Commentary

Girls players made to audition for dunk contest

Originally Published: March 25, 2008
By Glenn Nelson | HoopGurlz.com

MILWAUKEE -- For at least the second straight year, girls basketball players say there are double standards applied to those seeking to enter the Slam Dunk Contest which is part of the weeklong festivities around the McDonald's All-American Game.

Ashley Gayle of Las Vegas and Glory Johnson of Knoxville, Tenn., said they attempted to sign up for the dunk contest, won on Monday night by Demar DeRozan of Compton, Calif., but were told they would first have to audition. Johnson did not get to audition, and Gayle said her circumstances were unfair.

Gayle, a 6-foot-4 post headed to Texas, said she tried to make three dunks, though they were after a hard Sunday practice when didn't have her legs. She and West assistant Heidi Bunek-Hamilton (from Arrowhead High in Hartland, Wis.) said Gayle requested another chance before the Monday morning's practice. However, Sports America, Inc., the outfit operating the games, said names of participants had to be submitted on Sunday night, according to Bunek-Hamilton.

Ronnie Snook, sponsorship and events coordinator for Sports America, said it was standard-operating procedure to have all potential participants show they are capable of dunking the basketball. However, three boys who participated in Monday's event all said they never had to demonstrate any dunks to anyone.

"Everybody needs to qualify by showing us dunks at practice," Snook said. "(Gayle) tried some dunks and couldn't get to the rim. Both girls wanted to participate, but they weren't capable."

Asked again if Johnson, the 6-foot-2 forward headed to Tennessee, was given an audition, Snook said yes. Also asked again if every potential participant -- boy or girl -- had to audition, Shook said yes.

"Brandon Jennings wanted to compete," Snook said, motioning to the Los Angeles guard nearby. "He had to show us three dunks."

Scotty Hopson of Hopkinsville, Ky.; Iman Shumpert of Oak Park, Ill., and Elliott Williams of Memphis, Tenn., all told HoopGurlz.com they never were asked to audition.

Last year, Maya Moore, the Big East Player of the Year as a freshman for Connecticut; Kelly Cain, now at Tennessee, and Krystal Thomas, now at Duke, told HoopGurlz they were forced to "try out" for the dunk contest. They said they all made and missed dunks during the audition but were not certain of the criteria. None was allowed to compete. Dunks routinely are missed -- by boys -- during the competition.

The most well-known winner of the contest is a girl -- Candace Parker, now at Tennessee, who won the 2004 event.

East coach Sherri Retif, who coaches at the Germantown Academy in Fort Washington, Pa., said she and her staff were "surprised when Glory was getting on the team bus and said she had been scratched from the competition. We all encouraged her to do it. All the players were encouraging her to do it."

Johnson said the person who asked her to audition did not show up to practice for the audition, a fact Retif confirmed. The girls said they were told they had to have three different dunks. Several of their teammates, who were on the floor during the competition, said few of the boys knew what they were going to do until they did them.

The high-flying Johnson said she has three dunks -- one-handed, two-handed and off the backboard.

"I'd try to be original, but not do anything crazy," she said. "I'm upset, but I'm more upset for Ashley. She's the one who talked about doing it first."

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