Milwaukee Bucks Using ‘Face Readers’ to Evaluate Players

Jabari Parker UPI

Always looking for new and improved ways to determine the suitability of promising college players, the Milwaukee Bucks have contracted with a “face reader” to determine if players have what it takes to go pro.

As The New York Times reported, the Bucks hired computer facial coding expert Dan Hill to scan the faces of college prospects to see if they can determine the players’ emotional dispositions.

“We spend quite a bit of time evaluating the players as basketball players and analytically,” David Morway, the Bucks’ assistant general manager, told the paper. “But the difficult piece of the puzzle is the psychological side of it, and not only psychological, character and personality issues, but also team chemistry issues.”

Facial analyst Hill claims that the unconscious actions of the facial muscles can tell much about a person’s mental state. He claims that at any given time one or more of seven core emotions are displayed on the face: happiness, surprise, contempt, disgust, sadness, anger and fear.

Hill developed his techniques working for advertisers, especially when evaluating the faces of members of focus groups. His key successes concerned focus group members who either wouldn’t respond honestly about what ad or product was being tested or had trouble expressing thoughts clearly.

Milwaukee isn’t the only team and basketball isn’t the only sport in which Hill’s services have been used. He was also hired by Jeff Foster who heads National Football Scouting.

Foster insisted that Hill’s work could help the NFL evaluate quarterbacks, players who need special leadership abilities.

“I believe his insights could be valuable in helping teams understand an athlete’s emotional makeup and provide implications for how he may perform, both on and off the field,” Foster said.

While not everyone thinks that Dan Hill’s facial recognition project is effective, his reputation in pro sports is growing.

So is the reputation of the Milwaukee Bucks. A dormat in recent seasons, the Bucks boast a 14-15 record, good enough now for the sixth spot in the East.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at


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