Kentucky approached ESPN, not the other way around, with the idea of televising a practice.
"Kentucky came to us," said Dan Margulis, senior director of college sports programming at ESPN. "They were working on a special practice and asked if we were interested. And we were."
This telephone conversation in August began the process that will result in the ESPNU telecast of Kentucky's practice from 3 to 5 p.m. Friday. UK's "special practice" involved what has become known as an on-campus NBA "combine."
NBA scouts and personnel may watch Kentucky's many pro prospects Friday and Saturday. Then, Coach John Calipari has said, UK practices will be closed to pro scouts for an undetermined time.
ESPN found irresistible the lure of a highly regarded Kentucky team packed with nine McDonald's All-Americans and maybe even more NBA prospects.
"Obviously, it's a pretty special group at Kentucky this year," Margulis said this week. "So it makes sense to do it."
ESPN and UK worked out a mutually beneficial date to televise the practice, Margulis said.
"We look who's on Kentucky's roster," Margulis said. "They're going to be a top-five team, obviously. ... To get that kind of inside access that was being offered up for us to show our fans and college sports fans was sort of a unique opportunity."
Kentucky's McDonald's All-Americans are Alex Poythress, Dakari Johnson, Aaron Harrison, Andrew Harrison, Marcus Lee, Trey Lyles, Karl-Anthony Towns, Tyler Ulis and Devin Booker. UK also returns 7-foot junior Willie Cauley-Stein, who made the coaches' All-Southeastern Conference Defensive Team last season.
Margulis said ESPN analyst Chad Ford included 10 Kentucky players among his top 100 prospects for the 2015 NBA Draft.
That is likely to attract viewers interested in college and/or NBA basketball.
ESPNU plans to have no fewer than five announcers working the practice.
Margulis called Jay Bilas and former Virginia Tech Coach Seth Greenberg "college experts." Bilas also crosses over to NBA fans with his work on the draft each year.
Former NBA player and coach Avery Johnson helps "that draft angle," Margulis said.
ESPN.com's Myron Medcalf can work the blogosphere and act as sideline reporter.
The practice telecast also is something of a trial run/debut for former UK All-American Tony Delk, who Margulis said will work for ESPN this season.
When asked why ESPNU assigned five announcers to the Kentucky practice, Margulis said: "We want to treat it like a big event. And make sure because it's a practice, it gives us time to explain what's going on and fill time that might be a little less compelling. And when it's compelling, just let the action speak for itself."
Hall of Fame sportswriter Bob Ryan found the idea that a practice is must-see TV difficult to comprehend.
"I've seen enough generic practices," he said. "They're not that interesting."
Of course, Kentucky and ESPNU hope Friday will be anything but a generic practice.
"You're talking about a top team," Margulis said, "and a practice we get in and get access to live. ...
"And they scheduled it on a day that really works well for us."
Friday will be a Kentucky-themed day for ESPNU. After the UK practice, ESPNU will televise a high school football game: Pulaski County at Madison Southern.
The football telecast, scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m., could feature highly rated running back Damien Harris, one of UK's top recruiting targets.
A leg injury has clouded Harris' status for the game. But even if he doesn't play, ESPNU plans to televise the game, spokesman Derek Volner said.