“Draft Date” takes on new meaning with SportsCenter’s John Anderson

John Anderson (Credit: ESPN / Producer Bryan Bishop)
John Anderson at his “speed drafting” table. (Credit: ESPN/Producer Bryan Bishop)

Leading up to Thursday’s NBA Draft, SportsCenter will present a different kind of “courting” in a pre-taped piece where anchor John Anderson speed dates through some of the top potential draftees.

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“All five players will be lined up at different tables, and John will speed date, asking quick, fun, personality-driven questions,” senior coordinating producer Tim McHugh said. “He’ll wear different team jerseys (Cavaliers, Bucks, Celtics and Lakers) and play the role of team management: ‘Hey, Andrew Wiggins, why do I want to pick you? I heard you like to tweet the Canadian Prime Minister, what do you know about the Governor of Ohio?’ and things like that.”

Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Marcus Smart, Dante Exum and Doug McDermott all agreed to participate in the piece.

“We had the idea about two months ago, and talked to their agents, their families and the league,” McHugh said. “In the past we’ve done straight talk backs with the top picks — an earpiece and three questions. We felt the magnitude of this year’s draft demanded more, so we wanted to try something different. At first we were going to do each player separately, but we decided to do them together – one player may laugh at another’s answer, so we’re hoping to get some spontaneous reaction from them.”

The shoot took place this afternoon at Manhattan’s Westin Hotel, with producers Brian Franey and Bryan Bishop facilitating the two-camera shoot and quick turn-around for tonight’s air and will run throughout the day tomorrow.

“John’s questions are pretty funny,” Franey said. “He asked Wiggins why he didn’t play hockey, and asked Parker if he’d go to Vegas with Manziel. After a day of media, it seems like a refreshing change for the players.”

ESPN will televise exclusively the 2014 NBA Draft presented by State Farm on Thursday, June 26, at 7 p.m. ET It marks the 12th consecutive year ESPN has televised the event and the second straight time from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Rece Davis will host coverage from the ESPN main set with ESPN college basketball Insider Jay Bilas and ESPN NBA analysts Jalen Rose and Bill Simmons.

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