ORLANDO — College of Charleston Cougars guard Jack Miller had one question the first time he saw teammate Dalton Bolon’s choice of footwear.
“What are those?”
Sparkly, white Nike Air Monarchs, the official shoes of dads everywhere — and, apparently, one of the oldest players in this year’s NCAA tournament.
“He wears those things everywhere,” Miller said.
Proudly, it turns out.
“I don’t care what anybody says,” said Bolon, who turns 25 years old in June. “You know, they see grandpas wearing these things. Like, grandpas are the smartest people on the earth. I don’t know why people don’t take their advice more often.
“These are so comfortable.”
Bolon sports them because they’re better for his right foot, which he broke. And he really does wear them everywhere: Around campus, hanging out, and even during Wednesday’s interview session heading into the 12th-seeded Cougars’ first-round NCAA tournament matchup against the fifth-seeded San Diego State Aztecs on Thursday at the Amway Center.
Unfortunately, he won’t be wearing them during the game. Charleston is an Under Armour basketball school, but Bolon said the shoes the team wears put pressure on the spot where his injury occurred, so he secured permission from the apparel company to wear black Nikes during games and the Air Monarchs off the court.
“I’ll wear [them for] the rest of my life,” he said. “I have no style.”
His teammates give him a lot of grief for it, but Bolon’s fine with it because it’s what he expects from his teammates as a player in his seventh season of college basketball. Bolon started his career in 2017 at Division II West Liberty, and after redshirting his first season, he played four more seasons for the Hilltoppers, finishing second on the school’s career scoring list (2,247 points).
He transferred to Charleston for the 2021-22 season with a COVID year but broke his right foot three games into the season. He got an additional year and led the Cougars in scoring (12.3 points per game) while helping them to a 31-3 record, Colonial Athletic Association regular-season and tournament titles and their first NCAA tournament berth since 2018.
Thursday’s game against the Aztecs will be the 155th game of his career — and potentially his last one. Unless …
“Yeah, looking for an eighth [year],” he joked. “So if there’s a way I can get an eighth, if you people could tell me how, that would be great.”
He might have to switch to slippers if that happens.