The dunk seen 'round the world

Hermiston Bulldog basketball players JJ Ross, left, and Riley Smith have gotten a lot of attention since they teamed up for a full-court alley-oop dunk on Jan. 25.

By Luke Hegdal

Staff writer

Call it skill. Call it luck. Or call it a cosmic confluence of events.

Regardless, Hermiston's own 6-foot, 2-inch point guard, JJ Ross, has captured the attention of sports fanatics everywhere thanks to a Jan. 25 dunk that was captured on video, and has since been declared the "High School Dunk of the Year."

It has since been viewed by more than 100,000 people on YouTube and was highlighted on ESPN's Sportscenter.

The dunk evolved from a set in-bounds press break when Riley Smith lobbed the ball from one end of the court to Ross near the other end. The ball bounced once before Ross caught it in midair for a one-handed throw-down that brought the home crowd to their feet.

"I was kind of mad at myself because I overthrew him," Smith said of the play.

Ross remembers it a bit differently, however.

"(Riley) was like, ?You need to give me a ride home for that great pass I gave you," Ross said.

Most of the coaches on the bench were just hoping that Ross could manage to keep the ball in bounds. To have what looked like a blown play become a a national highlight clip is more than anyone expected.

"It's not very often you can get a high school kid on Sportscenter," said Hermiston coach Larry Usher. "It's a great thing."

According to Usher, however, Ross and Smith tried to recreate the play in practice with no success.

"It didn't work so good," Ross said.

But that doesn't seem to bother Ross or his teammates. Game day is what counts.

"It's just whatever the defense gives us, basically," Ross said of The Dunk. "If it comes, I'm going to take it."

As to the national spotlight?

"I think it might be a little bit too much attention," Ross said.

Luke Hegdal can be reached at

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