Entrants for dunk of the year candidacy in basketball at all levels came to a close at roughly 8:43 p.m. on Nov. 16. The contest itself did, as well.
By Scottie Bordelon
In only his third game in an Arkansas uniform after transferring from Missouri, 6-10 forward Trevon Brazile vaulted toward — if not to — the top of the list of best in-game dunks in program history. Ninthranked Arkansas coasted to its third win of the season against South Dakota State, and Brazile became a viral sensation with an emphatic punctuation on the night. With 2:01 remaining in Arkansas’ 71-56 victory over the Jackrabbits, Brazile caught a pass at the top of the key from freshman guard Derrian Ford. Seconds later, he semi-jogged in Ford’s direction, appearing as if he would complete a dribble handoff. But he didn’t. The rest of the play can still be be found in short videos all across the Internet and on the timelines of many of the most high-profile names on social media. Brazile, who finished the night with 13 points and 10 rebounds for his second double-double in three games as a Razorback, made Arkansas’ final bucket of the game as memorable as any in recent memory, dunking over South Dakota State freshman forward Broden Lien with one hand. Bud Walton Arena became a madhouse in the moments that followed. Fans of all ages mimicked the players on the Razorbacks’ bench and tapped the tops of their heads. Many others reverted to the surrender cobra position. Arkansas forward Kamani Johnson, too, tapped the top of his head in the on court celebration then pointed in Lien’s direction. He was assessed a technical foul. “I did tell the team in the locker room like, ‘Let’s not give two points right back by getting the technical,’” Arkansas coach Eric Musselman said. “Like, let’s act like we’ve seen that play before — not that we ever have — but let’s act like we have.” The clip of Brazile’s dunk quickly made the rounds. It was picked up by national outlets and brands such as SportsCenter, Bleacher Report and Sports Illustrated, and re-posted by the likes of Magic Johnson, LeBron James and Kendrick Perkins. An NBA analyst for ESPN who in 2012 was on the wrong end of a dunk by then-Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin, Perkins tweeted, “God Bless America.” James re-posted the video to his Instagram story for his 137 million followers and offered the reaction, “My GOODNESS!!!!!!” “That was truly one of the most impressive, if not the most impressive, in-game dunk I’ve ever been a part of,” Arkansas assistant coach Gus Argenal said on the Locked on Razorbacks Podcast with John Nabors. “It just shows the versatility that TB has, and, again, how he’s just growing from game to game from Europe until now. “Now he’s putting those kinds of moves in live play, and we’re really excited for him and us, obviously.” The official Twitter account of the Maui Invitational also quote tweeted a video of Brazile’s dunk and added the line, “Make sure this is packed in your suitcase for Maui.” Musselman, when asked for his viewpoint of the dunk, said he learned the clip went viral from his daughter, Mariah. Freshman guard Anthony Black, on the bench at the time of the dunk after finishing with 5 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals, said he came out of his seat — just like the rest of the players on the sideline. He, too, briefly made his way onto the court at one point. “The dunk was pretty crazy,” Black said. “That’s all I’ve got to say.” Junior guard Davonte Davis, who added 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting and 3 assists to go with 2 rebounds and 1 steal, said he was told by Musselman to get off the floor in the aftermath of the dunk. “It shows who he really is and his potential,” Davis said. “He can do things like that all the time, so as the season continues to go on, he will continue to make plays like that.” Beyond the poster dunk and instant notoriety that ensued, Brazile provided 29 high-quality minutes for Arkansas. The Razorbacks outscored the Jackrabbits by 11 points in his run. He averaged 14 points and 10 rebounds per game after three outings. Musselman also gave the transfer props for his offensive output as the Razorbacks work to develop chemistry in the absence of freshman guard Nick Smith, a consensus All-SEC first-team selection in the preseason. Brazile, who improved to 4 of 9 from three-point range after hitting his lone attempt against South Dakota State, came off the bench for the third consecutive game. It is a role that is suiting him just fine. “I mean, to think that you can bring a guy off the bench and he can have the impact that he has…with him, our game elevates,” Musselman said. “I even thought the first half, I told the staff coming out that he didn’t play enough in the first half, and that was on me.” Brazile already has multiple 10-plus rebound games for Arkansas. He had one in 25 games at Missouri last season. According to KenPom data, Brazile, at the end of the win over the Jackrabbits, held a defensive rebound rate of 26.7% this season. He had also grabbed 8.6% of the Razorbacks’ misses when on the floor. “TB, he’s been playing really hard and focusing on getting a lot of rebounds,” Black said. “I don’t think he rebounded like that overseas, but he made that a focus of his.”