Who says white men can’t jump? Here’s one who also shoots and rebounds and blocks shots. Oh, and steals hearts too. After leading Duke to its second straight college basketball title in March, Laettner, 22, drove Arsenio’s audience beyond woofs into wild squeals. The women weren’t swooning over his Charmin-soft jump shot but rather that dreamboat mug and that well-sculpted 6’11”, 250-lb. body. Don’t be fooled by his angelic puss, though. The all-American also harbors a fiercely competitive streak that led him to rest his size-15 sneaker firmly on an opponent’s chest during the tournament. “He had hit me earlier,” explains Laettner. “I was just telling him I remembered. But I’m only cocky in basketball terms.”
Off-court, that ego takes a rest. “Everyone says I was real cute as a kid, but from 8 to 19 I was horrible-looking, freaky,” recalls the upstate New Yorker. “My nose took up my whole face. Now my teammates would probably say I never met a mirror I didn’t like, but who doesn’t want to look good?” Unattached, he watches MTV for a glimpse of veejay Duff (“I love her smile and crazy dimples”) and spiffs up by way of Perry Ellis. (GQ magazine was interested enough to ask him to keep a senior-year diary, which they’ll publish this fall.)
Laettner graduates in mid-month. A probable Top 3 pick in the pro basketball draft, he will on June 24 learn the zip code of his next team. It won’t be 90210, but long run, he admits, “I’d love to do movies.” Casting directors already know his name (and size). Mike Fenton, whose credits include the Back to the Future trilogy, places Laettner “in the leading-man category. But it would be difficult to cast, say, Sally Field opposite Christian.” Unless, of course, it was a remake of A Big Hand for the Little Lady.