Phoenix, Grand Canyon University host 29th annual Intersport College Slam Dunk contest

ASU guard Torian Graham showcased his skills in the 3-point competition

The NCAA men’s basketball Final Four wasn’t the only thing causing a buzz around the Valley this weekend. For the first time on Thursday, Intersport's 29th annual Slam Dunk contest was hosted by Phoenix at Grand Canyon University where the event sold out GCU’s 7,000 seat arena.

The all-star night featured three different events: the men’s and women’s three-point shooting contest and the slam dunk contest. 

Arizona Cardinals legend Kurt Warner, current Cardinals Tyrann Mathieu and Patrick Peterson, former Phoenix Sun and current GCU head coach Dan Majerle and ESPN personality Jay Williams, all judged the Denny’s Slam Dunk Championship.

In past years, the event has highlighted the talent of many stars including Danzel Valentine, ASU head coach Bobby Hurley and Steve Nash.

The first event featured was the Great Clips Men’s 3-point Championship. ASU guard Torian Graham was one of two Arizona players to participate in the contest. Graham was knocked out in the final round by GCU point guard Dewayne Russell.

“It was a good atmosphere,” Graham said. “It sucks that I had to go against a GCU guy, but overall it was a good experience.”

During his introduction on the court, Graham was booed by GCU’s student section. 

“Villain, I like that, but it’s too bad I had a bad day," Graham said. "It’s all love.”

Iowa’s Peter Jok went on to win the 3-point title, beating Russell in the final.

Then the women showed off their shooting skills in the Marines Women’s 3-point contest.

Some of the biggest names in women’s college basketball were featured on Thursday, but none stole the show like Kansas State’s Kindred Wesemann. In the semi-final round, Wesemann scored an impressive 26 points out of a potential 30 and went on to win the women’s 3-point shooter title.

Concluding both 3-point competitions, Wesemann and Jok went head to head to determine the true 3-point champion.

The dual featured drama and ended in an 18 point tie. However, tie-breaker rules determined that Wesemann reigned supreme and was declared the winner. 

Many slam dunk contests across the nation have entertained fans to new heights and the Denny’s Slam Dunk Contest was no exception. Dazzling dunks left fans' jaws agape. 

Perhaps the most exciting dunk was performed by East Tennessee State’s A.J. Merriweather, but he would not go back to Tennessee on top. Georgetown’s Rodney Pryor took home the trophy after beating Merriweather in the final.

This event was one of the many big-time sporting events that the valley has hosted but was the first of its kind for Phoenix.

“I love this, it is not only huge for college basketball, but for GCU as well,” said Josh Sanders, a GCU student. “This is going to put the (GCU) Havocs on the map.”

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