John Wall, heard of him?
Okay, good. David Falk recently made him the “official” number one overall draft pick of the Washington Wizards. Didn’t know Falk, as Evan Turner’s agent, still had that power.
All kidding aside, Wall has been the pick for a long time now. The hype surrounding the assumption he would be taken by the Wizards became so pressurized that even small considerations of taking Turner became unreasonable — potentially creating another situation akin to when the Timberwolves traded Brandon Roy for Randy Foye.
Not saying that the schism between Foye and Roy as players would be emulated by Turner and Wall, Turner could very well be better. But a selection of Turner over Wall would create a situation where you’d have one player being measured in comparison to the other before they ever step on the court (I know, with Roy and Foye it was a little bit different).
Sounds unfair, and perhaps an irrational buy into the hype. So, I guess it’s silly to play this ‘what-if’ game and Wizards fans should just continue with the assumption they’ve been making all along, that John Wall is coming to D.C., and not look back … even though Ted Leonsis says he’s not allowed to talk about Wall. Curious, since barely after the Los Angeles Clippers won the 2009 NBA Draft Lottery, Mike Dunleavy, who severed ties with the franchise in March 2010, said, “Clearly, we’re taking Blake Griffin.” The day after winning the lottery, the Clippers began a marketing campaign featuring Griffin.
Nonetheless, in the spirit of Wall assumptions, it’d be useful to ask some Kentucky fans to share their knowledge about Wall with Wizards fans. Guy Ramsey is the head UK writer for StraitPinkie.com, a site dedicated to Louisville and Kentucky sports. To start, I’ve asked Guy about Wall’s point guard leadership and the perception basketball-crazed Kentucky fans have of one-and-done guys like him.
TAI: What were you able to observe about Wall’s leadership, specifically, his interaction with teammates? Do you recall a time where he got on another player to keep him in check? Was Wall a particularly vocal point guard?
Guy: From the second that John Wall stepped on campus, he embraced everything that came with being THE guy at UK, even as UK returned a star like Patrick Patterson. Patterson played a major role, but make no mistake, last year’s UK team was John Wall’s. Wall quickly and easily took over in early close games, but as the team grew, he was more concerned with his gifted teammates getting touches more than anything else. At times when Patterson or DeMarcus Cousins was being forgotten, he went out of his way to tell Calipari “Let’s get Pat the ball”, or “Let’s get the ball to Big Cuz”.
TAI: I can’t recall the exact incident, but maybe you can help me out … it seems like there was a mini-dust up about Wall saying something contrary to John Calipari’s coaching. Was it a miscommunication? Was it a minor speed bump on the road to a trustful player-coach relationship? How did Wall and Calipari seem to interact with each other?
Guy: You are remembering correctly, there was a widely reported tiff between Calipari and Wall early in SEC play. It was at a point in the season when teams were building their defenses around stopping Wall in the open court and also a time when big man DeMarcus Cousins was asserting himself as a go-to guy.
TAI: Kentucky fans are pretty passionate about Wall. What’s their opinion of him leaving after one year? Are some in the fan base against one-and-done players like him, or do they understand the situation going in and that it’s apart of the process of being a college basketball powerhouse in this day and age? Would winning a championship as a freshman, a la Carmelo Anthony, have affected opinion in his regard?
Guy: As I said before, Wall embraced Big Blue Nation from day one. He was excellent with fans at every juncture, stayed on top of his schoolwork, and showed reverence for the program. UK fans recognized that they had a one year lease on John Wall and were thankful every step along the way for it. Wall truly sealed his legacy with the way he finished up his spring semester with a 3.5 GPA when he had really no reason to do it.