Florida sophomore guard Kowacie Reeves anticipated his new look as he walked into Juan’s House of Fades on 13th Street in late October. He sat upright in the leather barber chair and awaited the two steel blades that were about to slice off his hair.
Reeves, who at the time had long bleached hair tied up into two knots, had chunks of his hair chopped off. His barber — Juan Castano, also known as Juan The Barber — handed each strand to the guard as he removed them from his head. Reeves had been thinking about the haircut for a long while, Castano said.
Castano filmed the cut on his TikTok, and the video quickly gained fans’ attention. The video currently has 239,800 views on his account, making it his most viral video to date.
“He’s definitely one in a million,” Castano said of Reeves. “He’s very free-spirited.”
Whether it was for comfort or style, the native from Macon, Georgia, had a new canvas to express his creativity.
Throughout UF’s 2022-23 men’s basketball season, Reeves caught the eyes of many with an array of different colors above his headband and his elevated game on the court.
He first revealed his new look when getting ready for a closed preseason scrimmage against the Jacksonville Dolphins Oct. 29. Reeves laced his shoes while he took a new blond look to the court; his hair was still bleached but was now buzzed short.
The blond base was one of the many foundations for his hairstyle changes throughout the season.
By the time Florida was back on campus for its Orange and Blue open team scrimmage Nov. 1, Reeves surprised his teammates once again with his blond hair donning pink hearts.
The change caught everyone off guard, including Gators head coach Todd Golden. The new hairstyle marked the second time Reeves changed it in less than a week.
“He’s a very unique, talented young man, and if he wants to express himself that way, it’s all good,” Golden said. “I didn’t anticipate the hearts to come in today, but again, it’s his canvas.”
Reeves grew up always playing sports around his hometown of Macon. Whether he participated in baseball, football or basketball, his parents always made sure he was active.
His father, Kowacie Reeves Sr., coached Reeves until he entered sixth grade. However, he was always involved during the guard’s time at Westside High School and, even now, while Reeves plays at Florida.
“I think that's a big part in what helped me and what made me like basketball even more,” Reeves said. “Just having that other type of relationship with my dad.”
Thanks to his father’s influence, and his family's support, Reeves quickly gained the attention of college programs and became a four-star prospect, according to 247sports’ composite rankings.
Florida started to recruit the 6-foot-6-inch point guard while he was a freshman at Westside High School.
Reeves knew he had a chance to play on the collegiate level when the Gators showed interest in him.
“Before then I was just enjoying high school basketball,” Reeves said. “Just trying to make a varsity game — trying to be there.”
Before scouts even went out to watch the top-notched shooter knock down triples, Reeves always showcased his originality around town.
Reeves described his unique style as “alternative.” He tried to wear brands that were different from the brands he saw others wearing.
Clothes from BAPE, Converse and COMME des GARÇONS filled his high school wardrobe.
He continues to wear alternative clothes while attending UF and loves his style no matter what people might think, he said.
“That’s what I think people fall in love with,” Reeves said. “Stuff that people are afraid to wear, or [makes people] think about what somebody else is going to say on what you have on. For me, if I think it looks good, I like it.”
Reeves stayed true to his ideas and brought his style to the game with 10 hair modifications across 31 regular season games.
Nobody on the Gators has a similar style to him, Reeves said. However, he said his teammates are fashionable. Junior guard Niels Lane, Reeves’ friend and teammate, has a style similar to that of a model, Reeves said.
“If you were to see a model on a site for some jeans you wanted, or some real model type stuff like plaid pants with a button down — he’s like that,” Reeves said.
Blond with hearts, crosses or flames, green with question marks riddled across his head, or straight Fabuloso purple were all designs seen on Reeves from the Stephen C. O’Connell Center rafters throughout the regular season.
Reeves’ favorite hairstyle premiered on the Billy Donovan Court, but it shined the best elsewhere in the Sunshine State.
Reeves exploded in Florida’s 82-48 victory against the Ohio Bobcats Dec. 14 in Tampa. He came off the bench and was automatic from 3-point range.
The 6-foot-6-inch guard hung the Bobcats out to dry with his accurate shooting. He rocked black cobwebs across his blond dyed hair — a hairstyle he always wanted to try, Reeves said.
Reeves finished with a season-high 20 points and shot 7-11 from the floor — 4-7 from beyond the arc — against Ohio.
The game was a moment from this season that Reeves etched in the back of his mind, he said. The venue holds a special place in his basketball career with the Gators as well.
“That was where we played at that SEC Tournament last year. I had a big game there,” Reeves said. “To turn around and play there again and have another big game following up there in that same gym, it was cool to me.”
Reeves scored a career-high 21 points last season in UF’s 83-80 overtime loss to the Texas A&M Aggies in the Southeastern Conference Tournament March 10, 2022.
Many have tried to compare his style with former athletes who also used their hair to express their flair, but the Florida guard said he replicates no one.
No influences came from Hall of Fame forward Dennis Rodman’s hair color switches or former New York Knicks defensive stalwart Anthony Mason’s tendency to engrave his name on the side of his head.
Reeves — a fan of old school basketball — respects former players who opened the door for players to showcase their personality through style, he said.
“I like those guys and their creativity because I’m a creative person,” Reeves said. “I don’t know about copy, just want to keep it ‘me.’”
Reeves watched a lot of highlights of former National Basketball Association stars in high school. He looked at the professional ball players game for inspiration to his skill set.
He focused specifically on former rimrockers Sean Elliott, Tracy McGrady and Grant Hill.
He watched how they examined the correct angles to attack the rim and drive with quickness when they finished.
The 192-pound guard took their playstyles into consideration and added the skills he learned to his arsenal for his sophomore year. He improved his game through his second year because of his work in the gym and college basketball experience, Reeves said.
“I’m not the best at it by any means, but I understand it more,” Reeves said. “That’s why I’m able to get little stuff now that I’ve played it for so long.”
Reeves used his driving ability to get him out of a scoring slump earlier in the season. He made only three baskets through a four-game stretch from Jan. 28 to Feb. 8.
He used his strength and athleticism to attack the basket like T-Mac against the Vanderbilt Commodores Feb. 11 in the O’Dome.
In one case, he drove inside toward the paint and the awaiting Vanderbilt fifth-year senior forward Liam Robbins. The seven-footer met Reeves at the rim to challenge him.
Reeves rose to the occasion sporting crosses on his bleached hair and found the right angle to avoid Robbins attempt to block his dunk. He attacked the basket and slammed in a one-handed jam right in the face of the Commodore.
Reeves, similar to the NBA idols he watched, caught a body and finished the game with 14 points. He scored double-digit points in two of the next three games after UF’s 88-80 loss to Vanderbilt.
“I just try to channel my energy out there,” Reeves said. “Just try to be a positive impact and a game changer when I get in the game.”
The sophomore guard has always been a people person, shining the most with his core of close friends and family. The nucleus surrounding him off the court has made his time living alone in Gainesville simple, Reeves said.
“Once I’d found a core people that I was gonna be really close with off the court, living by myself was like nothing,” Reeves said.
However, more people now know the 20-year-old ball player from Macon — not from word-of-mouth — but from what he’s been able to show on the court.
Like his game and the designs on his head, Reeves is always changing.
Contact Brandon Hernandez at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BranH2001.
Brandon Hernandez is the assistant sports editor, the host of the Alligator Sports Podcast and is a student at the University of Florida studying journalism. He is also a writer for Plugtalksports, and the podcast host for "The Courtside Pocast" available on Spotify.