Home » Columns » Currently Reading:

The Incredible Dunker

October 7, 2002 Columns No Comments

Incredible Dunking has come back to Sacramento

by Nicholas Lozito

When most people lace up a pair of Jordan’s and take the court, they only “wanna be like Mike.”

Sacramento State’s Jameel Pugh on the other hand is often compared to the Chicago Bull great. Well, at least when it comes to dunking a basketball.

Pugh was tabbed the “World’s Greatest Dunker” by Slam magazine following his senior year at Sacramento’s Grant Union High School. Three years later, as a sophomore at the University of Massachusetts, he was ranked the No. 33 dunker of all-time by Slam.

Pugh was the second college basketball player selected in top-50 all-time dunkers list; James “Flight” White, now a sophomore at Florida was selected at No. 24.

“Being nominated to the 50 greatest dunkers was great,” Pugh said. “Everyone was so surprised and shocked, considering I hadn’t gotten the chance to show what I can do (while at Massachusetts).”

After averaging just 11.4 minutes and 5.3 points his sophomore year at Massachusetts last season, Pugh has transferred back to Sacramento to play for the Hornets. The Oakland, California native felt that he was better suited for Sac State’s fast-paced style of basketball, where he could make better use of his superior athleticism and dunking ability.

Pugh emerged onto the Northern California basketball scene in his junior year of high school. After being cut his sophomore season at Washington High School in Fremont, Calif., Pugh transferred to Grant High, where he led the Pacers to the state championship game his senior year.

Over the following summer, Pugh made a trip with his AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) summer team to France, where he won a slam dunk contest within his age group. Among Pugh’s competition was a seven-foot center from Nigeria.

And the legend had begun.

“It amazes me how many people have heard about some of the teams I’ve played for, or some of the dunk contests I’ve been in,” Pugh said. ” It’s almost like folklore.”

Pugh says the best dunk he’s ever pulled off was in practice, when he tossed the ball off the backboard, caught it in mid-air, and put it between his legs before throwing it in the net. The 6-foot-4, 225 pound shooting guard also performs Vince Carter’s elbow-in-the-rim dunk with ease.

Pugh has drawn many comparisons to Carter, but he models himself after his favorite player Dominique Wilkins, who was 30 slots ahead of Pugh at No. 3 on Slam’s list.

While the junior transfer embraces all his dunk accolades, he feels that the time has come to prove that there is more to his game than just rim-rattling.

“Right now I feel people have only seen a small portion of what I can do,” Pugh said. “It’s kind of scary knowing that people haven’t seen the best parts of my game.

“Every time I’ve been given time on the court I’ve produced.”

Unfortunately, Pugh will have to wait until the 2003-04 season before he can produce for the Hornets. NCAA regulations require that D-I transfers must sit out one season.

The No. 33 dunker of all time is also currently nursing a tear in his patella tendon, which is keeping him off the court until January of 2003.

Meanwhile, Pugh has been helping Hornet coach Jerome Jenkins with recruiting.

“Jameel is a big part of why recruits are coming to Sac State,” Jenkins said. “I am really pleased that he wants to be a host and take the recruits out.”

Pugh has also been working in the weight room, a place he has almost made a second home since coming out of high school. Since his days at Grant High, where he weighed 190 pounds, the Hornet guard has added 35 pounds of muscle.

“At 225 pounds in college, I feel I can impose my will on anyone who is guarding me,” he said.

While Pugh might be confident in his individual abilities, getting a Sacramento State squad that has gone 14-41 over the past two seasons on the winning track will be a tougher task.

“The goal I have for this team is to win a league championship and advance as far as possible in the NCAA tournament,” Pugh said. “I think this team can beat top-level teams.”

Jenkins feels Pugh’s dunking reputation, coupled with his experience at Massachusetts, will make the guard a big part of what the Hornet coach feels is a new era for Hornet basketball.

“What you can expect from Jameel is a player getting up and down the court, and bringing some excitement to Sacramento,” Jenkins said.


Comment on this Article:

Subscribe to Hoopville

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hoopville


Hoopville Archives

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Coaching Changes

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Hoopville Podcasts

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – February 22, 2018

February 22, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we start with floor issues in the Big East and an important NCAA ruling that was upheld. Then we go on to the Big 12, where Wednesday night had a new twist, as well as the ACC and how it shapes up along with no team going undefeated in conference play this year.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – February 7, 2018

February 7, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about a big sweep in the SEC, look back on the wild Saturday, then talk about a Big Ten showdown and some undefeated teams in conference play.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – January 31, 2018

January 31, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about a lot of what has happened in the ACC and SEC, including the Big 12/SEC Challenge, whether or not Kentucky is turning a corner, as well as the story at Michigan State.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – January 26, 2018

January 26, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about a wild night in the Big Ten, adversity and a quiet leader in the ACC, what to make of Kentucky and look ahead to the Big 12/SEC Challenge.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – January 18, 2018

January 18, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about big road wins for a few teams, including a couple of bluebloods that looked destined for losses, as well as an unsettled Big Ten beyond one team, an SEC where you shouldn’t pay attention to bracketologists, and the problems with a proposed earlier start to the college basketball season.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

Lincoln captures Hamilton Park title

August 15, 2017 by

For the first time, a public school won the Hamilton Park Summer League, and they were led by a big effort from a junior point guard in the title game.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Boston Shootout

June 12, 2017 by

Some news and notes coming from the second and final day of action at the 2017 Boston Shootout, where the host program provided plenty of talent, but so did a program that produced a team that beat them.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Northeast Hoops Festival

April 11, 2017 by

The Northeast Hoops Festival helped bring in the new spring travel season in New England, and we have notes from some of Saturday’s action.

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.