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Fan Correspondent Waters feasts on tasty features

Reese Waters with the Culinary basketball team.
SportsCenter fan correspondent Reese Waters (green vest) says of The Culinary Institute of America’s men’s basketball team: “They are aggressively sweet with a zesty crust. . .Of people.”

You think it’s easy being SportsCenter’s Bank of America Fan Correspondent? Check out the rigorous regimen of food items Reese Waters consumed in his reporting of tonight’s feature on The Culinary Institute of America’s men’s basketball team (debuting in the 1 a.m.. ET SC).

“I had many artisan coffees, French toast, fruit salad, a turkey club, chocolate chip cookie, chocolate cupcake and butterscotch brownie,” Waters said. “Don’t judge me, I have a future family to feed.”

Waters, who is also a successful stand-up comedian, has been feeding a steady diet of Fan Correspondent delicacies since joining ESPN in the fall of 2014. Tonight’s entry, produced by Steve Buckheit, took Waters to the culinary college’s Hyde Park, N.Y., campus to spend time with the Steels’ hoops squad and head coach Tim McEnroe.

Reese’s Pieces: The SC Fan Correspondent’s favorite food-related sports monikers:

  • Sugar Ray Leonard
  • Sugar Ray Robinson
  • Jellybean Bryant
  •  Kobe Bryant
  • “And the all-time best will forever be John “Hot Plate” Williams.”

“Anytime you deal with college kids, you must be prepared for their hopeless optimism and willingness to snap you into their Snapchat story without asking – head on a swivel at all times,” said Waters, who not only attended a game but also took part in a halftime challah braiding contest.

“The Fan Correspondent stories have really evolved from initially just capturing fan sentiment to now meeting the fans’ sentiment with my own,” Waters said. “Thanks to a huge influx of new ideas from the Features group, I’ve been able to explore everything from the naivety of Cubs fans to the schizophrenia of Redskins fans (it takes one to know one).”

It’s not just been the assignments that have resulted in often hilarious surprises – Waters inevitably gets mistaken for a fellow ESPNer.

“The most surprising thing so far is how often I get ‘recognized’ as Stephen A. Smith,” he said. “Come on, man!”

Although mostly light in nature and presentation, make no mistake, the Fan Correspondent assignments are every bit as challenging as heavier pieces for the production team.

“We conduct pre-interviews with all the principles of a feature story before we mobilize with camera crews to cover a story or event,” Buckheit said. “We spoke with Coach McEnroe to get an idea for the team’s schedule and makeup, and we got a good sense of the culture on the Hyde Park, N.Y., campus.”

In the end, Waters was left with a tasty impression of the future chefs, bakers and hospitality specialists – one he summed up in food review style.

“They are aggressively sweet with a zesty crust. . .Of people,” he said.