Wednesday’s inaugural Rock The Rec event at the REC/IM will forever be known as the event where the Demarius Reed Slam Dunk Trophy became reality.
The trophy was named in his honor by Eastern Michigan University men’s head coach Rob Murphy.
“It was something I came up with,” Murphy said. “I mentioned it to our staff and they thought it was a great idea. We wanted to keep his name alive and he meant a lot to EMU Athletics.”
Murphy also talked about how some of the basketball players were friends with Reed.
“He was a close with a few guys from the team that are from Chicago.”
Before the dunk contest began, the crowd in attendance raised two fingers in the air in tribute to Reed.
Junior forward Karrington Ward wowed the crowd with some amazing dunks and won the inaugural event after surviving three elimination rounds.
Other participants included redshirt freshman guard Ray Lee, who was eliminated in the first round despite making an incredible 360 dunk.
Redshirt senior Glenn Bryant did not make the cut in the second round despite showing his raw talent with a thunderous dunk over fellow teammate and redshirt junior Mike Talley.
In the finals, redshirt senior guard Anthony Strickland fell short to Ward.
In a spur-of-the-second moment, Murphy took on an active role in the festivities as a way to get the crowd more involved.
“They asked me if I wanted to get involved more to get the students invested in our program,” Murphy said. “I tried to wake the [students] up because they seemed [to have no energy], but at the end of the day, it was still a success.”
Murphy also encouraged fans in attendance throughout the duration of the event to use the #rocktherec hashtag on Twitter and take any picture they deemed significant.
Women’s head coach Tory Verdi also made an appearance and urged fans to support both teams this upcoming season.
“You guys are our sixth man,” Verdi said to the crowd in attendance.
EMU Athletic Director Heather Lyke also made an appearance at the event and thanked everyone for coming out to the event and wanted students to come out and see both teams at the Convocation Center this season.
To wrap up the evening’s festivities, the men’s team split up into two teams— Green and Black and ran a 12-minute scrimmage which featured plenty of offensive highlights, including alley oops from Lee and Talley to Bryant and Ward, respectively.
The Green team came out on top 44-35 and Murphy loved the show on offense despite being a defensive-first coach.
“Well, you know I am a defensive-minded guy,” Murphy said. “I didn’t like to see all of the free offensive shots. At the same time, I did not want anybody to get hurt, so I wanted the players to show their athletic ability and at least get the crowd involved. They got a chance to see our size, length and athleticism, so it turned out well for everyone.”
Follow Eugene Evans on Twitter @GenoSportsguy.