Brady Manek has become one of the most recognizable players at the 2022 NCAA Tournament. Yes, the UNC star has wowed college basketball fans with his smooth shooting. But what really sets the sniper apart? Her hair.
Manek sports some of the best moss March Madness has seen in quite some time. The 6-foot-9, 231-pound forward has grown his hair and beard for the better part of two years, and it shows.
You’ll be hard pressed to miss Manek’s mop of dirty blonde hair and strawberry blonde beard as he competes in the Final Four.
If you’re wondering why you haven’t noticed Manek’s mane despite four years in Oklahoma before his pit stop at Chapel Hill, there’s a good reason. For most of his half-decade in big college hoops, he was clean-shaven and only occasionally had long hair, which drew comparisons to Larry Bird.
How much has Manek’s style changed since his junior year? Here’s a look at his salad in each of his five college basketball seasons with Oklahoma and UNC.
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Brady Manek’s hair: a year-by-year look
2017-18: Oklahoma, freshman year
- 2017-18 stats: 10.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 0.5 apg, 46.6 FG%, 38.3 3P%
When Brady Manek first showed up in Oklahoma, he was something of a baby-faced assassin. During his successful debut season, Manek rocked a simple hairstyle: a buzz cut. It was the same hairstyle he had throughout his youth, as explained by his mother Tina.
“He never wanted to play with it,” she said Athleticism.
The buzz cut appeared in each of Manek’s first three seasons with the Sooners. It was his go-to style whenever he wanted to change things up.
Manek, the No. 2 overall rookie from Oklahoma and the 117th-ranked player overall for the Class of 2017, has quickly become an integral part of the Sooners offense. He finished third on the team in scoring behind Trae Young and Christian James while ranking in the top five on the team in shooting percentage, 3-point percentage, rebounds and blocks.
The Sooners peaked at No. 4 in the AP poll before plummeting to become the No. 10 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Despite Young’s presence on the roster, the Sooners failed to upset Rhode Island and left the tournament without a win.
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2018-19: Oklahoma, second year
- 2018-19 stats: 12.2 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 0.8 apg, 46.9 FG%, 35.8 3P%
Manek’s second season saw him take on a bigger role after Young declared himself for the NBA Draft. As a result, all of Manek’s major scoring stats have improved, including his overall shooting percentage. He fell back slightly from 3-point range but remained a top scoring threat.
However, Manek’s most notable change came out on top. He started the season with a mop of long straight blonde hair and looked a bit like Larry Bird. However, as the schedule rolled around, he shaved down to the buzz cut he rocked during his freshman year.
“I just needed something new to happen, and I decided to cut my hair. I had wanted to for a long time,” Manek said at the time, per daily organization unit. “I thought it might have been a good idea.
“I feel like the old me.”
The change worked for Manek. He averaged 13.8 points per game after his cut and shot 52.9% from the floor and 38.2% from deep. All were above their season averages.
Overall, Manek finished second to the Sooners in scoring behind James and helped lead Oklahoma to the second round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament. The Sooners were eliminated by eventual tournament champions Virginia in a 63-51 loss.
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2019-20: Oklahoma, juniors
- 2019-20 stats: 14.4 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 0.9 apg, 45.3 FG%, 38 3P%
Manek mostly kept his hair short during the 2019-20 season. He let it grow a bit, as you can see in the image above, but he ended up humming it again. He never reached the length he had in the previous season.
As for Manek’s performance, it was great. He was a more effective outside shooter and averaged 14.4 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. Both would score his highest totals in Oklahoma.
The Sooners went 19-12 (9-9 Big 12) during the regular season and looked set to compete for a spot in the NCAA Tournament until the COVID-19 pandemic shut down March Madness.
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2020-21: Oklahoma, senior
- 2020-21 stats: 10.8 ppg, 5 rpg, 0.8 apg, 42.2 FG%, 37.5 3P%
Manek’s favorite hairstyle has started to seriously change during the pandemic. He and his brother Kellen have decided to grow their hair out together, according to The Athletic. Since then, Manek’s style has remained.
“He trimmed it slightly,” said Manek’s mother Athleticism“but he hasn’t really cut much since it all stopped.”
Thus, Manek looked very different on the pitch during the 2020-21 season as his hair and beard grew longer and longer. However, he had arguably his worst season with the Sooners, as he posted his lowest points and rebounds total since his freshman year and saw his field goal percentage drop to 42.2%.
Despite the setback, Manek still ranked among the Sooners’ top three scorers and rebounders. He helped lead the team to the second round of the NCAA Tournament before Gonzaga, the eventual national finalist, eliminated them.
2021-22: UNC, graduate
- 2021-22 stats: 15.2 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.9 apg, 49.5 FG%, 39.8 3P%
Norman’s move to Chapel Hill coincided with Manek’s rise as the Rapunzel of college basketball.
The graduate transfer proved in his only season at UNC that his hair wasn’t what was keeping him in Oklahoma. He continued to grow his hair and beard and became one of the most recognizable players in March Madness 2022.
Manek, now 23, quickly fit into the Tar Heels system, partnered with first-year head coach Hubert Davis and became a key part of UNC’s starting lineup. The Tar Heels have relied heavily on their starters this season, and Manek is one of three players on the team to average at least 15 points per game, along with Armando Bacot and Caleb Love.
Not only was Manek productive, he was efficient, shooting almost 50% from the field and just under 40% from outside the arc. He also averages a career-high 1.9 assists per game.
So far in the NCAA Tournament, Manek has averaged 21.5 points, eight rebounds and two assists per game for UNC while shooting 57.7% from the field and 47.1% off. a range of 3 points. He has been key to the success of the Tar Heels and will look to continue playing at a high level as UNC fights for another national championship.
But win or lose, it’s hard to argue that anyone in the tournament has a better mane than Manek.