The Wooden Award is an annual prize that honors the best men’s and women’s college basketball players. Named after former UCLA head coach John R. Wooden, who lead his team to a whopping 10 NCAA Championships from 1963-1975 (during which time the Bruins also racked up a nearly unthinkable 88-straight wins), the prize today named its list 25 finalists. Due to an insanely good freshman class, including Duke’s Jabari Parker and Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins, it should be a fun race this year. I mean, not Super Bowl fun, but more fun than, say, watching 10 minutes of Pro Bowl.
Anyway, Wendy’s is the official sponsor behind this thing, and starring in a new online spot from Kansas City-based WPP agency VML debuting today is ESPN basketball analyst Jay Bilas. A Duke alum, Bilas led the Blue Devils to an NCAA Championship game in 1986 (they lost the title to Louisville) as a player and won two championships in the ’90s as an assistant coach. He’s joined here by “The Drain,” a humorous archetype of 1970s hoopsters which has been done nearly to death since Will Ferrell released Semi-Pro six years ago. (Hey, Andre 3000 was in the movie. Weird.)
The copy starts strong, with Bilas calling The Drain’s jumper “so smooth that it would get a co-ed’s number on the way to the rim,” but from there, the spot sort of stagnates. Perhaps it’s because the jokes just aren’t as good as the aforementioned simile. Perhaps it’s because, as I’ve said, we’ve seen this superfly funny-looking character TOTALLY DONE TO DEATH, which I’ve capitalized mid-sentence so you know that I mean it. In any case, this spot is the first of five coming out between now and the April 11-12 awards show. So, let’s hope VML and Wendy’s (which have been working together since late 2012) shake things up.