PHOENIX (March 30, 2017) – Twenty five years after ETSU great Calvin Talford (Castlewood, Va.) captivated the country with his leaping ability and won the 1992 national dunk competition, the Buccaneers’ senior guard A.J. Merriweather (Jackson) did the same for three rounds of the 2017 Denny’s Slam Dunk competition Thursday night at Grand Canyon University, even trending on social media for a time late in the evening.
Earning perfect scores on his first three dunks of the night and leading the competition heading into the final round, Merriweather came up just short as Georgetown’s Rodney Pryor took home the title. Merriweather became the fourth ETSU player all-time to compete in the national dunk competition, joining former Bucs’ Talford, along with 2010 competitor Justin Tubbs (Trussville, Ala.) and 2016 contestant Deuce Bello (Greensboro, N.C.).
Merriweather opened the competition by honoring Talford, wearing a shirt with the former Bucs’ No. 24 and name on the back. His reverse dunk brought the crowd to their feet and the fellow student-athletes in the competition rushed the court. The 6-foot-2 Merriweather then followed that dunk with two more powerful slams that also earned perfect scores in the semifinals.
In the final round, Pryor completed an impressive between the legs dunk off a bounce, setting the stage for Merriweather’s final attempt. Merriweather tried to complete a dunk he had connected on during the NCAA Tournament practice session two weeks earlier, a dunk which had gone viral on social media. However, he missed on both attempts and was unable to complete the dunk, which opened the door for Pryor to take the title.
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