While books and movies have shed light on the world of big-time amateur basketball, no one has published stories along the way – until now. With the first story in a series, Detroit sportswriter Larry Lage and others in a team from Sports established AP as the authority on news about Emoni Bates, a 13-year-old who stands at 6-foot-7, just started the eighth grade and is primed to be the biggest basketball prospect in the United States. The goal is to understand the high-pressure world of college basketball recruiting by following a single promising player’s path.
Lage, hybrid video journalist Mike Householder and photographer Paul Sancya of Detroit reported with the specific intent of presenting the stories in multiple ways, then worked with Chicago sports writer Jim Litke and east regional sports editor Oskar Garcia to craft the hub presentation of the text, photos, video and audio.
Emoni Bates, a 13-year-old who stands at 6-foot-7, just started the eighth grade and is primed to be the biggest basketball prospect in the United States
Lage came up with the idea of following Emoni from seventh grade through 12th grade, and was able to make contact with his father through Facebook. He talked with the family and they agreed to take part. From there, Lage, Householder, Sancya and Indianapolis photographer Michael Conroy spent time with the Bates family at home, at practice and at a youth tournament, gathering visuals and color that would form the basis for a new hub called "The Kid," with the idea that it will be the home for all news on Emoni going forward – on personal decisions like where to go to high school and how to juggle being a teen and a Youtube sensation, and on his perspectives experiencing major issues in the larger hoops world
The team worked with Litke and Garcia to build the mainbar on a
compelling narrative that incorporated the visual elements with the
text, and to fill the hub with social-friendly videos, photo galleries
and a 24-minute supercut of Lage’s primary interview with Emoni’s
The resulting story ended up garnering more engagement than any story on apnews.com on Sept. 21, an impressive feat given an earthquake in Mexico and hurricane news strongly carrying the cycle, according to Mark Davies, global news manager at the Nerve Center. The story was No. 1 in total engagement time and peak concurrents and No. 2 in average engagement time. The hub was also immediately given as an example during a digital boot camp that was happening in New York the day the story hit.
The team also created social-specific teasers and videos, including a main video that had nearly 29,000 views on Twitter and a strong completion rate of 5 percent, as well as a photo collage designed for viewing as individual images or four photos together as presented on mobile and desktop.
For their strong, revealing work, Lage, Householder, Sancya and Litke share this week’s $300 Best of the States prize.