Gar­land Lake­view’s Smith a rim rat­tler

BOYS BAS­KET­BALL Smith, Myers and Gar­rett can throw it down with flair, power

The Dallas Morning News - - SPORTSDAY - By GREG RIDDLE Staff Writer grid­dle@dal­las­news.com Twit­ter: @DMNGregRid­dle

Gar­land Lake­view se­nior Zhaire Smith was the run­away win­ner in a sur­vey that asked area coaches to name the top dunkers.

Gar­land Lake­view se­nior Zhaire Smith is con­sid­ered the best dunker in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, but his coaches had to en­cour­age him to quit be­ing so mod­est when throw­ing it down.

“The sec­ond-to-last home game, against Naa­man For­est, he got a break­away and did a two-hand wind­mill,” Lake­view coach J.T. Lock­lear said. “Then he kind of pointed at the bench, be­cause we had been on him for so long about do­ing some­thing a lit­tle flashier.

“I would call Zhaire a ‘shy’ dunker. He cer­tainly can do some amaz­ing things, but his best dunks are in the flow of play, more re­ac­tion than plan­ning.”

D-FW bas­ket­ball coaches were asked to vote for the top three high school dunkers in the area. The run­away win­ner was the 6-4 Smith, who av­er­aged 20.1 points while shoot­ing 69.4 per­cent from the field.

“He’s got so much bounce and tim­ing that ANY­THING that comes off the rim at ANY an­gle is a pos­si­ble fol­low-up dunk,” Rowlett coach Ja­son Busch wrote in an email. “There are a lot of kids that have tremen­dous jump­ing abil­ity. Zhaire com­bines that with im­pec­ca­ble tim­ing. Never seen any­thing like it. He’s an alien.”

Smith’s dunk­ing abil­ity is cer­tainly out of this world, as are the tal­ents of se­niors Jor­don Myers of North Crow­ley and Kansas signee Mar­cus Gar­rett of Sky­line. Myers placed sec­ond in the coaches’ vot­ing, and Gar­rett was third.

Smith said he doesn’t prac­tice dunk­ing much. He draws in­spi­ra­tion from high­lights of Toronto Rap­tors star DeMar DeRozan, as well as two for­mer NBA Slam Dunk Con­test cham­pi­ons.

“I usu­ally go on YouTube and watch Vince Carter dunks, be­cause I’m a two-feet leaper,” Smith said. “Vince Carter and Do­minique Wilkins.”

Myers watches clips of DeRozan, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant be­fore prac­tices and games and tries to em­u­late them. Gar­rett likes James be­cause “he dunks hard.”

Lake­view stopped run­ning al­ley-oop plays for Smith be­cause op­po­nents guarded against them, but Sachse coach Dwight Wil­liams said Smith still dunked about six times on his team in two games. “This young man dunks the ball with a com­bi­na­tion of power and fi­nesse, much like Rus­sell West­brook,” Wil­liams said.

Speak­ing of triple-double ma­chines like West­brook, Gar­rett av­er­aged 16.5 points, 10.4 re­bounds and 9.0 as­sists in the regular sea­son be­fore lead­ing Sky­line to this week’s state tour­na­ment in San An­to­nio. Sky­line coach Paul Gra­ham said his se­nior point guard is a dif­fer­ent type of dunker than Des­mond Ma­son, the NBA Slam Dunk Con­test cham­pion whom he coached while an as­sis­tant at Ok­la­homa State.

“Des­mond Ma­son was more ath­letic,” Gra­ham said. “I think what makes [Gar­rett] a good dunker is how far he takes off and glides through the air and how hard he throws it down.”

In a video shoot for Sports­Day, Smith showed off a pump re­verse dunk, jammed home a wind­mill and punc­tu­ated the dis­play with his fa­vorite — the 360. He did all of that while dressed ca­su­ally in long pants.

“He’s such an ath­lete,” Lock­lear said of Smith, who is de­cid­ing be­tween sev­eral Di­vi­sion I of­fers. “I want to say it was the Arkansas coach. He said, ‘He makes one high-ma­jor, Di­vi­sion I play a game, where you’re just in awe.”

Myers and Gar­rett made their video shoots look like dunk con­tests. The 6-4 Myers threw a pass to him­self off the wall be­hind the bas­ket, caught it on the run, did a 360 and slammed it down one-handed. Gar­rett, listed any­where from 6-5 to 6-7, did one-handed dunks off a bounce pass to him­self and also off a pass to him­self off the back­board.

Tommy Brakel coached Wil­lie War­ren, who led North Crow­ley to a state ti­tle in 2008 be­fore play­ing at Ok­la­homa and briefly in the NBA. War­ren is North Crow­ley’s all-time lead­ing scorer. Myers is No. 2.

“His dunk­ing is a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent than Wil­lie’s,” Brakel said. “Wil­lie’s was so ath­letic and so ex­plo­sive. Jor­don’s is much smoother, and you don’t even re­al­ize you’re about to get dunked on un­til it’s too late.”

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