High Schools

Dunk you very much: Basketball shot brings attention for 2 local players

tstevens@newsobserver.comJanuary 16, 2014 

High school seniors Carlee Clemons of Millbrook and Nubian Spann of Panther Creek are adjusting to life after ESPN’s “SportsCenter.”

Clemons has been on the sports television network’s highlights twice for dunks and Spann made his dunking debut last week. Defense and team play wins games, but dunking can make you a celebrity.

Spann estimates he has gotten more than 250 text messages and more than 1,000 comments through Twitter following the airing of his backboard-breaking dunk. Video of his Friday night dunk on YouTube has received more than 150,000 views.

Clemons said he still gets comments on his dunks, although the tape of his winning shot in a dunking contest was aired last summer. His dunk has more than 150,000 views, too.

“It’s been crazy,” Spann said. “I can’t sleep. Someone always wants to talk about it.”

Both players grew up watching the daily sports news cable television show and dreamed of making it on the air, but never thought it would be possible as high school players.

“You don’t get on it unless you’re in the league or something,” Clemons said, referring to professional sports.

Or, in their cases at least, you can really dunk.

Clemons made the show the first time for dunking four times in one game, despite being just 6-foot. He got on again last June by jumping over two 6-7 players during a dunking contest.

Spann got his few seconds of national exposure after making the first dunk of his high school career and shattering the backboard in the process.

Both players were surprised at how quickly their exploits were online.

Clemons had his four dunks in December 2012 during the Leon Brogden Holiday Invitational in Wilmington against Wilmington Laney, Michael Jordan’s high school. One of Clemons’ friends contacted ESPN via a Twitter account and the network tweeted back requesting video.

Clemons went to bed unaware he was about to receive national attention.

“I was asleep, but when I woke up I had all tons of messages,” Clemons said.

The network also picked up his dunk at the Basketball Elite Southeast Summer Showcase in Winston-Salem over a pair of stationary 6-7 players.

He first did a similar dunk during a school pep rally before the 2012 state championships when he leaped over teacher Cheryl Boswell. He also has done the dunk at school over a pair of teammates: 6-8 Rob Brown and 7-0 Jake Wilson.

Millbrook coach Scott McInnes said the one in Winston-Salem wasn’t Clemons’ best dunk, but it is the most famous.

Spann may be the most unlikely dunk star ever on SportsCenter. The 6-4, 190-pound forward had never dunked in a varsity game.

“Coach (L.J.) Hepp has always told me that a layup counts two points just like a dunk and layups are easier,” Spann said. “There have been times when I could have dunked, but I just went ahead and laid the ball in.”

But he hammered the dunk this time because it was the best shot. Juan Munoz lofted a alley-oop pass off a fast break and Spann soared to catch it and slam it.

Nubian’s father, Brian Spann, was quite a dunker at Franklinton High in the late 1980s. Spann, 6-6, 240 pounds, later won a dunking contest while playing at N.C. Central by leaping over four players on a dunk.

But his dad didn’t receive nearly the attention. Backboards aren’t shattered every day.

Nubian’s dunk came with a cost. The game was stopped and a new backboard had to be purchased. And there were cuts. Spann learned the dunk would be telecast while the Catamounts’ training staff was plucking glass fragments out of his neck. No one else was injured.

Spann said he had thought about smashing another backboard and, yeah, he said he’d like to do it again.

“But I think next time they may make me pay for the backboard,” he said.

Stevens: 919-829-8910

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