Justin Coleman Dunk Contest
McDonald's All-American guard Ray McCallum did his best to lead his team to a win in the Kentucky Derby Festival Basketball Classic, but Louisville-bound Justin Coleman and 6'10 Gorgui Dieng proved too much for the White team to overcome, leading the Black squad to a 133-124 win Saturday night at Freedom Hall.
While Coleman, who won the dunk contest at halftime, provided the offense for the Black team, Dieng dominated defensively, blocking everything that came his way near the basket. The athletic Coleman scored a team-high 24 points, while Dieng added 15 points, seven rebounds and eight blocked shots. For his efforts, Dieng, who is being heavily pursued by Louisville, was named the Black team's MVP.
"A lot of the guards that drive in there don't understand the presence he has," Black team coach Rob Fulford said. "He can literally dominate a game at the defensive end. He has great timing. He's long and knows when to jump. He has so much upside."
"I know I'm after him pretty hard," Coleman said. "As soon as you get him a few touches he starts running up and down the court, blocking shots and that's what we had to do to [win] the game. That's what we did."
Coleman flourished in the up and down tempo, getting out in transition for easy baskets and stretching the defense with his outside shooting. Coleman made 10 of 18 shots, including 3-7 three-pointers. He also had five rebounds and four assists.
"This is his type of game," Fulford said. "He likes to get the crowd involved and did a great job in the slam dunk contest. I thought Justin played well. The thing people don't realize is how well he shoots the ball. He took over in spurts tonight on the offensive end. He has unbelievable potential and I'm glad he's coming to Coach Pitino to get it out of him."
Like Dieng, Coleman also took home some hardware, winning the dunk contest with one of the most original dunks in Derby Classic history. With a little help from Dieng, who kicked the ball toward the rim soccer-style, Coleman slammed home a perfect reverse dunk that drew loud applause from the Freedom Hall crowd.
"He put his own little spin on it when he kicked it off the back of his foot and I just put my little taste on it on the dunk," Coleman said.
Louisville commit Elisha Justice showed why he was named Kentucky Mr. Basketball. The 5-foot-10 point guard helped rally the Black team in the second quarter, hitting a pair of three-pointers and making two key defensive plays in transition.
"When you play hard things start to happen," Justice said. "I got in a rythem, started hitting a couple shots and I just got in the flow of the game and got going."
Justice finished with 12 points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals and proved that he's capable of competing with talented guards like McCallum.
Louisville signee Russ Smith added 12 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals, making 5 of 13 shots, including 2-6 three-pointers.
McCallum (undecided) scored a game-high 25 points and handed out seven assists to claim White squad MVP honors. Tennessee recruits Trae Golden and Jordan McRae pitched in 21 points and 14 points. Xavier-bound Justin Martin scored 14 points.
Photos by Darrell Russell. Visit Darrell Russell's website www.photographsbydarrell.com.