Dunk city: Would lower rims help increase interest in girls basketball?

Kristine Anigwe was the lone female participant in the dunk contest at the McDonald's All-American Game this year (Photo: Brian Spurlock, USA TODAY Sports)

Kristine Anigwe was the lone female participant in the dunk contest at the McDonald’s All-American Game this year (Photo: Brian Spurlock, USA TODAY Sports)

In volleyball, women play on nets that are eight inches lower than in the men’s game. This allows the women to play above the net in much the way their male counterparts do.

Given how that has worked, why not lower the rims several inches in women’s basketball, allowing females to play at or above the cylinder in much the way the guys have done for decades?

Geno Auriemma, who has coached Connecticut to 10 national titles since 1995, has advocated lowering rims – anywhere from seven inches to a foot, leaving the exact number open for discussion – for at least three years, and he spoke about it again during this year’s Final Four.

But judging from the responses of some of the top high school girls’ basketball players in the nation, changing the height of the rim would be too radical.

“I wouldn’t like (the change),” said 5-foot-8 guard Laura Stockton, a Class of 2015 Gonzaga recruit and the daughter of NBA Hall of Famer John Stockton. “You grow up on a certain hoop, especially for people who have been playing for a while. It would be weird.”

Faith Suggs, a 6-foot-1 guard and a 2015 Duke recruit, agrees with Stockton.

“I love the game the way it is,” Suggs said. “It would be awesome to be able to dunk, but I would be against (lowering the rim). I like it to be equal to the men. The ball is already smaller.”

McDonald’s All-American Sophie Cunningham, who is heading to Missouri, said being able to dunk might help girls get more attention for their athleticism.

“Girls get excited when other girls can dunk,” she said. “And the guys will say, ‘That’s not even a good dunk.’  But that’s impressive! Guys don’t understand because they have the huge athletic ability, but girls are athletic, too. Sometimes I think we don’t get that credit.”

Katie McWilliams, a 6-1 guard and a Class of 2015 Oregon State recruit, is undecided.

“I don’t like the idea because it would change everyone’s shot -you would have to adjust to that,” she said.

“But also I really want to be able to dunk. I think a lot of girls probably want to dunk, too. I think more people would watch women’s basketball if we could dunk.”

MORE: American Family Insurance ALL-USA Girls Basketball Team

A pair of 6-4 rising seniors — Ciera Johnson of Duncanville, Texas, and Tori McCoy of Champaign, Ill. – would be in favor of a change for personal reasons. With their height, they would figure to collect numerous dunks with a slightly lower rim.

“I would like to see the rims at 9-foot-3 or 9-foot-5,” Johnson said. “That would be exciting.”

Destinee Walker, a 5-9 guard and a 2015 North Carolina recruit, has a bit of a compromise solution.

“I think it would be cool to lower the rims at the McDonald’s game (and other all-star events),” Walker said. “I think that would add a lot of excitement.”

MORE: Meet the girl going up against the boys in McDonald’s All-American dunk contest

Kristine Anigwe, a 6-foot-3 Class of 2015 Cal recruit, entered the dunk contest this year at the McDonald’s game. The only girl competing against the boys, Anigwe failed to get a dunk down.

“In practice, I was dunking,” Anigwe said. “But (in the contest), the ball kept slipping out of my hands. It was disappointing.

“I would be in favor of lowering (the rims) to 9-5. That wouldn’t be so easy but not too hard, either. I think more people would pay to come see us play if we could dunk.”

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