March 20, 2013

Unlocked: Wichita State’s Carl Hall sheds his dreads

They intimidated opponents, flying in their faces when Carl Hall crashed into the lane.

They intimidated opponents, flying in their faces when Carl Hall crashed into the lane.

They earned fans, adorning their own “Dread The Locks” T-shirt sold through the Wichita State University bookstore.

For five years, everywhere the 6-foot-8-inch forward went, they went, too.

But Hall’s trademark long dreadlocks are no more.

The Shocker senior surprised his teammates, coaches and fans by having them cut off before he departed Wichita for the NCAA Tournament in Salt Lake City.

He revealed his newly-shorn noggin at the team news conference on Wednesday, playfully pulling a comb from his pocket and dragging it over his clean, close cut a few times for effect.

“Gotta get my hair right,” he said, as gathered photographers rapid-fired their shutters.

Hall said he made the decision to cut his hair partially to shock his teammates. But the new ’do is also symbolic, he said.

“I just wanted to try something different,” he said. “I wanted to be like a new person coming into this tournament.”

On Monday, Hall said, he went to OG’s International Hair Design at 13th and Hillside. The barber didn’t want to do what Hall asked.

“He kept asking me, ‘Are you sure this is what you want to do?’ ” Hall said. “He asked me like 10 times.”

But Hall told him to cut, so he did – first with scissors.

“I kind of paused for a second,” Hall said. “I really wanted him to stop. But I guess I just let him go ahead and cut it off.”

Hall got the reaction he was after from his teammates and coaches.

Coach Gregg Marshall prohibits “hair flair” on the team. But if a player has it when he’s recruited, he’s allowed to keep it.

Marshall said he questioned the timing of Hall’s self-makeover, but he wasn’t entirely displeased with the outcome.

“He looks a lot like his mom, and she’s a pretty lady,” Marshall said. “I’m not saying he’s pretty, but he looks a lot like his mom.”

The detached locks are in a safe place, Hall said.

He gathered them up after the cut and mailed them to his mother, Jackie Fields, in Georgia. (He warned her first that they were coming, he said.)

Now, Hall and his teammates and fans are learning how to deal with life after the locks.

Hall said he wakes up at night sometimes, wondering why his head feels so light.

“I haven’t gotten used to it yet,” he said. “I lay in bed at night and rub my head thinking, ‘What did I do?’ ”

Teammate Cleanthony Early said he thinks the new ’do has given Hall new freedom.

“I think he’s been moving faster in practice,” he said with a laugh.

On Tuesday, a new Twitter account called “Carl Hall’s Dreads” popped up (@thebestdreads).

And fans across Wichita were remembering the hair that was, especially on social media.

“Can we all please take a moment of silence,” WSU student Sara Hall posted on Twitter, “in remembrance of Carl Hall’s dreads. #RIP”

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