Ball travels to Indy for Dark Horse dunk contest


The winners of the State Farm Dark Horse Dunker competition have been announced. After weeks of voting by fans and students, both West Texas A&M University’s very own Antjuan Ball and Tarleton State University’s Davene Carter are headed to Indianapolis, Ind. for the 2015 State Farm College Slam Dunk and 3-Point Championships on April 2. The contest will be broadcast nationally on ESPN.


The voting for this year’s Dark Horse contest saw the largest voting turnout since the competition began in 2011. The voting turnout saw more than 17,000 votes, with Ball edging past Carter by just 27 votes. The margin was so close that Intersport, Inc. and State Farm decided to send both players. ESPN holds the final say on if a 17th spot will be added to the dunk contest. If not, Ball and Carter will participate in a dunk off in front of the judges.


Ball, senior from Collirene, Ala., said the experience has been very humbling and this accomplishment isn’t just about him.


“I just want to thank God first of all for giving me the opportunity to make it this far,” Ball said. “I also want to thank my family and the WT family, which have provided great support. This has been a humbling experience, and I realize more and more each day that this is not just about me, this is about this school and this community.”


This isn’t the first time Ball has been in this position. He has had several different accolades in his career throughout college and in high school, such as being named to the Lone Star Conference All-Defensive team at the conclusion of this season. In 2011, Ball was the winner of the National High School Slam Dunk contest in Houston. He was also named a second team all-state player in Alabama.


Before attending WT, Ball attended Shelton State Community College in Tuscaloosa, Ala., where he had a standout career. In the 2012-13 season, Ball led the Buccaneers to the Alabama Community College Conference championship and an appearance in the NJCAA National Tournament, with the team finishing 25-9 overall. He averaged 11.7 points and 6 rebounds per contest while shooting more than 60 percent from the floor.


In his career with the Buffs that stretches back to 2013, Ball has been an integral part of the team. In the 2013-14 season, he led the team in field goals made, rebounds per game, blocks per game and averaged the most minutes per game. In the 2014-15 season, Ball ranked second on the team in field goals made, first in rebounds and first in field goal percentage.


He has seen this opportunity as a way to put WT on the map, which has been his main goal along with letting people know that WT exists.


“Some people might not know WT exists, you know, or about Maurice Cheeks. I just want to put WT on the map and add some more history,” Ball said. “I just want to get on ESPN and show what I’m capable of.”


Head Coach Tom Brown also said the dunk contest is a really special thing for Ball. He also believes that Ball has a real chance of winning it all.


“It’s a really special thing and an honor,” Brown said. “I think he’s really got a chance to go out there and win against those big boys. He’s such a special kid, gets good grades and has a great personality and will do anything for anybody.”


Ball will get his chance to go and compete against those “big boys” from larger, Division I schools during Final Four weekend and will be looking to do something big and, ultimately, put WT on the map.