Jacob Tucker's dunk case goes viral
Jacob Tucker wasn't after fame when he recently uploaded a two-minute, 14-second video of himself throwing down an assortment of dunks on YouTube.
Tucker, a 5-foot-11 guard from Division III Illinois College in Jacksonville, Ill., wanted to make a case for an invitation to the NCAA dunk contest at the Final Four in Houston.
Tucker, who has an estimated 50-inch vertical, and his friends uploaded the video around 9:30 p.m. on Friday. The link was passed around by his friends and soon spread to the Illinois College community. By noon the next day, the view count was around 600.
From there, it started making larger rounds through e-mail, Facebook and Twitter. Twelve hours later, the counter had skyrocketed to a few thousand. With the help of Jim Rome mentioning the video on his ESPN show and other media further getting it out there, that number had grown to more than 816,000 by Wednesday afternoon.
The media attention continued on Wednesday morning with Tucker's appearance on ESPN's "First Take."
"It's been kind of surreal," Tucker said on Tuesday. "It happened really fast. I haven't had much of a part of it. Everyone has been pushing it. It's been neat to see that.
"We have been in contact with the company who puts together the contest some. They said they likely won't know for sure for another week when they see who is going to be in it. It's difficult to put someone else other than a Division I player in the contest because of publicity reasons. It's hard to put someone they don't know. For the publicity reasons, all this stuff has helped me a lot."
The video was put together over the past few months following Illinois College's practices. Tucker said almost all of the dunks were completed in one or two takes.
If Tucker were playing for a Division I school, he would likely be a no-brainer for the contest based on what he does in the video. He jumps over teammates and dunks. He has a partner throw the ball off the side of the backboard and dunks it. Someone throws it off the back of the glass and he dunks it. He leaps, puts the ball around his waist and dunks. He throws down a windmill, a 360-degree windmill, a variety of reverse dunks. And for his finale, Tucker leaps, spins 360 degrees, puts the ball between his legs and crams it with his right hand.
"A lot of the dunks are dunks I've seen people try before or ask my friends to come up with ideas," said Tucker, who averaged 14.8 points his senior season at Illinois College. "The one off the side of the glass is one I saw Blake Griffin try in the dunk contest.
"The one that is special to me is the last one, the 360, between the legs. Ever since I was a freshman or sophomore in high school, I've always been joking about it and never thought it was possible."
That became reality for him, and he hopes the slam dunk contest will be, too.
"I'm pretty hopeful," Tucker said. "I'm not going to say I'm 100 percent definitely going to get in.
"I believe I could [compete in it.] The NCAA dunk contest, it says is for the best dunkers in college basketball, and I think I could possibly fit into that category. That's not for me to decide or determine. I just wanted to put it out there some of the things I can do."
Scott Powers covers high school and college sports for ESPNChicago.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.