Duke’s Jared McCain is Making Way for a New Kind of Man

Duke’s Jared McCain is Making Way for a New Kind of Man

How the Duke freshman is ushering in a new model for masculinity
jared mccain nail polish

By Megan Collins | Last Updated: Apr 3 2024 | 2 min read

While Duke came up short in this year’s NCAA tournament, ultimately losing to NC State in the Elite Eight, it’s safe to say Jared McCain’s “one shining moment” is just beginning.

The freshman guard and burgeoning TikTok star is redefining what it means to be a man in 2024.

From painted nails on the court to his endearing theatre kid energy on social media, McCain is breaking the student athlete mold…and a lot of brains in the process.

It’s the reason our team wanted to include him in 2024’s SG Madness. And why McCain easily made it past the first round, even if he was eventually defeated by NBA elder statesman Chris Paul.

Whether it’s offhandedly embracing manicures (“There’s really no crazy reason to it. It helps me not bite my nails. I went to a salon one time, and I decided to pick out a color. And I thought it looked nice.”) or singing Sam Smith covers on TikTok like a drama student vying for the lead in Bye Bye Birdie, the California native continually challenges the traditional, hyper-masculine mold of the men’s athlete.

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McCain’s comfort in his own skin signals a new generation of male athletes — and hopefully men in general — who refuse to be boxed in by outdated notions of masculinity. Like Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams, who was recently spotted at the NCAA tournament carrying a pink phone and (possibly?) lip gloss. A cultural earthquake which somehow merited a whole news cycle about the likely first pick in the 2024 NFL draft.

The Duke player’s latest NIL deal with at-home nail polish brand Sally Hansen solidifies his status as a gender stereotype-busting star, which makes a lot of men uncomfortable.

TikTok user @jgregg_jonathan sums it up nicely:

@jgregg_jonathan #stitch with @Anthony Stiriti #dadhairday #dad #nails #manicure #spaday ♬ original sound – Jonathan Gregg

The bottom line? McCain is showing what a modern man can look like, and how vulnerability, creativity, and a killer crossover can all be a part of the complete package in 2024.

And that’s something we can all cheer for.

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