CORAL GABLES, Fla. – When you watch the Miami Hurricanes basketball team play, there’s one thing that stands out.
Shane Larkin in the Nike Air Foamposite One "Polarized Pink" shoes.
As one of the nation’s hottest teams at 16-3 and a perfect 7-0 in ACC competition, the 14th-ranked Hurricanes are also one of the most stylish teams.
Each player brings a unique style to the court with them as the UM coaching staff doesn’t restrict the players from only wearing team shoes or even team colors.
Larkin and Scott first broke out the pair of highlighters two weeks ago in their win over No. 1 Duke.
“I didn’t even know coach was going to let them do it, but it looked good out there,” McKinney-Jones said.
Larkin spotted his shoes at nearby Sole Fly, a sneaker boutique store specializing in unique shoes and the latest designs. The shoes immediately caught his eye and he took a picture of them to send to assistant coach Michael Huger, who has to approve each shoe. Huger gave the Larkin the go-ahead and Larkin got the bright pair of shoes.
“A lot of people like the bright shoe,” Sole Fly store manager Tony Perez said. “So the guys have got them to wear in the games. There’s a lot of stuff in here and the guys come in saying they need a shoe for game day.”
Durand Scott in the Nike Zoom Hyperdunk 2011 shoes.
Not only did Larkin and Scott look good on the court, the backcourt duo combined for 43 points, 16 rebounds, and nine assists in Miami’s first ever win over a No. 1 Duke as the Hurricanes blew out the Blue Devils, 90-63.
As Mars Blackmon would say, “It’s gotta be the shoes.”
Scott was planning on wearing his bright yellow shoes last season in a game against Memphis, but head coach Jim Larranaga, who was in his first year at UM, wasn’t comfortable with the idea so the staff had Scott change into a different pair before the game.
“We were coming from George Mason so we weren’t used to that,” Huger said.
Since then, Larranaga put Huger in charge of which shoes can and cannot be worn. Huger receives plenty of requests and suggestions from the creative group of players looking to lead Miami to its first NCAA tournament appearance in five years.
“I use it as an incentive and say, ‘Hey, if we win this game, you guys are allowed to wear the lime green shoe that’s how they came into play (against Duke),” Huger said. “We were at Boston College and the guys weren’t as sharp in our practice and shoot-around so I gave them a little extra motivation and said, ‘Hey if we win this game you guys can wear those lime green shoes that you want to wear so badly. We wound up winning by one point.”
Larkin and Scott had the brightest shoes on the court that day against Duke, but the other Hurricanes deserve high marks for their style as well.
Most notably, Julian Gamble. While the highlighter shoes might stand out the most, devoted sneakerheads will be proud of Gamble’s shoes. Gamble has been wearing a special-edition Solefly x Jordan Spizike shoe. There are only about 60 pairs in the world of the impressive orange, green, black and grey shoe.
Trey McKinney-Jones wore the Air Jordan 11 “Cool Grey” and Kenny Kadji was in a pair of the Nike LeBron X id shoes to round out Miami’s starting five against Duke. Then there’s Rion Brown, who has been wearing a Nike Kevin Durant orange shoe throughout the season and Erik Swoope has had a unique mix including seen in Kobe’s “Christmas” shoe although Huger wouldn’t let him wear a “Gym Green” pair of Foamposites.
“Everybody has pretty good style,” Larkin said.
McKinney-Jones led the shoe charge in Miami’s next game against Florida State wearing a pair of Nike KD 5 “DMV” shoes that pays tribute to Kevin Durant’s hometown. McKinney-Jones scored game-high 15 points in the win over the Seminoles in his orange and blue colorways with a neon logo, which were released in December.
“Me, Shane and a few other guys on the team are real big shoe fanatics so we like to stay up on what is in with Jordans, Nikes, and switch it up for the games, especially the big games that are on TV,” McKinney-Jones said. “We like to pull something nice out of our closets.”
Larkin switched it up against Florida State as he put on a pair of Nike Air Foamposite One “Polarized Pink” shoes and had the socks to match.
“I like wearing shoes that nobody has and it catches my eye,” Larkin said. “Hopefully I keep window shopping and I find some more crazy stuff.”
For the majority of the season, Larkin has been wearing a pair of orange Chris Paul’s CP3 VI shoes, but has been switching it up lately. He has a pair of highlighter orange shoes in his locker that he’d like to wear at some point, but says he needs time to break them in.
As far as other plans for the future, Larkin has ideas in mind.
“I have tricks up my sleeve that I already have,” Larkin said. “I don’t want to spoil the secret of the shoes I’m going to wear, but I’m definitely going to be pulling out some crazy stuff down the road.”
The players are enjoying being able to show their creative side on the court.
“They’re having a lot of fun,” Huger said. “Winning solves everything and when you win, the team, coach L, everybody is happy about the program, the university, the students, and everyone is showing up to the games. We just have to continue winning and playing together, that’s the key. And then the shoes speak on their personalities on the court and I want to continue with that. I give them some freedom with the shoes and colors. I won’t let them go over-the-top, but when we win, I’ll give them a little more freedom.”