The gray area of non-traditional uniforms is coming to college basketball, and the University of Kentucky men are among the featured teams.
Nike unveiled its new "platinum" line Wednesday to be worn by nine powerhouse men's and women's teams for one game each later this season. Like the gaudy outfits that have become so popular in college football, these take liberties with the programs' standard color schemes.
"We feel we have the opportunity to create as much energy as they do on the football field," said Tracy Teague, global creative director for Nike Basketball.
The jerseys and shorts are gray with trims in the schools' official hues.
The team names are in a reflective silver material, while the back of the jersey features a large school logo in contrasting shades of gray. Above the number is a star for each of the program's national championships; the players' name is below.
The programs selected have won national championships wearing Nike gear: Arizona, Connecticut, Duke, Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina and Syracuse men and the Baylor and UConn women.
The Hyper Elite Platinum uniforms will debut when the UConn men face Notre Dame on Sunday.
Kentucky will wear its gray uniform for its home game against Tennessee on Tuesday night.
Alternate uniforms are nothing new in college basketball, with black an especially popular choice in the past. Individual schools had previously requested gray jerseys from Nike, but this is the first time the company has created a standardized line for basketball.
The platinum color looks good on the court, Teague said at a launch event Wednesday in Manhattan.
"It creates a great canvas to then come in and embellish different things," he said. "We talk about colors being the new black — for us in the uniform world, the gray kind of is that new black background."
Some fans may balk at the departure from tradition, but others rush to the merchandise shop to buy a gray jersey. And those 18- to 22-year-olds wearing the uniforms love them — as do those 16- and 17-year-old recruits considering these schools.
"Sometimes I almost think we don't push it fast enough for them," Teague said of introducing new design innovations.
"I would say today's kid isn't nearly as traditional as maybe kids who came before them," he added.
When Nike reps talk to those slightly-older-than-22 college coaches, they don't just sell them on the competitive advantages of the lightweight materials used in the uniforms.
"As much as there's the physical aspect of the game, there's this emotional side of wanting to look great," Teague said.