Behind The ScenesESPNU

Newly re-signed ESPN prep basketball guru Biancardi reflects on stellar 10 years

August 2008: Paul Biancardi and then-ESPN commentator Dwayne Ballen cover the Boost Mobile Elite 24 in Harlem. (Lorenzo Bevilaqua/ESPN)

For the last 10 years at ESPN, Paul Biancardi has shared his lifelong passion for basketball with fans everywhere.

The national recruiting director of high school basketball recently signed a new deal with ESPN, which allows the Boston native to continue sharing his insights on the sport both at the prep and collegiate level.

“I am so fortunate to have played in high school and college,” said Biancardi, who played for current Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau when both were at Salem State on Boston’s North Shore in the 1980s. “I coached for over 20 years, and now I have the privilege to be deeply involved in the game as an analyst for ESPN. I love the way my job has so much versatility in the game. It starts at the high school level and carries over into college basketball and even the NBA Draft.”

Before joining ESPN in 2006 as a college and high school basketball analyst, Biancardi was the head coach at Wright State University, where he was named Horizon League Coach of the Year in 2004. He also had extensive stints as an assistant coach at Ohio State and Boston College.

My role has a profound meaning above ranking and analyzing the best high players in the nation. You get to know each player and their families and coaches—all the people that are important to the player on a personal level. That’s special.
– Paul Biancardi

After coaching for one year at St. Louis University, he returned to ESPN in 2008. Biancardi became ESPN’s national recruiting director, following some of the most prominent athletes from their early years in high school.

“I’m fortunate in that I have the chance to see prospects early in their career. I analyze their growth, or lack thereof, and track their progress,” he said. “That helps a great deal when I call college basketball games or work in studio, as I have a deeper perspective of players during a matchup. In some ways, it feels like a coach watching their players grow up.”

Biancardi gets to know players on and off the court.

“My role has a profound meaning above ranking and analyzing the best high players in the nation,” he said. “You get to know each player and their families and coaches—all the people that are important to the player on a personal level. That’s special.”

Across both high school and college basketball, Biancardi works about 40 events each year, including the Peach Jam (2 p.m. ET, ESPNU) this Sunday, as part of ESPNU’s Summer of Next. He’s attended many camps and events away from his TV role, watching and evaluating thousands of Division I prospects. He is also a member of the prestigious McDonald’s All-American Selection Committee.

Biancardi said there’s no place he’d rather be than at a practice or a game. Among his favorite memories include reporting on National Signing Day, the McDonald’s All-American Scrimmage and Selection Show, and Champ Week. Another highlight of his ESPN career: he and play-by-play commentator Mike Couzens covered the 2016 DICK’s Sporting Goods High School Nationals at Madison Square Garden, when Oak Hill won with a buzzer-beater shot over La Lumiere.

“A few years ago, I was sent to work a Harvard-Boston College game,” Biancardi said. “I’m a native Bostonian and met my wife at BC, so making the trip was extremely memorable. I worked alongside [commentator] Tom Hart and we had a blast.”

Biancardi will continue to work on ESPN’s high school and college basketball coverage.

“Over the years, I have worked with amazing people, including hosts Matt Schick and Anish Shroff, and have partnered up with some outstanding play-by-play professionals, who are fantastic people and friends today – Justin Kutcher, Joe Davis, Adam Amin, Roy Philpott, Mike Couzens and Ted Emrich. A big thank you to [remote production producers] Neil Gallow, Lori Mancini and Russ Whinnem — they have been fixtures on the high school games and they are as good as it gets.”

For news and updates, follow him on Twitter: @PaulBiancardi.

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