Behind The Scenes

‘Big Handsome’, Cody Zeller, gets big treatment for The Mag’s cover

ESPN The Magazine’s College Basketball preview issue is now on-sale.

ESPN The Magazine‘s College Basketball issue offers fans insight into the season ahead and how those who tune in only for the “Madness” are missing out on the magic it takes to get there.

Front Row caught up with The Mag’s Editor In Chief Chad Millman and Deputy Photo Editor Karen Frank on their cover subject, Indiana’s top prospect, Cody Zeller, also known as “Big Handsome” — the seven-footer expected to lead the on-going revival of Hoosiers basketball.

How did the cover conceit come about (to use cheerleaders) and what were you looking to capture?
CM: We put a high profile player from one of the top-ranked teams on the cover every year. Indiana had been a preseason No. 1 since the second last season ended. When we first started planning the issue (The Mag’s College Basketball Editor) Jenn Holmes told me she wanted Senior Writer Elena Bergeron to do a Cody Zeller story and thought he should be on the cover. I said ‘Great.’

KF: [VP/Creative Director, Print and Digital Media] John [Korpics], Chad and I met to talk about the cover shoot. The idea of cheerleaders came up almost immediately. We wanted an energetic cover that would get our readers excited about the beginning of the college basketball season.

In Bergeron’s The gospel according to Cody Zeller, he comes across as a down-to-earth kid and a regular prankster. What was your initial and overall impression of him?
KF: Cody is down-to-earth, laid back, confident and very sweet. I didn’t experience the prankster side of his personality, but there was plenty of laughter on set, and he seemed to have a great time with the cheerleaders.

Chad, you, like Sage Steele, are a proud Indiana alum. Did that have any influence on the cover?
CM: Of course!

In this podcast, ESPN The Magazine’s Chad Millman talks to Dan Hanner of about the metrics he used to make the NCAAB rankings and Ryan Hockensmith about the confidential series in the magazine.

ESPN’s comprehensive coverage of the 2012-13 men’s college basketball season gets underway tonight at 5:30 p.m. ET and over the first six days will feature 54 games across platforms. It starts from Germany with Michigan State and UConn in the “Armed Forces Classic” and is followed by the “Barclays Center Classic Presented by Sheets” game between Maryland and Kentucky at 8:30 p.m.

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