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South Carolina commit wins McDonald’s All-American dunk contest

McDonalds High School All American Ashlyn Watkins (5) dunks on March 28, 2022 during the Powerade Jam Fest at the Wintrust Arena. (Photo by Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

South Carolina commit Ashlyn Watkins won the Powerade JamFest dunk contest, becoming just the third women’s player to do so. Reigning WNBA champion Candace Parker won the contest in 2004, while Fran Belibi, who now plays for Stanford, won in 2019.

“It feels amazing,” Watkins told ESPN after the contest.

On Twitter, South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley congratulated Watkins, saying she’s “been doing this in SC since she was in 6th grade so welcome world to what’s been our world.”

On her first attempt, Watkins scored a 59 out of 60 with a one-handed slam. Wearing a Candace Parker No. 3 Chicago jersey on her second attempt, she connected with the rim after bringing the ball around her back. She was one of three dunkers to make it to the final round.

After the first dunk of the final round, Watkins was in second. On her final dunk, she scored 60 to win the contest by one point, edging out Nick Smith Jr.

She revealed afterward that the alley-oop she used to win the competition was based on instinct.

“I didn’t know I was going to do that,” she said. “I just winged it really.”

Watkins is no stranger to the dunk, having first made heads turn in 2015 when she dunked during a game on a nine-foot basket. During the Jr. NBA World Championship in 2018, she dunked twice. Since then, she has made several dunks for Cardinal Newman in high school competition.

The 2022 SC Gatorade Player of the Year, she is Cardinal Newman’s all-time leading scorer (1,740 points) and rebounder (1,341) while adding 36 blocked shots. A four-time high school state champion, Watkins will join Staley and standout Aliyah Boston in Columbia next year.