Seven or eight years ago, in dorm room full of guys watching basketball, someone made an off-hand comment about how good looking one of the players was. A day or two later, it happened again. The next thing we knew, we were on the hunt for the most handsome hunks in the tournament.
Jump forward in time and I have gray hair in my beard and an extra 15 pounds on me, but more importantly, I have this blog. From a simple joke among friends to an annual internet tradition, the All-Handsome Team has become one of my favorite parts of March. While watching every single game, looking for potential studs to make the AHT adds a little extra spice to the Big Dance. When the first weekend was full of chalk, we still had something to keep us interested. Now with just four teams remaining, we can identify the best looking guys.
Let’s dive into the candidates for this year’s squad, with help from our committee. We’ve got the same cast of characters: three of my friends (Stan, Kevin, and Eddie) and Emily (my wife).
Corey Kispert, Gonzaga
Shane: Our only returning player from last year’s team has a good chance to earn his second nod to the AHT as just a sophomore. He’s got a tougher case this year, with a strong crop of hunks listed below and a not-so-great beard popping up the last few weeks. Why the watermarked photo chosen here? Because he’s not very photogenic and this is the best shot available. Watermarks be damned, there’s handsomeness to evaluate.
Emily: He looks good in action. Hits the “cheese” real hard in a professional photo, but I support him making the team. Like the skin tone. A nice olive.
Eddie: If you hop in your Deloreon head back to the 2018 version of this post, you will read about my patience with Corey. You will see that I thought Corey had shown some growth through the years and had the potential to really take off. Well, I am rescinding that opinion. The only growth this kid has seen is in his bulbous nose. I was really hoping to check in on Corey and see the growth I predicted, but as is often the case as March turns to April, those awesome predictions you had end up circling the toilet bowl. #RegressionDud
Kevin: Corey seems to be settling into the role of “perennial bench player who will have an occasional shining moment but always comes back to ground level”. He gets an A for effort and cheesing as Emily said, but that doesn’t earn you a spot on the AHT.
Stan: Much like his play on the court, Corey lacks consistency with his handsome game (I have no idea if this is true, I watch approximately 17 minutes of college basketball per year). Some nights he’s the beefiest cake in the bakery, others he’s flan. Just flan. I need a more well rounded effort from Corey, and I am just not seeing it. I think we have better options in this crowded crop of studs.
Joey Baker, Duke
(Baker is on the far right)
Shane: When the Duke freshman were put on the cover of Sports Illustrated, most people focused on the four guys that are going to be first round NBA draft picks this June. Not me. I sprung into action to learn more about Joey Baker. WHO IS THIS BOY? DID HE WANDER OFF THE SET OF MTV’S “ARE YOU THE ONE?” AND ONTO THE DUKE BASKETBALL TEAM? WHY AM I SHOUTING?
Stan: I love Are You The One. I grew up with Stephen from Season 4. Back in the day we always called him Steve. Joey is more handsome than Steve. Sorry, Steve.
Emily: I could see him on like, “One Tree Hill”. He’s not really Division I college athlete handsome. He’s more like, CW teen drama handsome. I prefer an athlete, but your call, friends.
Eddie: Welp. Now I feel old. This kid looks 14. So before I started typing this I had to quadruple check his age to make sure it was not a crime to describe his attractiveness levels and in doing so learned a fun fact from his player profile on Duke’s website. Joey has a sister named Annie. Thanks Duke! Back to the matter at hand, on that SI cover, I thought Joey was trying a bit to hard. He looks scrawny and weird in younger photos, but it turns out he’s 6-foot-7 and is putting on some muscle mass. That got me warming up to the youngster. Then I saw this GIF and I was all in. I felt like George Costanza getting a massage from a male masseuse when I saw that smile. #ItMovedStud #IWasNotInThePool
Shane: I should note at some point that Joey was supposed to redshirt this year, but gave it up midway through the season and has played, no joke, 18 minutes all year. Really good choice to burn the redshirt, huh?
Kevin: Shane, are we looking at Duke’s next Grayson Allen? I would guess based on his PT this past year no, but he’s got that “I go to Duke and play basketball” smile that screams Grayson so I had to ask.
Shane: Grayson only played sparingly as a freshman, but his 322 minutes that year make Joey’s playing time this year look like a fart in the wind.
Kevin: Either way, I’m glad we don’t have a minimum games played requirement for the AHT because Joey is as handsome as they come and should be a major threat for the next few years.
Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech
Shane: Maybe the best NBA Draft prospect to ever appear on the All-Handsome team nominations list. Apologies to Justise Winslow. The only thing holding Culver back is his age. He’s a sophomore but looks like a high schooler. If he stuck around Lubbock until next year for some reason, he’d be an all-time easy choice next year with another 12 months of aging and body bulking.
Emily: A young gun! He’s got stellar hair, captivating smile, and a handsome future ahead. I’d draft him. A great addition to any locker room. He’s just gonna keep smiling.
Stan: This really is a stacked year, a lot of beefycakes in the running. I have a feeling this is the strongest field we have ever had. This is all a long roundabout way of saying while I think Jarrett is handsome, I don’t know if I see enough here to put him on my five man squad. Unfortunately, Jarrett is too talented for this world and will be in the NBA next year. With a bit more seasoning he would be a captain on the squad for sure.
Eddie: I like Jarrett a lot. There’s a disarming quality to his smile. It makes me feel safe and warm. One could call it the womb of smiles. I also have to applaud him for some strong hair-change decisions. It appears in his youth he went with the short haircut and he looked any Average Joe out there on the street. With this longer look, he’s really come into his own. I would date him. #StrongHairStud
Kevin: I can imagine walking past Jarrett on campus thinking, “Wow, that is handsome dude,” only to realize minutes later he’s that guy who may be a top five draft pick, immediately skip the macro economics class I was headed to, find him, and convince him to be my best friend. Unfortunately I’m too lame to skip class so that never happened. Dollar bet this guy is dating one of the Kardashians in the next three years.
Shane: I’ll gladly take that bet because all the Kardashians are either 10 years older than Jarrett or already taken (#ThankYouBendall). Right, Em?
Emily: Yep, they are all currently accounted for. Except Khloe. And she’s 34 years old. And full of baby daddy drama right now.
Kevin: Oh, Khloe. She’s a real piece of work.
Blake Reynolds, Yale
Shane: Tough sledding for Blake. Not a ton of recent photos are available on Google Images and he’s not helped by his name. Any search for “Blake Reynolds” returns an avalanche of Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively pics. Even when I tried to find his Instagram page, I discovered it is private. Oh well. I still like his chances. He’s a Yale man and the Ivy League always fares well in this exercise. I’m willing to bet his parents didn’t have to bribe any admissions officers to get Blake recruited to Yale. Not with those cheekbones.
Emily: He has a Ken Doll vibe, but with a twist because we know he got into Yale. I love a good Barbie, always have and always will. He’s even got more arm definition than Ken normally would. Not sure what Blake’s core looks like, but I know Ken has six-pack abs.
Eddie: Emily, Ken and Barbie dolls perpetuate unrealistic body image stereotypes for children. Bringing them up in a blog that objectifies amateur athletes for nothing other than their looks is borderline criminal. I’ll never see you in the same light.
Seriously though, can we get a picture of his abs? I need to know what they look to make sure I make the right choice. I also wonder, is Ken attractive? I know Barbie is at the end of the day, but Ken, I am not so sure. I don’t think so, but he was great in Toy Story 3. #ComedyStud
Kevin: I’m still waiting on Blake’s response to my Instagram follow request but will keep you guys posted on the #abstatus if I get in. Fingers crossed! Blake is what I imagine when I think of a Yale Man and this pleases me. He is very handsome.
Stan: This kid looks like he would go to Yale. And his name sounds like too. I don’t mean these as compliments. I like a more blue collar vibe from my AHT. I’d rather have a guy who can change your tire and look good doing it than some boardroom phony. Dud City, Utah if you ask me. #SeizeTheMeansOfProduction
Everett Duncan, Vermont
Shane: We have never in five years of AHT history seen a glow up of this magnitude. Did Everett redshirt exclusively to get that snaggletooth removed? My word, what an unfortunate dental disaster. Now that he’s had it corrected, he’s a stone cold fox. He has two brothers as teammates at UVM, yet since his trip to the dentist chair, Ev is clearly the best looking Duncan. Younger brother Robin might have a shot in the future though.
Emily: We gotta put him on the team just to reward the hard work of his orthodontist! Very handsome. Love the strong ‘brows. They’ve been there all along!
He also looks tall. Just based on his headshot.
Plus, I love that he plays with his brothers. #FamilyFirst #FamilyIsForever
Shane: Think that’s three straight years Emily has mentioned eyebrows. We should be thinking more about our eyebrows, guys.
Eddie: I am scared to add Everett to my team because I’m not sure I could rely on Everett to be there for me and show up on time for things because he looks high as hell in all of his photos. Knowing some UVM grads, including my roommate, that doesn’t surprise me much. They are a weed-smoking, flighty bunch. But at the end of the day, they are fun to hang out with, so out of solidarity with them I am going to add Everett to the squad, but we are definitely going to start practice without him if he’s running late. And I am not even going to try and start a relationship with him. My heart couldn’t take that potential unreliability #JustAFriendStud
Kevin: This is a great story. Golf clap to Everett on his transformation – that redshirt year was well worth it. However, this is a classic case of guy doesn’t know how to handle his new-found looks. Everett should learn what he can from his teammates on the AHT and see if he can come back even stronger for his senior year. I’m rooting for ya kid.
Stan: The glow up is real. Really can’t say enough about this. I think we all could learn a thing or two from Everett here. Namely, that a beautiful set of pearly whites and good barber is more important than any God-given features. Everett is the everyman. And he is our man.
Robert Woodard, Mississippi State
Shane: This one is an Emily submission. She noticed Robert during the Aggies’ loss to Liberty in the first round. She wasn’t wrong. That’s quite the jawline. Pure unfiltered cold brewed hunk right there.
Emily: First up, love their uniforms. Second, he looks like a classic jock. Could be out on the court in 1974 or 2019. Just classic American handsome.
Eddie: How is it that the only woman contributor in this group picked out the first hands-down uggo? Shane is the one with bad taste in that relationship in my experience. I’ve got nothing else to say. #PASS
Kevin: Who doesn’t love a rock solid jawline? I am not sure he cracks our starting lineup but my gut is telling me Robert will be a very handsome old man and is going to scare his daughter’s high school boyfriend straight. “Yes sir! She’ll be home at 7:50! I love you!”
Stan: I am with Kev on this one. Robert is going to age like a fine wine. I think he would be the sixth man on this squad. He might not be able to hang with the most handsome of handsomes, but get him in a room of scrubs and duds and he will take them to the cleaners.
Corey Davis Jr. , Houston
Shane: Slam dunk, no-brainer in my book. What a smile! Eyes are so kind, they probably help old ladies across the street. Beard is just long enough without being James Harden-level-gross.
Emily: Very handsome, in an approachable way. He’s probably nice to everyone he meets. I bet he’s a happy guy, just based on his Google Image results.
Eddie: Yes, yes, a million times yes. Good to get back on track so quickly. Everything about him works, especially the smile. He feels like the type of guy who everyone likes because he remembers stuff about you even if you only talk sporadically. Like if I was talking to him at a Christmas party about how I smoke the turkey for family dinner on Christmas, when I run into him in March at another party, you can bet your ass Corey is going to ask me about that bird. Corey, do you need a best friend? Call me. #BestFriendStud
Kevin: This man is handsome! Enough said. Put him in coach.
Stan: I think we found our break out star of the year. This man is all-world handsome. I have a feeling he would look great in a bomber jacket. I wish i looked good in bomber jackets. They are cool, I am not sure I am.
Shane: I just got a new bomber jacket. My wife bought it for me for $12 at Target. Does the second sentence cancel out any coolness in the first sentence?
Stan: Bomber jackets are now cancelled.
Diogo Brito, Utah State
Shane: Tough one here. His headshot make him seem like one of the easiest choices ever. Look at it! Perfect smile. Tall, dark, handsome. Checks all the boxes. The more pictures you look into, the less you’re likely to vote in favor of Diogo. In a down year, I think that would be enough to earn a spot. This year? Not sure.
Emily: Great smile and a great name. And good hair! Probably gets a mean tan.
Kevin: All true Emily! And all very handsome qualities! Diogo seems like a good player off the bench to get the fans back on their feet, but I am not sure he has the skills to start given this year’s depth of talent. He’s a nice player.
Eddie: I texted Shane about Diogo when I was watching Utah State play, so I feel obligated to stick to my guns. He’s not blowing me out of the water in this pic, but his live-action looks were enough for him to make my squad for better or worse. #TrustYourGutStud
Stan: My man out here looking like a young Erik Estrada, who I know is most famous for the show CHiPS, but I predominantly know him from the 1998 film “Modern Adventures of Tom Sawyer.” For some reason I have seen that movie on VHS approximately 7000 times. Not sure there is another human outside of my family who has seen it. It has zero reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. Wonder if it holds up. No go for Diogo for me.
Kenny Williams, UNC
Shane: A senior who has been on the radar for a while, but this is his first nomination. His Google Image search is a certified NRA approved gun show. Not sure the full package is going to get Kenny a nod though. That Carolina blue always sucks us in. We’ve had a Tar Heel in the mix pretty much every March.
Emily: Anyone with arms like that screams “leader” to me. Those arms and that smile? The guy is a natural born leader!
Eddie: It seems all Emily needs is a good smile to be swept off her feet. An interesting turn of events because at best I would say Shane’s smile is…..fine. Anyways, I like to be a bit more discerning and have to pass on Kenny. He’s alright. Nothing wrong with him and when the light catches his eyes just right he’s actually pretty good to look at, but it’s just not enough. He’s my first alternate if anyone goes down though. #SubstituteStud
Kevin: Nobody loves a good gun show more than me but I have to agree with Eddie here. Kenny has some of the tools but this is the AHT we’re talking about here. #ticketstothewrongshow
Stan: I think I am going against the grain, Kenny has a spot on my squad any day. You all need to look past the pythons (I know its hard). There’s a whole lot to more to Kenny than the guns.
Terance Mann, Florida State
Shane: Great eyes. Fun hair. Strong smile. Has the same name as James Earl Jones’ character in Field of Dreams. I think he’s a handsome Mann.
Did you guys see what I did there? His name is Mann. You get it? Right?
Emily: I could see him on the runway. Short hair, long hair? Doesn’t matter. He’s a model to me. If basketball doesn’t work out, give Louis Vuitton a call. I’m not sure Louis himself is alive, but you get what I mean.
Eddie: Louis Vuitton is super dead according to Wikipedia and based on the picture on his page that guy wouldn’t have sniffed the all-handsome anything. Another guy who doesn’t sniff the all-handsome team? Terance. It’s not his fault, he just isn’t particularly good looking and my team is here to win championships. #LouisVuittonWasUgly
Kevin: Confidence can bring any stud up a few notches. The studlings out there should take notice on Terance and learn from this Mann. I think Eddie’s still doing the #BirdBoxChallenge because Terence has got it!
Eddie: Joke’s on you, Kev! I never even saw Bird Box!
Stan: Terance kinda looks like a fish, but a very handsome fish. I just googled “handsome fish” and I just hope that the NSA agent who flags that search also sees that it was for SCIENCE and not weird fish stuff. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Or maybe there is. Hard to keep track of these things.
Kyle Ahrens, Michigan State
Shane: Kyle with a big advantage this March. He got hurt during the Big Ten Tournament, so every shot of him on camera has been of him comfy on the bench in sweats. No ugly action shots to cloud our minds. He looks great in Michigan State’s green and white. I’ve voted yes to pretty much everyone, so that puts Kyle right on the cut line. Your thoughts?
Emily: Is this a playoff beard? It takes away from his boyish charm. He’s got a square head, but he is handsome. And a pretty good bod! Nice pipes.
Eddie: Get this clown out of my face. I don’t care what he looks like. Players on my team do not start crying like they broke their back and will never walk again when in reality they dislocated their ankle. The ankle is a hell of a long way from the heart. Candy ass. #WimpyDud
Shane: It’s the official position of Palestra Back that dislocating your ankle would hurt very badly and Kyle was totally OK to scream when HIS FOOT WAS REMOVED FROM ITS SOCKET.
Kevin: This guy reminds me of Colton from this season’s The Bachelor, who also didn’t know how to grow a proper beard. The first picture here is high quality stud material, but that’s not translating to the rest of his game. Kyle adds some good depth to this year’s squad but does not make my starting lineup.
Stan: This is a joke right? An elaborate prank? A five year long social experiment see if you can gaslight me into thinking this isn’t the most handsome man in AHT history? I am blown away. I am speechless. I am without speech. This ruined my night. I am going to bed.
After that deliberation, here’s the squad:
G – Corey Davis, Houston (Captain)
G- Everett Duncan, Vermont
F – Joey Baker, Duke
F – Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech
F – Blake Reynolds, Yale
Bench: Terance Mann (FSU), Robert Woodard (Miss St.)
Injured Reserve: Kyle Ahrens (Mich St.)
No joke: that team would make the Elite Eight (if not more).
Shane McNichol is the founder, editor, and senior writer at PalestraBack.com. He has also contributed to ESPN.com, Rush The Court, Larry Brown Sports, and USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow him on Twitter @OnTheShaneTrain. You can find every post from this blog on Twitter by following @PalestraBack.