EXCLUSIVE: Inside The NBA analyst and former NBA star Kenny Smith has inked a multi-series pact with director-producer Deon Taylor (Meet The Blacks), which includes a zinger out the gate in the shape of new reality TV show Ready For The League, showcasing 2018’s hottest college basketball talent.
The pact is formally between Taylor’s Hidden Empire Film Group and Smith’s SEG Productions and the duo are already underway on their first show, in which Smith, one of the most respected NBA analysts around, will profile a different draft prospect in each 30-minute episode. Taylor, himself a former college player at San Diego State and later a pro in Germany, will direct.
In a similar vein to Jon Gruden’s QB Camp series for ESPN, two-time NBA champ Smith will sit down with college stars and discuss what it takes to make it in the pro league both on and off the court. Interviewees will include Oklahoma’s Trae Young (whose segment is already in the can), Duke’s Marvin Bagley and Arizona’s Deandre Ayton. Current and past NBA stars will join Smith to share advice for the younger players.
The series was jointly created and produced by Smith and his wife and producing partner Gwendolyn Osborne-Smith, through their SEG Productions banner, and Taylor’s Hidden Empire Film Group, in which he is partners with Roxanne Avent and Robert F. Smith.
The team will also shoot footage at the NBA draft which gets underway on June 21 in New York. A broadcast partner has yet to be assigned for the show.
“Coming from a basketball background, I couldn’t be more excited to partner with Kenny on this project and shine a light on these up-and-coming NBA stars,” said Taylor. “We’re able to showcase a side of the draft process and ask questions that people haven’t necessarily been exposed to before in what these young men go through and tell a story that transcends sports.”
Said Kenny Smith: “We are excited to partner with both Robert, who has an unparalleled business acumen and eye for success and Deon, who has quickly become the ‘go to guy’ in the world of entertainment, creating great TV and film content – the two of them being mavericks in the world of business and entertainment.”
Director and producer Taylor is on a roll. As we revealed during Cannes, his latest film The Intruder, starring Dennis Quaid, Meaghan Good, and Michael Ealy, was snapped up by Sony’s Screen Gems in a world rights deal. With Jamie Foxx, he produced recently-shot comedy feature All-Star Weekend, starring Foxx, Robert Downey Jr., Gerard Butler and Eva Longoria and he just wrapped his Meet The Blacks sequel The House Next Door, starring Mike Epps, Katt Williams, Rick Ross and Danny Trejo. His latest film Traffik was released last month by Lionsgate. Taylor’s projects are financed by his longtime business partner and lead investor, Robert F. Smith, founder of major private equity firm Vista Equity Partners. He is represented by WME.
SEG Productions’ previous credits include 2015 reality TV show Meet The Smiths (about Kenny and Gwendolyne), which aired on TBS, and Late Night Snack on truTV. Former North Carolina, Sacramento Kings and Houston Rockets (where he won his two titles) star Smith has worked on TNT’s NBA postgame show Inside The NBA for a decade. He was recently rumored to be a candidate for the Detroit Pistons head coaching job.