ESPN’s Andy Katz is the Swiss Army knife of reporters. He contributes daily to ESPN.com, has his own college basketball show on ESPNU and co-hosts a podcast with analyst Seth Greenberg that also airs on ESPN Radio. Katz is hardly one to let his skill-set sit around collecting rust, so while college basketball takes a seat on the bench, he continues reporting from the NBA Draft beat.
ESPNU’s coverage of the NBA Draft Combine begins today at 10 a.m. ET. The exclusive live telecast will include interviews as well as an inside look at how the expected top draft picks fair in several skills challenges. Front Row sat down with the newly re-signed Katz to discuss this year’s Combine:
How have you seen the Combine grow?
It has grown as an event by being televised, where in the past, it was not. This has certainly added to its profile.
How do you keep up with both NCAA and NBA goings-on?
I’ve covered the college players throughout their career so that’s a natural. I see NBA scouts/GMs and decision makers at games during the season and stay in touch with them. The relationships that I usually have to rekindle at this time of the year are with the agents. The decision makers are incredibly active at this time of the year.
What is your favorite part?
I love being able to see who looks pedestrian and who stands out as a real potential prize. This event is a great equalizer. Star college players can look very small if they don’t perform on this stage. The pressure is on them to make sure they show well.
Do you have a favorite Combine moment?
I remember [Miami Heat executive] Pat Riley watching [2008 draft prospect] Michael Beasley goof off and thinking at that time [Beasley] wasn’t going to the Heat. [Beasley did, in fact, go to the heat with the second overall draft pick.] But I love seeing the ‘80s iconic figures of [Katz’s hometown] Celtics simply hanging out. There were times when you could easily see Danny Ainge, Larry Bird and Kevin McHale sitting side-by-side chatting.
Who has the most to prove at this year’s Combine?
Virginia Tech’s Erick Green was the ACC Player of the Year. If he shows well he still has a chance to be one of the top point guards taken and move quite steadily up and into the first round. The SEC Player of the Year, Georgia’s Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, also has a real chance to shine in this event. He could be someone who really shines in the specialty evaluations.
Who should viewers pay the closest attention to?
Players tend to drop out of some of the drills at the last minute. This is a guard’s event since big men don’t have as much of a chance to stand out aside from displaying their mobility, size and strength. Murray State’s Isaiah Canaan has been a popular player to hype of late. Canaan will have the ball in his hands a lot over the two days. If he creates some buzz, he has a real shot to be like Weber State’s Damian Lillard [this year’s NBA Rookie of the Year] and get in the lottery.