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Two former Arizona Wildcats will throw it down in NBA’s Slam Dunk contest

Derrick Williams

Derrick Williams dunks over Detroit Pistons forward Jonas Jerebko last month. Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE

The NBA slam dunk contest isn’t what it used to be, and the potential biggest draws beg off the competition, but there are reasons for Arizona Wildcats fans to watch this year.

A pair of ex-Cats — Minnesota rookie forward Derrick Williams and Houston third-year forward Chase Budinger — make up half of the field for the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest, which will be held Feb. 25 in Orlando.

Rounding out the fresh faces in the field are Indiana’s Paul George and Iman Shumpert of the New York Knicks.

This link from NBA.com has highlight videos of each of the four competitors.

Williams will also compete in the Rising Stars Challenge, a game matching first- and second-year players. That game will be held Feb. 24 in Orlando.

Williams is averaging 7.5 points and 4.2 rebounds. Budinger is averaging 8.9 points and 3.7 rebounds.

The NBA held its first Slam Dunk competition in 1984, won by the Phoenix Suns’ springy Larry Nance, and the early years were dominated by superstars Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins.

The appeal of the event faded to the point where the NBA scrapped it for two years before bringing it back in 2000. The defending Slam Dunk champ is Blake Griffin.

This year’s event will feature only one round, consisting of three dunks, with the winner being decided by fan voting — either on NBA.com, Twitter or text message.

CAPTION: Derrick Williams threw in this left-handed dunk on Wednesday night.
CAPTION: Chase Budinger was second in the dunk contest at the 2006 McDonald's All-America Game
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