Each year there are a variety of sports media talents that break out and elevate their stature. This past year it was highlighted by Laura Rutledge, Maria Taylor, and Liam McHugh. This list projects 19 talents in sports media, in no particular order, that are set up for that type of year in 2019 regardless of their age, time in the industry, or how well-known they currently are. Factors include the expectation of how much their respective company will push them, and evaluations of how trends are looking over the past few months.
Chiney Ogwumike – ESPN
Chiney Ogwumike is a WNBA All-Star and simultaneously one of ESPN’s fastest rising NBA analysts. She has made an impact on her time so far on Get Up which is becoming a device to elevate many of the network’s young talents. Ogwumike will be adding Hoop Streams to her resume this season: The upcoming Twitter-based NBA pre-game will offer fans an innovative viewing experience with Ogwumike, Cassidy Hubbarth, and Treavor Scales leading into ESPN’s biggest NBA games.
Dwyane Wade – Presumptive media free agent
The legendary career of Dwyane Wade is coming to an end on the basketball court in 2019. So, what is next? It widely presumed in media circles that the future Hall of Famer will be highly sought-after for some type of analyst role. Wade spent time during the 2015 NBA Finals as a guest analyst on ESPN’s NBA Countdown. Given the show has been a constant revolving door in terms of its on-air talents, it makes sense on several levels that ESPN could be in his future. TNT’s coverage has had much less flux, but if Wade is interested in color commentary perhaps they could see him as the basketball version of Tony Romo? In addition, NBATV has proven to be a fit for an abundance of former NBA players.
Tom Haberstroh – NBC Sports
The former ESPN and Bleacher Report writer and podcaster is now in his first basketball season as the NBC regional NBA insider. Haberstroh is a versatile multi-media talent whose savvy insight finds angles and talking points not found anywhere else. He is one of the few writers today who can create must-read long-form NBA pieces that do not include juicy player-movement nuggets. The same can be said about his presence on Twitter with his short “Big Number” clips.
Rachel Bonnetta – FS1
Making a name for yourself as the host of a sports show with more than one strongly opinionated pundit has long been a challenge. Rachel Bonnetta has been able to do that early on with FS1’s Lock It In next to Clay Travis, Cousin Sal, and Todd Fuhrman. (The Big Lead’s editor-in-chief Jason McIntyre is an on-air personality on the show as well.) It has been a fast rise for the energetic, witty personality who was hosting digital World Cup videos a summer ago. Bonnetta has a chance this year to really help grow gambling content and show it can translate to fun discussion on television.
Ryan Ruocco – YES Network, ESPN, and DAZN
It won’t be long until Ryan Ruocco is a household name en route to becoming one of the preeminent all-around play-by-players. While his future could include being the heir to Mike Breen and the voice of the Yankees, he is set up for a career-advancing 2019. Ruocco has added boxing to his to-do list at DAZN where there is hope he can become one of the top-notch fight callers. No sport is more reliant on the voice calling it than boxing is and it projects to elevate Ruocco at great lengths.