If memory serves, this all started 5 years ago in a dorm room full of young, straight men.
Sitting around, watching March Madness, someone noticed a particularly good looking player on the court. Off-handedly, they commented. Everyone agreed. The events occurred so long ago, the names and identities of the individuals involved have been forgotten by generations.
A few games later, the same occurrence. A comment from someone. Others agreed. Finally, when it cropped up a third time, it became a phenomenon and the March Madness All-Handsome Team was born.
For three years, this didn’t mean anything. Essentially, me and my buddies at college would nominate hunks and studs we saw during the games. There’s nothing sexual or romantic about it. We just have an affinity for aesthetically pleasing basketball players. We certainly prefer them to ugly ones. I think we all do. It’s the same reason Mac from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia loves Chase Utley. Well, maybe not in Mac’s case, but it is similar.
Last year, the All-Handsome Team came to the national stage. In our discussions, I decided to drop an email to Grantland’s Mark Titus, a college basketball junkie and former attempted walk-on to the AHT (All-Handsome Team).
He got a kick out of it and closed his March Madness mailbag with the question, though never answered it.
Now, with this blog up and running, I had no choice but to bring my readers the joy of the All-Handsome team. I assembled a group of handsome experts to weigh in and help determine this year’s squad:
Kevin, All-Handsome Team co-founder
Eddie, 4-time AHT committee member / Tom Brady obsessive
Stan, past contributor to Palestra Back and a terrific eye for handsomeness
Emily, my girlfriend and the only person here actually attracted to men
Now, before I move any further, let me lay out some criteria. The AHT is not about cute and it is not about hot or sexy. This is handsomeness. We’re looking for guys with politician jaws and the warm, cozy quality you find in an LL Bean catalog. It’s as much about the looks as Miss America is about looks, which is to say it’s almost entirely about the looks. We want you to be able to field and answer a question about Syria or the economy, but we care far more about how you’d look doing so than what you actually say.
But still, this year’s class is exciting and energetic. We’ll run through, with each committee member commenting and voting in their own way as to whether they feel the player should be included. Without further ado, here are the nominees for 2015 All-Handsome Team:
Kevin Pangos (Gonzaga)
Shane: The only place I can possibly allow us to start, my own personal mancrush and muse: Kevin Pangos.
For years while rooting for the Zags, I’ve not only enjoyed watching his play, but constantly referred to him as merely “Kev”. Because there is, without question, an alternate universe in which he and I hang out all the time, and following our games in the local adult wiffleball league, go splitsies on some meatball and chicken parm subs while watching Seinfeld reruns.
The best reason for me to bring him up, is that I think he’s a shoo-in for the team. As a flow-growing, hockey loving white Canadian named Kevin, he calls out to the All Handsome team’s co-founder, a flow growing hockey loving white American named Kevin.
Kevin, Co-founder of the All-Handsome Team: I’m not sure if it’s just me, but I normally have a natural predisposition to dislike anyone who shares my name. However, this is not the case with Pangos. Why? Flow. Lettuce. Lechuga. Pushback. Hockey-hair. Love the hair on this kid. Plus there’s something about his competitiveness that just does it for me. Eye of the tiger for sure. All around handsome guy. First teamer in my book.
Eddie: I don’t like his nose. And I don’t like that Shane is calling him Kev. You already have a Kev. Kev is Kev. In fact, he is THE Kev. This guy is not Kev, he is just some jabroni who plays for your precious Gonzaga. #SpiteDud
Emily: I like the guy, but he’s a little too “hockey” for me.
Stan: Emily, there is no such thing as “too hockey.” The more hockey the better. There’s nothing like a nice head of hair on the basketball court. I am still bitter about having to cut off my flow before intramural basketball season senior year for a crappy job interview. While Kev is rocking the best mop top of the year, he is also handsome for non-hair related reasons. His locks are enough to make him a lock for the squad.
Shane: How much am I allowed to say about Pangos? Did you watch the college 3-Point Shootout? He not only killed it, but had the announcers discussing his handsomeness on air. One of the guys on the mic (I want to say it was Dan Dakich) said his daughter texted him during the broadcast to talk about Pangos’ looks.
Sean Farnham, who’d make the All-Handsome Announcers Team, then said AND I QUOTE, “It’s all about that flow.” He then relayed Pangos telling him about the awkward period between short and the beautiful lettuce he’s got, but that it’s perfect now.
Pat Connaughton (Notre Dame)
Shane: Within SECONDS of the tournament tipping off, I had a text message from one of you about Notre Dame forward Pat Connaughton. Days later, I learned that one of you has met Connaughton and filmed/edited/beautifully narrated a video feature about him for a small town newspaper. So we’ll start there. Eddie?
Eddie, beach town journalist: Small town? Try 15-towns plus Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, but whatever.
Now this is interesting to me because I don’t recall being blown away by Pat’s looks when I met him all the way back in June of 2013. And, to be quite honest, he still isn’t doing much for me. He is certainly better looking right now with his current hair cut than he is with the buzz cut you can find him rocking in many pictures, but nothing can cover up the kind of dazed, confused and frankly dumb look on his face 98% of the time. You might not notice when he is playing basketball but it’s there.
The real turn off? Just search “Pat Cannaughton baseball” and behold some sort of heinous hybrid between a mullet and flow that the world should not have to suffer through. Pat, you may be a two-sport athlete, but there is no room for you on my All-Handsome Team. #Dud
(He was very nice and accommodating. Swell fellow, just not handsome.)
Stan: I agree with Eddie, I’m out on Patty C. He looks like Ethan Hawkes’ stoner second cousin on the ugly side of the family.
Emily: He’s attractive from the right angle, but not with that caterpillar on his chin.
Kevin: Time for me to defend my premature evaluation 12 seconds into the first game of the tournament. Pat hit a homerun in my heart right out of the gates. Maybe it’s because he’s a bro. Maybe it’s because he’s going to the MLB in about two weeks (he was clearly getting ready for preseason and already grew out the classic baseball player facial hair). Maybe it’s because he’s a guy I want to drink a couple Busch Lights with. Maybe it’s because I want to find a way to have his babies so my kids can have his athletic abilities. Maybe. Or maybe it’s the bad-boy vibe he gives off coming straight out of A-Town, MA. Everyone knows I’m a sucker for the bad boys, (we all remember the infamous Marshall Henderson debate of 2013). I stand by my decision. #brohandsome.
Max Heller (Oregon)
Shane: What is the All-Handsome team be without some benchwarmers? For my money, Heller is the best looking guy I’ve seen. So damn clean cut.
Eddie: Best looking guy you’ve seen? Do you know what good looking is? Here we have a classic dweebus. He is handsome in the same way a 15-year-old who pops his collars is handsome. #DUD
Emily: I don’t know about the most handsome in the tournament, but he’s got the best shot at being an Abercrombie model, which is saying something. Plus, given his playing time, he’s probably available. Modelling agencies, call the guy!
Stan: I’m not sure, but it looks like he is topping out at 5’2”. You can be cute at 5’2”, not handsome. Now if he decided to grow his hair out into some primo cheddar I could be convinced.
Shane: According to his bio (research!), Max is listed at 5’10. This is also his 3rd school (previously Arizona State and Loyola Marymount) and his major is undeclared. All factors to be considered.
Kevin: Max is a “nice” player for the handsome team. Brings the Goldilocks/Ronnie “Sunshine” Bass aspect to the table which is always good to see. His handsomeness won’t blow anyone out of the water but I could definitely make an argument for him.
Malcolm Brogdon (Virginia)
Shane: You may say Brogdon looks like the AND1 guy who had no face, but I say he has great skin and a thousand watt smile.
Eddie: Now we are moving in the right direction. His face may be long but it works for some reason. And that smile, well let’s just say it would’ve been nice if Virginia had survived a few more rounds. I’m going with #Stud.
Emily: What a smile! The next Barack Obama. He’s politician handsome.
Stan: Emily hit the nail on the head. If Malcolm isn’t a mayor someday, I will have to assume he was never allowed to run because he fell out of good graces with The Illuminati after UVA fell in the second round, causing Jay-Z, Madonna and Jeff Goldblum to all lose their respective office bracket pools. As of now he is my number 1. So suave.
Kevin: Malcolm has what you look for in a #stud. He doesn’t try to wow you with accessories or muscles, he let’s his face do the work and the rest comes naturally. Who doesn’t love a great smile?
Ron Baker (Wichita State)
Shane: The AHT is for everyone. Men, women, pre-teen Justin Bieber fans. Because of that, we have to discuss Ron Baker.
Eddie: Another child? Perhaps this is a good time to point out I like my men older. Give me some John Stamos or Dylan McDermott any day. Also, as someone who at 24 already has a ‘good old days’ when it comes to my hairline, I appreciate a good head of hair. So, Ron has the hair but he needs a cut to make it clean. Let me see that hairline son! Are you hiding something under that mop? Maybe that look was cool in middle school, but in college it makes you a #Dud.
Emily: Too much hair. I can’t process his handsomeness.
Stan: Remember when I said there was nothing better than a nice head of hair on the basketball court? Ron-Ron does not have a nice head of hair. It needs to go. Otherwise he is pretty vanilla. Good looking, but I wouldn’t call him handsome. Out on Baker.
Kevin: Nothing for me to add here. Just another candidate with some potential that fell short this year.
The Men of Maryland
Shane: Is Maryland the best looking team in the tournament? Maybe, but more than any other team, they have handsome balance. Three different guys can all make a case for a spot on the AHT. So instead of hashing them out separately, let’s lump them together. Boys (and girl), MFK: Melo Trimble, Jake Layman, Evan Smotrycz.
I’ll marry Layman and kill Smotch. Melo gets lucky since he looks like a character on Empire.
Eddie: This one is easy. I kill Melo because he has a dumb haircut. Bed Jake because he seems too aloof for a long term relationship. And marry Evan because he looks like a good cuddler. He would keep me warm through the harsh winters. And for the record that is Melo #Dud, Jake #Hunk and Evan # Stud.
Emily: Melo Trimble looks like a Wayans brother. Smotrycz looks like a guy I saw at the crepe truck during my lunch break today. Jake Layman is the best looking if you dig through Google images. So I guess, marry Layman, bed Evan, and kill Melo.
Stan: Em, I am not sure if your “guy at the crepe truck” is really helping anybody here. I can’t get behind Evan, partially because he has that dumb look on his face in that picture, but mostly because Layman and Melo are too damn handsome. Melo looks like he’d be more fun so I am marrying him, canoodling Layman and killing Evan.
Kevin: Don’t know how I didn’t realize this earlier, but I watched Smotrycz play ball all through highschool (He put up casual triple-dubbies against Winchester High on a regular basis). He also weighed about 120 lbs. in a wet t-shirt at the time, which is how I will always think of him. So naturally, he’s dead to me as a #hunk. Jake Layman looks glorious in the picture here, but after doing some research I was very disappointed. So I’ll settle to “laying” with Layman. Which means I’m happily marrying Melo by default, giving him my vote of approval.
Tod Lanter and Devin Booker (Kentucky)
Shane: From three Maryland guys to two from Kentucky. Part of me thinks the Disney channel already made a basketball movie starring Lanter, with Booker as his cool, comedic friend. In real life, Lanter never plays and Booker shows off his silky smooth jumper as much as his radiant smile.
Eddie: Tod, first of all, your name is missing a ‘D’. But, that’s not why we here and I am willing to overlook the dumbness of that spelling because that hair + those arms = #Hunk. Welcome to the team.
Devin Booker on the other hand, I don’t like his little eyes and for that reason, I’m out. #Dud.
Emily: Tod is very tan, but he’s best if you put a thumb over his face. (Editor’s note: I think this is how girls say things like “Butterface”).
I agree with Eddie on the Booker’s little eyes. They don’t play nicely with his eyebrows.
Eddie: Girls and eyebrows, am I right?
Stan: My friends and I had a serious debate on whether Devin Booker was too ugly for the 76ers to draft despite the fact that his sweet stroke is something the Sixers desperately need. I was stunned to see him included on this list. Could be the ugliest guy in the Final Four. OUT ON BOOKER.
Shane: Jumping in quickly to say that Booker would have no shot at the All Ugly Team. Even at the Four Four. I mean, I don’t want to name names, but…Frank Kaminsky, Denzel Valentine, and Tyus Jones. Anyway, enough about ugly, back to handsomeness.
Stan: Tod is a thing that exists? Who knew?! Whatever, that guy is handsome!
Eddie: Tod is a thing that shouldn’t exist, like Playmobil or American Psycho II: All American Girl starring Mila Kunis. What the what?
Kevin: “Oh my Lanter!” How about that bod on Tod? Unfortunately he just doesn’t do it in the face for me. Take his body, put last year’s Kentucky senior Jarrod Polson’s face on it, and you’ve got a #hunk. I’m in on Booker. I wouldn’t go as far as calling him handsome, but you can’t teach a smile like that.
Wesley Saunders (Harvard)
Shane: Oh, and he’s smart?? Give this man a cardigan and put him on the front of every magazine in America.
Emily: Mmmm. Not sure. That’s a great picture. Was that posed just for the All-Handsome team? The bicep bulge below the basketball is a nice touch. His Harvard education makes up for some of his flaws, but I’m indifferent.
Eddie: Another great smile taken from us too soon. Come on Harvard, you couldn’t spring another upset this year? I thought you guys were smart! (They are smart) And, Wesley, my sister works at Harvard so I am definitely going to be hitting up your campus under the ruse of paying her a visit but in reality I’ll be coming to see if we can be best friends. #Hunk
Stan: He has one of those contagious smiles that just brightens my day. I’m in on those eyebrows as well. And don’t get me started on his biceps. This guys has it all.
Kevin: My boy’s wicked smaht. I would consider Wesley a 5 tool player. Face, smile, bod, brains, and ….eyebrows? The fifth tool is still up for debate, but this #hunk has got it!
Corey Tobin (Georgia State)
Shane: I think this is the only photo of Corey Tobin on the internet.
Emily: I saw one other picture and liked it. Good by me!
Eddie: I am not attracted to Corey.
Kevin: Do you concur? I concur.
Stan: Corey is rocking a classic fluffy southern comb over and you really just gotta respect that. I’d bet some serious money that Corey was a better lacrosse player than basketball player, but stuck with basketball because it was his first love. He is doing well for himself with the understated stubble, he gets my seal of handsomeness approval.
Shane: No doubt he could, and does, pull off the “SEC Hair Flip”
Briante Weber (VCU)
Shane: We sadly did not get to see Weber play in this year’s tournament due to his ACL injury, but as the emotional leader of the team, cameras were still sure to find Briante smiling on the sidelines.
Eddie: Briante Weber looks like a fun guy in this picture. But, since he didn’t play in the tournament he also won’t be playing on my All-Handsome Team. #LeftOutDud
Emily: I like his headband (aka accessories) and he does seem fun, but too skinny for me.
Stan: Wow, Emily. That’s messed up. I am twice as skinny as Briante. I guess I am off Emily’s Delco All-Handsome squad…
Kevin: Briante seems like he would have been a solid player to consider for the squad if he had played. But I’m with Eddie on this one. I’d just as easily given my vote to his teammate Juvonte Reddic.
Thomas Walkup (SFA)
Shane: An underdog to make the squad, but I implore all of you to look past the beard. Look at him clean-shaven!
Eddie: In the legendary words of Keith Hernandez, “your beard is weird.” Other than that Thomas can Walkup my front steps any day. A good looking guy with red locks. You don’t get that everyday. Also, he was my favorite player to watch in the tournament so that helps. He was everywhere in that game. I sure wish they’d won. #Stud
Emily: Looks like he’d make a good quarterback. He’s my favorite so far. The beard doesn’t worry me because any good girlfriend could get him to shave that sucker. (Editor’s note: This is terrifying.)
Stan: Again with the stupid looking face. I imagine Walkup only being able to say his name, a la Hodor. Between that, his stupid beard and his dumb hair I am out on Walkup. (And yes, the main reason I am down on Thomas is because Eddie got to a Walkup pun before I could. I guess I will have to try to use a pun elsewhere)
Eddie: Emily, let the man have his beard! It’s his face! Is this why I’ve never seen Shane go full Grizzly Adams on the world? (And, yes I know I trashed his beard already.)
Shane: Eddie, you have the single worst beard in America right now. It’s awful. MOVING ON.
Kevin: Love the pun. Love the beard (on Walkup and Eddie). Love his delts. Walkup is #inittowinit. He’s a natural at this.
Ryan Arcidiacono (Villanova)
Shane: Here’s my issue with Archie: his first two years, he went with the tight buzzcut and looked like a teenager. This year, he simply grew his hair out. He’s a half decent haircut away from a surefire spot on next year’s team. But will he get the clue?
Emily: Between his love of basketball, his point guard play, his acne, and his current haircut, Ryan just reminds me of Shane in high school. I don’t think I can vote.
Eddie: He doesn’t look like Tim Tebow, but there is a Tebowness to him in the picture above. I don’t know why. So, because Tim Tebow is a clown, Ryan is a clown and I don’t think clowns are attractive. They just wear too much makeup. Sorry Ryan you aren’t making my team. #TebowDud
Stan: Is Ryan handsome? You ArcidiacoKNOW it! (BOOM! Nailed it.)
Eddie: Alright, if we are going to stretch the pun game I’m going to kill it by unveiling this gem I had in reference to the decidedly unattractive Pat Connaughton. Ready? Pat CANNAUGHT play ON my All-Handsome team. And that is how you kill a joke.
Kevin: Puns aside, Ryan seems like the kid I would want my daughter to go to prom with. He doesn’t know how #handsome he really is. But man, kid’s got potential.
Justise Winslow (Duke)
Shane: I got 5 bucks that during Justise’s NBA career, he not only appears in GQ, but guest writes a series of fashion and handsomeness tips.
Eddie: Average without the suit. Anyone can clean up nice. You’ve got to look as good on the court as you do off to play on my team. There may not be Justice in how I pick my team but it’s my team. #Well-DressedDud
Emily: I’m getting a vibe of Michael from The Wire, and I slept through most of The Wire. Minus the hair, he’s good in my book.
Stan: Justise will not be served until Winslow is included on the All-Handsome team (Can’t stop, won’t stop)
Kevin: Can’t agree with Stan more. J Dubs is a first-teamer in my books. I would definitely consider him for the all-hair team as well, but we can save that debate for another day. It doesn’t hurt that I have Duke winning my bracket (despite my dislike of the Blue Devils). Having a guy like Justise on the team makes cheering for them that much easier.
Coach: Jay Wright, Tony Bennett, Ben Jacobson, or Fred Hoiberg? Who ya got?
Eddie: Finally, some older men! They’ve all got great hair. Ben Jacobson is not handsome though. Fred, your hair is a little too light for me. Tony Bennett, I simply don’t trust you. So, the winner is Jay Wright. Good salt and pepper look, solid skin tone to match and a Clooney-esque disposition make him the head coach of my All-Handsome team. #Hunk
Emily: I’m taking Tony Bennett. He’s the best guy here, player or coach.
Stan: The coach for the All-Handsome team should be Jay, right? More like Jay WRONG! He should have applied some more sunscreen as a kid because he is too young to already start looking like a catchers mitt. Should Tony be the coach? You Bennett! (Ok, yeah I’m done. Sorry, guys…)
Kevin: Tough call here between Jay Wright and Tony Bennett. I think Eddie imagined Jay Wright dressed up as Batman and now can’t get that thought out of his head. Sorry Eddie, but I would prefer Tony Bennett as my Batman and the coach of my All-Handsome team. Whaaat a maaaan!
Eddie: Now picture Batman coaching basketball in the full suit and voice. Like Gotham, “this basketball team is not beyond saving.” Made your day. You are welcome.
Shane: Would it have been better if Bane’s big scene in The Dark Knight Rises took place at a basketball game instead of a football game? I just imagine Bane sauntering onto the court at the Final Four, grabbing the ball, flipping it towards the backboard and mumbling in his muffled voice, “Jordan for three!”. And now I can’t distinguish Bane from Marv Albert and we’re way off topic.
So the final 2015 All-Handsome Team is:
Coach: Tony Bennett
G: Kevin Pangos (Gonzaga)
G: Wesley Saunders (Harvard)
F: Justise Winslow (Duke)
F: Malcolm Brogdon (UVA)
F: Thomas Walkup (SFA)
Bench: Tod Lanter (UK), Max Heller (Oregon), Corey Tobin (GA State)
None of the Maryland guys stand out. Arcidiacono and Baker are snubbed again, though a haircut could make either a lock for next year’s team.
Our team may be small, but boy, are they easy on the eyes.
Fans, what do you think? Did we miss anyone?
Shane McNichol is the founder, editor, and writer at PalestraBack.com. He has also contributed to SALTMoney.org and ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @OnTheShaneTrain.
Kevin, Eddie, and Stan are friends of the blog who were nice enough to help out with this. Emily is Shane’s girlfriend and a good sport for not thinking this is weird.
If you have any suggestions, tips, ideas, or questions, email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.