COVINGTON, Ga. — Oliver Gerard was in eighth grade the first time he dunked a basketball.
It was during practice and he barely slipped the ball inside the rim, but it still counted. One year later, while playing for the Atlanta Hurricanes in the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), he slammed a ball home in the waning seconds of a blowout for the first in-game dunk of his career.
Gerard’s skill set was raw, but the 15-year-old was already capturing the attention of spectators with his agility and vertical range. Three years later, the Alcovy High School senior has developed into one of the most violent in-game dunkers in the state of Georgia.
He’s no longer satisfied with simply sending the ball through the net. Now, he wants to make a statement with each rim-shaking slam he produces.
“Now it’s just every time I go up, I’m going to try to dunk on you,” Gerard said this week. “That’s what my coaches tell me. They say, ‘Every time you go up, just try to dunk on them.’”
Alcovy head coach Mack Hardwick confirmed Gerard’s comment. Even when doing his best to focus on the Xs and Os rather than in-game theatrics, Hardwick couldn’t help but marvel at the tenacity with which his young star dunked on opponents the past few seasons. He believes it’s a combination of Gerard’s athleticism and drive that allows him to, quite literally, leap over the competition.
“I don’t think too many people in the state of Georgia can jump with him,” Hardwick said.
The senior forward will have an opportunity to test out that theory this weekend.
Gerard is one of three players from across the state who were selected to compete in the inaugural GHSA slam dunk contest at the Macon Centreplex on Saturday, March 7. The 6-foot-4 combo forward will be joined by Chapel Hill junior Micah Bell, who stands at 6-foot-3, and Jeff Davis senior Ja'Queze Kirby, who stands at 6-foot-6.
The event is set to begin at approximately 4:45 p.m.
“It actually means a lot to me,” Gerard said of being selected. “I’m very excited to see what the future holds. I’m just going to take it step by step.”
I am glad to say I got nominated for the Georgia State Dunk Contest 💯🙌🏽 BOUT TO GO CRAZY🆙🆙🆙— Oliver Gerard (@OliverGerard3) March 2, 2020
This event is taking place March 7th, 4:45 pm at Macon Centreplex@connect_hoops @PRO_Movement1 @OfficialGHSA @Alcovy_Sports @ATLRecruits @CovNewsSports @CoachAlexander8 @TeamStrap pic.twitter.com/DnHCUMfOCj
When the GHSA first announced the dunk contest in mid-January, Gerard received an influx of encouragement from peers and coaches insisting he try to get involved. Immediately intrigued, he submitted a video of one of his dunks and the voting process began.
The citizens of Newton County poured out endless support for the young student-athlete, sharing his nomination form on various social media platforms and pressing as many people as possible to vote for him. His highlight tapes went viral, his mentions blew up and he was elevated into somewhat of a local icon.
“It was actually crazy just seeing how much support and how much love I was getting,” Gerard said. “I was getting it from people at Alcovy, people at other schools, my friends and family. Even my grandma actually voted. It’s just been a blessing.”
Gerard advanced through each round of voting before officially being chosen as a finalist Monday morning.
For the past four years, he’s made a living off driving into the paint and throwing the ball down into the net with authority. He’s provided countless individuals with his entertaining theatrics — from catching an alley-oop off the backboard against Lamar County to acrobatically avoiding contact for a slam against rival Eastside.
Now, on the state’s biggest stage, Gerard will once again have the opportunity to leave spectators stunned in awe of his personal rebellion against earth’s gravitational pull.
“I’ve been working on it, and I’ve got some nice dunks. Y’all are going to see on Saturday,” Gerard said. “I’m trying to have fun because that’s what it’s all about, but I do want to win. That’s the goal. I’ve got these dunks and I think they’re winning dunks.”
Saturday’s dunk contest will take place between the Class AAAAAA boys’ state championship game and the Class AAAAAAA girls’ state championship game. No special props or gimmicks are permitted for use.
For full coverage of the event and quotes from Gerard, please visit CovNews.com.