May 20, 2009

Wall makes it official, signs with Wildcats

In the end, it went down to the wire for the nation's top-rated basketball prospect in the Class of 2009.

Five-star Raleigh (N.C.) Word of God Academy point guard John Wall held a press conference at his school Wednesday - the final day of the spring signing period - to officially confirm that he will be attending the University of Kentucky.

The 6-foot-4, 180-pound Wall ended a long and admittedly stressful recruiting process by picking the Wildcats over Duke, Florida and Miami.

Kentucky also officially announced it had received his letter-of-intent, capping the nation's No. 1 recruiting class for 2009. Wall joins five-star forward DeMarcus Cousins, five-star center Daniel Orton, four-star guard Eric Bledsoe, four-star wing Jon Hood and four-star junior college transfer Darnell Dodson, a forward, in a UK class that many analysts are hailing as one of the best of all time.

"I've recruited John for nearly two years and I've gotten to know him to be not only a fine player but a fine person," UK coach John Calipari said in a press release announcing the signing. "He's a terrific teammate who wants to win, yet driven to personally improve. I'm very excited for the opportunity to add him to our family."

During his press conference, Wall outlined the reasons why he chose to wear the blue and white.

"My relationship with Coach Cal," he said. "From the beginning, he told me this was going to be a tough process, that it wouldn't be easy. The Dribble-Drive (Motion) offense fits my style of play perfect, and he's just a great coach of point guards. He knows what he's doing to get them to the next level and develop them as players. I also wanted to go to a school that could compete for a national championship and to a school that would help me become a great student."

Some have questioned whether Wall will be around long enough at the college level to think about his academic future, but he tried to dismiss the notion that he was a "one and done" player en route to the NBA.

"My plan is to go to the University of Kenutcky for two or three years," he said, "and if some time coach Cal says it's time to go, that's when I'll go."

Many have compared Wall's game to that of former Memphis standout Derrick Rose, who starred one year under Calipari before making the jump to the Chicago Bulls.

"The comparisons kind of convinced me" that he should also play for Calipari, Wall said. "What Derrick did at Memphis, I think I can do the same thing at Kentucky."

Like many top prospects, Wall's recruitment was besieged by rumors for months. Observers pondered how his relationship with AAU coaches and other influential mentors would factor into the final decision.

"A lot of people tried to give me advice, but in the end it was my decision, and I wanted to attend the University of Kentucky," Wall said.

Wall noted that he was excited about the prospect of playing with five other highly-regarded newcomers at UK to go along with Patrick Patterson and possibly Jodie Meeks should the senior guard choose to forgo the NBA Draft.

"Oh yeah, I talk to those guys a lot," he said. "There's going to be high expectations for us. As the point guard, I'm just going to come in and try to make everybody better and win games. But I know it's going to be tough because a lot of freshmen (have to adjust) to a new team and a new coach. We'll have to work hard, try to become better players and win a national championship."

Just don't try to put a "Fab Five" label on Wall's class.

"We're trying to go in and start our own legacy," he said.



 

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