Navy senior forward Tom Lacey will graduate on May 26 — “not that I’m counting down or anything,” the political science major said Friday — before commissioning into the Marine Corps and heading to The Basic School (TBS) at Quantico in late June. Between now and then, he’d like to get the chance to throw down a few sick dunks in San Antonio ahead of the Final Four.
Lacey is one of 16 college seniors in the Dark Horse Dunker contest, which will determine the final entrant in next month’s College Slam Dunk & 3-Point Championships. The winner, to be decided by a fan vote over four week-long rounds, will receive a trip to San Antonio to compete against seven other college seniors in the March 29 contest that will air live on ESPN2. Navy has never had a participant in the dunk portion of the contest, which began in 1989, though Courtney Davidson and Kara Pollinger competed in the women’s three-point contest in 2004 and 2014, respectively. Former Georgetown forward Rodney Pryor won last year’s dunk contest.
The 6-foot-7 Lacey, who first dunked during the summer before his sophomore year at Seton Hall Prep in West Orange, N.J., is matched up against Iona’s TK Edogi in the first round, which runs through Tuesday at 12:59 p.m. ET. If Lacey advances, he will face off with the winner of the fan vote between Oklahoma City University’s Walter Rickett and the University of West Florida’s Darryl Tucker. The semifinals run from March 1-8, and the final round of voting will begin on March 9, with the winner announced on March 16. Fans may vote once per day, per device. As of Friday afternoon, Lacey had a 60 percent to 40 percent advantage over Edogi.
Lacey is averaging 8.9 points and 6.6 rebounds for the Midshipmen (18-10, 9-6 Patriot League), who have won five of six entering Saturday’s game at Boston University. Lacey has 12 in-game dunks this season and 37 dunks in his career, the best of which are featured in a video on the Dark Horse Dunker site.
“Last year against Lafayette I had a good one over top of two kids, and then I had a windmill in the same game and that was pretty cool,” Lacey said, recalling some of his better moments above the rim. He said his best dunk came in Dunk City of all places, during Navy’s loss at Florida Gulf Coast in November.
“Shawn [Anderson] passed it to me and I just jumped and was above the rim and above the guy and I put it down,” Lacey said. “I was ready for that to be a momentum swing for us, but we ended up losing the game. That one, I did it and I kind of surprised myself. I was running back and was like, ‘Did I just do that?’”
Lacey is a Knicks fan, but compares his dunking style to Nuggets forward and fellow New Jersey product Kenneth “The Manimal” Faried.
“I love him,” Lacey said. “He’s just a bouncy guy and doesn’t really do anything too flashy, but he’s just really explosive and he plays hard, with a chip on his shoulder. His dunks are nothing really special, but he just gets up to the rim quick and puts it down. I can definitely do some flashy stuff, and I think if I got a chance to go to San Antonio I could put up a good fight against some of these guys, but I’m more of a blue-collar type of guy.”
With three games remaining in the regular season, Lacey and the Midshipmen have a good chance to eclipse 20 wins for the first time since 2000. A Patriot League tournament title would give Navy its first NCAA tournament bid since 1998.
“Twenty-one wins would be great and it would be a nice check to put in the box, but our focus is really just to be playing our best basketball going into the Patriot League tournament,” Lacey said.
Update: Lacey won his first-round matchup and is facing Oklahoma City’s Walter Rickett in the second round.
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