At first glance, you’d think that the College Basketball Awards and “General Hospital” have nothing in common.
The sports awards — which aired on Disney-owned ESPN — and the long-running soap — airing daily on Disney-owned ABC — had a unique crossover this week.
Newly-crowned Women’s National Champion A’ja Wilson from the University of South Carolina and Villanova’s Josh Hart visited the “General Hospital” set to shoot a segment for the College Basketball Awards show.
The pair got to run lines with cast members Donnell Turner and Hayley Econ in a specially-written scene created just for them (captured in the video above).
And if you thought soap acting was hammy, then you ain’t seen nothing yet.
“The most fun thing has been going on ‘General Hospital’ and getting the actress side of me out. Josh was a great co-pilot to have … for us to get our inner actor and actress out,” Wilson told TheWrap.
Don’t expect her to give up the dream of being a WNBA star quite yet, however. “I’ve taken theater class at high school but that was about it. Maybe acting could be in my future, but it was really hard — and I didn’t even have to memorize my lines!”
As for which was more nerve-wracking — playing in the national championship against Mississippi State or appearing on “General Hospital” — the answer was easy. “I think I had a lot more pressure acting than playing in a basketball game,” Wilson said.
While Wilson had a few acting chops, Hart had zero — and it showed.
“A couple of times I couldn’t even remember my lines, I just couldn’t do it,” he said, but still, “it was really cool, we had a blast. I’ve never watched ‘General Hospital’ before but I probably will when I get back,” the 22-year-old added.
Soap actor probably isn’t in Hart’s future, but sportscaster might be — after he’s tried his hand in the NBA, of course.
“I would love to do commentary on ‘College Game Day,’ that is more my realm. Something like Jay Bilas on ESPN,” he said.
As for the upcoming NBA Draft on May 16, “I’m a little nervous — it’s a bit of the unknown,” Hart admitted.
The strange crossover was planned by ESPN Coordinating Producer Baron Miller, after brainstorming over how they could unite some of Disney’s properties ahead of the College Basketball Awards. “Last year we did a tie-in with ‘Dancing With the Stars,'” Miller told TheWrap. “Now we thought it would be cool to do something with ‘General Hospital’ as the players would be out of their element and it would be over the top.
“We connected with the executive producer and they weren’t even shooting the show but still lit up the set, brought in two actors and wrote up a script,” he said of the impromptu segment. “That was a lot of work for two-and-a-half minutes.
“We took the players to the studio in the guise that we were showing them an L.A. experiences, but they knew pretty quickly this wasn’t going to be just a tour, then we told them ‘now that you are here, we need to short a scene.'”
Next year, Miller is hoping to incorporate an ABC sitcom such as “Black-ish” or “Modern Family” with the players.
“Awards shows are fun, so you don’t want to put out run-of-the-mill content — you want to deliver best of the year, and make it comfortable — even for the losers — to cut the tension,” he said.
Following UNC’s redemption win over Gonzaga on Monday, the college basketball season officially ended by honoring the best of the best at the The Novo by Microsoft in downtown Los Angeles.
Along with the “GH” skit, the show featured a mockumentary starring rapper/comedian Lil Dicky paying a visit to UCLA guard Lonzo Ball’s house.
In addition, actors Mayim Bialik (“The Big Bang Theory”) and Danny Pudi (“Community”), and former Wooden Award winners TJ Ford (2003) and Hall of Fame player Ralph Sampson (1982 & 1983), will appeared during the telecast, while Hall of Fame players Julius Erving, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone and Jerry West were among those handing out awards.
Debuting a new, 90-minute format, the awards celebration saw winners named for: John R. Wooden Award presented by Wendy’s (Player of the Year – Men), John R. Wooden Award (Player of the Year – Women), John R. Wooden Award (Legends of Coaching),Bob Cousy Award presented by College of the Holy Cross (Point Guard of the Year), Jerry West Award (Shooting Guard of the Year), Julius Erving Award (Small Forward of the Year), Karl Malone Award (Power Forward of the Year) and the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award (Center of the Year).
The College Basketball Awards Presented by Wendy’s aired live on ESPN2.
Related stories from TheWrap: