Former Trojans excel during All-Star Weekend

Former USC basketball players shined brightly during the 2010 NBA All-Star Weekend.

High-flying rookie DeMar Derozan of the Toronto Raptors competed in the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest on Saturday. DeRozan earned a position in the Slam Dunk Contest by defeating Clippers guard Eric Gordon in the NBA’s first-ever Dunk-In on Friday.

In the first round, contestants had two dunks judged by a panel of former NBA star dunkers. For his first dunk, DeRozan did a between-the-legs reverse-dunk that earned him a score of 42. For his second dunk, DeRozan caught a pass from teammate Sonny Weems off of the side of the backboard, did a windmill, and dunked the ball on the other side of the basket, earning the only perfect score of the night, 50, from the judges.

DeRozan’s score on his first two dunks propelled him into the finals against New York Knicks guard Nate Robinson. For his first dunk in the finals, DeRozan jumped over the 6-foot-6 Weems, and caught an alley-oop pass that he stuffed through the net. In his final dunk, DeRozan started his dunk in the air from the back of the key, displaying how far he could jump.

Robinson narrowly defeated DeRozan by earning 51 percent of the vote, which was decided by text messages and online voting from fans. It was a record third Slam Dunk Contest victory for Robinson.

In an interview prior to Slam Dunk Contest, DeRozan’s former USC teammate, Taj Gibson, had predicted that DeRozan would do well.

“You should expect a lot of different things from [DeRozan],” Gibson said. “Everyday in practice, he tried something new, so I am looking forward to seeing what he is going to pull out of his hat. I know he has a lot of tricks up his sleeves.”

Two Trojans also played in the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge Friday night. Gibson, a rookie with the Chicago Bulls, was able to compete against the sophomore team featuring his former teammate, O.J. Mayo of the Memphis Grizzlies.

Gibson scored six points and grabbed two rebounds, helping the rookies defeat the sophomores for the first time since 2002, 140-128.

Mayo started for the sophomores and had eight points and 10 assists.