Behind The ScenesStarting 5

Trae Young turns to Woj and ESPN to get his message out

When Oklahoma’s Trae Young was ready to announce he was going pro, he knew ESPN was the place to deliver his message. (Photo by Phil Ellsworth/ESPN Images)

Last Thursday, after his Oklahoma Sooners were bounced from the NCAA Tournament – in overtime by Rhode Island – freshman phenom Trae Young wasn’t ready to discuss his future plans.

Today, via an as-told-to story with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Young revealed he will be entering June’s NBA Draft after one season in Norman.

“I’ve had an ongoing conversation with the Young family and we discussed in recent days the possibility of breaking the story on our platforms,” Wojnarowski said. “To me, it was confirmation that people see the power of the breadth, scope and credibility of breaking stories with us. Our ability to reach more people in more diverse ways, be it TV, mobile, digital, radio or wherever, is not lost on today’s athlete.”

“As a family we thought it would be very important for Trae to work with Adrian on his announcement,” Trae’s dad Ray told Front Row. “Trae is about to embark on a lifetime dream of playing in the NBA. As far as a person who covers the NBA, there was no second thoughts on who we should break the story with – it had to be Woj. Not to mention using the vehicle of ESPN, the WORLDWIDE leader in sports news and entertainment.”

Wojnarowski worked on the story with Young and his dad, Rayford, over the course of Monday and broke the news Tuesday morning on ESPN.com and SportsCenter, where a Wojnarowski essay, “Trae’s Day,” was also featured. At ESPN.com, Insider Jonathan Givony posted his latest Mock Draft, where Young is projected to go eighth to Chicago. Additionally on Insider, Givony and Draft expert Mike Schmitz examined whether “Young’s Steph Curry-like game [can] keep up in the NBA?” (Schmitz will also appear on today’s 6 p.m. SportsCenter.)

“At ESPN, we are uniquely suited to help athletes share their stories with the greatest impact possible,” said ESPN.com’s NBA deputy editor, Cristina Daglas. “Our reach is unparalleled, with thriving international (Tencent in China for example) and national audiences, through digital, social and television. It’s always exciting to help a story like Trae’s come to life and see it flourish.”

Young’s story was among the traffic leaders on ESPN.com throughout Tuesday and the initial tweet from the @SportsCenter account received more than 13,000 likes and nearly 4,000 retweets.

“This further illustrates our ability to surround a story and the rollout of that story – whether it’s a player declaring for the Draft or a free agent choosing their next team,” Wojnarowski said. “We’re going to continue being really aggressive in pursuing the biggest breaking stories and then digging into the layers of those stories with unmatched context, analysis and storytelling.”

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Trae Young is also scheduled to join Scott Van Pelt on the midnight (ET) SportsCenter.