Ohio State’s star slammer Sam Thompson won’t go to Final Four just for dunk contest

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State fans are going to have to enjoy senior forward Sam Thompson’s dunks while they last this month. The high-flyer from Chicago said Tuesday his dunks are for games only and that he won’t accept an invitation to the national college slam dunk contest held annually in the same city that hosts the Final Four.

Thompson sees it as as business decision.

"I’m either going to be playing or I’ll be here," Thompson said. "I’m not going to the Final Four to do a dunk contest.

"I want to play in the Final Four. I think we have an opportunity to be in the Final Four. If we don’t make it, I’m not going."

Thompson still has time to change his mind, of course, but his decision probably disappoints event organizers in Indianapolis as much as anyone else.

Thompson can fly. There’s evidence to back that up dating back to his freshman year — and there are examples all over the Internet. Ohio State Coach Thad Matta said Thompson is the best dunker he’s ever coached.

At the end of Tuesday’s news conference, Thompson flashed a smile and said of the dunk contest, "There’s no question I’d win anyway."

Thompson and his teammates have more pressing matters right now. At 10-6 in Big Ten play, Ohio State is tied for fifth and a half-game out of fourth place in the conference headed into Wednesday night’s game at Penn State. The Buckeyes close the regular season Sunday at home vs. Wisconsin. The top four finishers get byes to the quarterfinals of next week’s conference tournament.

Thompson averages 10.3 points per game, third on the team and is 51 points from surpassing 1,000 for his career. He’s scored a bunch of them above the rim.

"I know for a fact that if somebody gets a steal at the top and there’s a dunk to be had at the other end, there’s nobody in the country that’s faster than me," Thompson said.

Thompson has played in 140 career games, the fifth-most by any Buckeyes player.

"We knew he was really, really athletic but he’s definitely been the best (dunker) I’ve ever had in that regard," Matta said. "We saw him in high school take off from about the free throw line and miss. The ball flew up to the rafters. He can really do some impressive things."