COLUMBIA – Zou Crew members Skyler Schlick, Stephen Smith, Quincie Kelly and Josh Witmer had no idea what they were getting themselves into by choosing to sit in the first row at Mizzou Arena on Friday night for Mizzou Madness.
The new event featured scrimmages for both the Missouri men's and women's basketball teams as well as a skills and dunk contest. But the four fans had no idea they would be involved in a dunk.
Missouri players Stefan Jankovic, Jordan Clarkson, Phil Pressey, Earnest Ross and Keion Bell were the participants in the dunk contest.
Early on in the contest, guard Michael Dixon showed off his passing prowess when he launched a ball from above the player's tunnel to Clarkson's hands for a thunderous dunk.
He tried to rack up another assist while holding the ball above his head for Clarkson to windmill it into the basket, but Clarkson couldn't convert.
"The one thing he did very well in the dunk contest was the first pass, it was right on the money," forward Laurence Bowers said.
Pressey, Jankovic and Ross were all eliminated in the first round of the contest, but Pressey, who didn't make any of his dunk attempts, did not look too disappointed and flashed a smile to the fans.
In his first dunk of the second round, Bell leaped, cradled the ball under his leg, and jammed the ball into the basket, landing with his eyes wide open and his tongue out.
After a string of failed dunks by Clarkson, it was Bell's turn again, and he motioned for Witmer, Schlick, Kelly and Smith to get off the bleachers and onto the court.
He lined them up like a set of dominoes, with Schlick, who is 6 feet, 5 inches tall, the first to be jumped over. Missouri guard Jabari Brown, also 6-5, was next, then Witmer, Smith and Missouri guard Corey Haith. Kelly, the only woman in the group and the shortest, was last in line, closest to the basket.
Schlick said he was afraid because he would be the first hurdle for Bell to clear, but Witmer seemed even more concerned for his safety.
"I was pretty pumped up when I first stepped on the court," Witmer said. "But I was hoping he wouldn't fall and land on my neck and squash my back."
With his props in place, Bell lined himself up and attempted his dunk. He cleared the six-member group but didn't get enough momentum to hit the rim.
With 15 seconds remaining, Bell hastily told the group to look down at the floor and he lined up again. This time, Bell pushed off Schlick's shoulder with his hand, spread his legs wide and smashed the ball loudly through the basket.
Afterward, Bell said the secret to successfully executing the dunk is in gaining everyone's trust, noting how he had to corral Kelly closer to the other members of the group.
Kelly said she wasn't hesitant, though.
"I didn't think he was going to bring us out there if he couldn't clear us," Kelly said.
Bell said he has been dunking over people since the 10th grade and had even dunked over seven people in the past.
"I've done seven before, but I'm a little older now and I want to protect my knees," Bell said. "But I could probably squeeze one or two more people under there."
As Schlick returned to his seat with his fellow Zou Crew members, he looked up for a moment reliving the experience in his head. For Schlick, only one thing could top participating in a dunk contest with Missouri players.
"That'd make everything if I ended up on the SportsCenter Top 10," Schlick said with a grin. "It'd be awesome; it'd be amazing."