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Duke basketball star Jared McCain paints his nails, ignores ‘grown men’ haters

Jared McCain was a social-media star before he arrived at Duke. The freshman is already one of the team’s top scorers.

Duke v Notre Dame
Jared McCain, a freshman guard for the Duke Blue Devils basketball team, paints his fingernails before games.
Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Jared McCain, a freshman guard for the Duke Blue Devils, has made a name for himself already this season, the Duke running off seven straight wins, by lighting up the scoreboard and painting his fingernails.

McCain, who grew up in Sacramento and was regarded as one of the best players (if not the best) in California his senior year of high school, isn’t shying away from his colorful nails, either on the court or off.

McCain is already contributing to the Duke basketball team, third on the team in scoring, averaging 12.2 points per game. He’s also third in steals and fourth in assists.

And as Alex Reimer at Queerty pointed it, he had one of his best games during the Christmas break, after which he was asked about his particularly colorful red-and-green manicure:

The young basketball star told Complex Magazine last year that he first started painting his nails during quarantine. No biggie.

“At an early age I’ve always been told to just be myself, like I’m always just gonna be myself,” he said. “And as for the painted nails, I saw it during quarantine and I just started doing it. I never saw anything wrong with it like. I understand girls do it. I understand men have started to do it a little more recently, but it was just something I saw.”

He has built quite a following on TikTok, garnering 2 million followers and almost 120 million likes. The combination of basketball stardom, personality and unique look — not many top-tier D1 college basketball players painting their fingernails — is certainly tailor-made for TikTok stardom.

Despite painting his nails during the pandemic, it is an Instagram post from last December that was the earliest Instagram post we could find his nails painted (the sixth image):

Not everyone is having the painted nails. Of course, anonymous jerks gonna jerk on the internet.

It doesn’t phase McCain.

“I like to get manicures and pedicures,” McCain told Complex. “I take care of my body. Some of these people hate, I don’t know if they do take care of their body... the hate is funny because it’s usually grown men most of the time and it’s like you’re a grown man just hating on a kid.”

Imagine that, adult men behind their keyboards hating on a young kind. Shocking.

Though college basketball fans have taken out their homophobia on Duke for many years, even before the internet, most notably targeting Duke star Christian Laettner.

Duke hasn’t quite lived up to expectations this season, as the Blue Devils were No. 2 in the AP preseason rankings with 11 first-place votes. At 12-3, they now sit at No. 11, having been as low as No. 22.