will participate in the slam dunk portion of the State Farm College Slam Dunk & 3-Point Championships on Thursday, March 29 in Tulane's Fogelman Arena at 8 pm CT on ESPN prior to the Final Four in New Orleans, Intersport announced on Tuesday.
The 24th annual event will showcase the dunking and sharp-shooting talents of 24 of the nation's top college basketball players. Individual events in the State Farm College Slam Dunk & 3-Point Championships include: State Farm Women's 3-Point Contest, Hampton Hotels Men's 3-Point Contest, Pure Protein Battle of the Champions and Denny's Slam Dunk Contest.
"It is an honor because I never thought that I would be able to be in a dunk contest for college," said Gabriel. "I am glad that I got the opportunity to do it. I hope to go down there and win it. I'm starting to work on my repertoire now."
The final roster for the 2012 State Farm College Slam Dunk & 3-Point Championships will be available soon. Joining Gabriel will be Missouri's Marcus Denmon, Duke's Miles Plumlee, Northwestern's John Shurna and UNLV's Chace Stanback.
Gabriel averaged 12.2 points per game this season for the Tigers along with 7.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks as he was named Auburn's MVP. He ranks second in the SEC in blocks and eighth in rebounding.
For the first time in the event's history, fans nominated a player to the "2012 Dark Horse Dunker" competition by submitting a YouTube video to the official Facebook page's wall (facebook.com/collegeslam). These contestants ranged from high-risers at lesser-known schools to the last guy on the bench at Division I powerhouses. Each week for four weeks, the contestants competed in a bracket-style knockout competition.
Half the field advanced to the next round after a week of voting until, ultimately, the dunker with the most votes remained. The winner was James Justice of Martin Methodist College who now will test his skills against some of the nation's top college athletes. To find out more about the Facebook competition, visit: (facebook.com/collegeslam).
Alumni of the event include Gary Payton (Oregon State), Steve Nash (UC-Santa Clara), Allan Houston (Tennessee), Bobby Hurley (Duke), Michael Finley (Wisconsin), Wes Matthews (Marquette), and Aaron Brooks (Oregon). Other alumni include six current members of the 2012 Harlem Globetrotters, including last year's Denny's Dunk Contest winner, Jacob Tucker.
General admission tickets are $15, a Family Four Pack is $40 and groups of 10 or more can purchase tickets for $8 per ticket. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit collegeslam.com. Fogelman Arena's doors will open an hour prior at 7 pm CT.
The ESPN broadcast team includes Brad Nessler, Dan Dakich, Jimmy Dykes and Shannon Spake. The program will re-air numerous times on ESPN networks.