INDIANAPOLIS – Megan Timme recalls the trend beginning as early as 2016, when her oldest son was a sophomore at Pearce High School in Richardson, Texas.
Drew, now one of the country’s most formidable post men and the top scorer for unbeaten Gonzaga after three games of the NCAA Tournament, would drum up the inspiration for his next look, fire up his razor and spend the next five to 10 minutes in front of a bedroom mirror, trimming, cutting and sculpting the reddish brown bristles on his face – a deliberate and detailed process that mirrors the way Timme moves on the low block.
Megan often got the first look at the final product. Sometimes Drew would fashion his facial hair into a traditional mustache. Other times a handlebar would take shape. A more seldom rendition was the monkey tail – a thick mustache that begins on one side of the lip, crosses over to the other, loops down under the chin, rides up the jawline and finishes at the sideburn.
The styles varied, but the objective usually remained the same: If it didn’t elicit a concerned reaction from mom, it wasn’t good enough.
“He started toying around with it, thinking it was funny and he would tell me he was going to school like that and he never did,” Megan said. “Always threatening me with that. Then before he ever did, he’d shave it off.”
Some things have changed since then. Timme isn’t living under his parents’ roof these days, Megan can no longer nag at her son to shave before class and even if she does make a push to convince Drew to get rid of his newest look, tens of thousands of college basketball fans who’ve embraced Gonzaga’s dominant sophomore in the NCAA tournament would probably push back.
Sometimes just hopping on the bandwagon is easier than standing in its way.
“He has decided that train has left the station,” Megan said, “and that is going to happen all the time now.
“It’s kind of fun. Drew’s such a silly kid and he loves funny, little, quirky things. I’m not surprised he found something, but I would not have guessed it would have been his facial hair.”
Those who’ve followed the top-seeded Zags in the NCAA Tournament have probably recognized Timme for one of two things: impeccable footwork in the post that belies his 6-foot-10, 235-pound frame and allows him to outplay more athletic bigs, or the Fu Manchu that’s set the internet ablaze in becoming the biggest viral sensation of this year’s tournament, even outlasting revered Loyola Chicago chaplain Sister Jean.
“It’s definitely taken on a life of its own, that’s for sure,” father Matt Timme said. “Drew’s always going to be Drew and do his thing. He likes to have fun out there, obviously, which he’s been doing but I don’t even think he thought it would be anything to the level it’s become now, but it’s pretty awesome.”
Earlier in the year, Timme debuted a scaled down version of the “Drew Manchu,” or “Fu Man Drew,” shaving his facial hair into a stand-alone mustache. That grabbed headlines at the time and prompted a signature celebration that Timme’s carried all the way to the NCAA Tournament in Indianapolis: The forward brushes his ’stache with both index fingers then points to the sky whenever he finishes off a highlight play.
The mustache also triggered a social media reaction from his mom, who last December posted a photo of shaving cream and a razor with the caption, “Hey Santa - I have been super good this year!! I have a last minute request!”
Matt’s response to the mustache? “I can’t believe he pulled it off.”
You see, lush facial hair was never a genetic gift for the Timme family. Now, it’s a gift the Timmes have given to the college basketball world.
“Freshman year he had a shaved head, like buzzed, no facial hair,” Matt said. “Then he grew his bangs out long and started growing a full beard.”
Matt then quipped: “I couldn’t grow a beard like that till I was 28.”
When Timme paid his official visit to Gonzaga as a four-start high school prospect, he showed up with a light layer of peach fuzz covering both sides of his face, chin and neck. Just like his game, the facial hair has become more robust, and Timme decided on a whim to try out a new experiment prior to GU’s tournament opener against Norfolk State.
“I don’t think he knows he’s going to do it until it actually happens, because I know even with the Drew Manchu this time around, he even surprised his teammates with it before their first game against Norfolk State,” Matt said. “Shoot-around, he had his full beard then all the sudden he came back for the game. He does it for the shock value and to have fun with it.”
After Gonzaga’s Sweet 16 win over Creighton – a game that saw Timme score 22 points, bringing his three-game tournament total to 62 – the sophomore from Texas responded to a postgame question from CBS about his unique look: “It’s something that can’t really be tamed. I can’t even control it, so just something we have to go with.
“My teammates like it and all that, so it’s great, and I’m just glad everyone’s having fun with it. That was the whole point of it, to bring some comedic scene to here.”
Timme can’t control the ’stache, but opponents have had just as much trouble containing Timme the last two weeks in Indianapolis, conceding 62 points, 25 rebounds and 13 assists to the crafty big man. His next test, against USC and Pac-12 Player of the Year Evan Mobley in the Elite Eight, should be his biggest yet.
“All the facial hair, giggling and laughing and celebrations aside, Drew’s a dog,” teammate Corey Kispert said. “Drew can play with anybody and beat anybody. He’s been showing that on full display all tournament long.”
Timme’s game and his facial hair have drawn rave reviews from just about everyone. Well, everyone other than the woman who birthed him, although she’s accepted and appreciated the trend for what it’s worth.
“I like the clean-shaven, I like the full beard. Those are my favorites. Outside of that, the goatee will be all right,” Megan said. “But as far as the crazy stuff, I can’t say I have a favorite. They all have one category. This dirty handlebar ’stache has not been my favorite. It’s really thick and burly, so that’s definitely not on the favorite list.”
When Dwyane Wade interviewed Timme in a recent video for NCAA.com, the former 13-time NBA All-Star relayed a message to Gonzaga’s young star: “Tell your mom you have to keep the ’stache. Tell her D-Wade says the ’stache stays.”
“I will say, when I saw him with Dwyane Wade, that threw me back,” Megan said. “I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, Dwyane Wade’s talking to my kid.’”
On Sunday, Marc Johnson, Timme’s high school coach from Texas and a neighbor of the Timme family, showed up to Hinkle Fieldhouse with his own twist on his former player’s “Drew Manchu” look.
“Drew’s always had mad facial hair game, even in high school,” Johnson said. “Drew’s a unique kid, so he has fun with it. … You never knew what Drew was going to show up to the game with.”
Members of ESPN’s College GameDay show, including Jay Bilas, Seth Greenberg, Rece Davis and LaPhonso Ellis, copied Timme’s look while interviewing the Gonzaga player and CBS analysts did the same during a pregame show Sunday.
Just like the Bulldogs, the mustache has staying power in the NCAA Tournament, and it’s been the perfect expression for a Gonzaga team that’s been able to play loose despite the intense pressure that comes with being the event’s top overall seed – and continues to mount with every win.
“Drew’s always been Drew, is what we like to say,” Megan said. “He’s going to be Drew and find a way to be Drew, so this is his way of alleviating probably the intensity and the pressure of it to make sure it’s still a game and still fun and enjoyable.”
Timme could part ways with the mustache eventually, but he’d like to be cutting down the nets at Lucas Oil Stadium first. Plus, the look has become easier for Megan to digest every time Gonzaga wins with her son rocking the “Drew Manchu.” Another seven days can’t hurt.
“I will say this, I do like it a lot better when he wins and when he plays really well it makes the ’stache grow on me, for sure,” Megan said.
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