John Wall is growing up. The nation's top point guard in the class of 2009 is fine tuning his game at Word of God High School in Raleigh, N.C. and separating himself from the rest of the pack in his class.
The 6-foot-3, 175-pound point guard was the gas in the engine for Word of God's championship run at the GlaxoSmithKline. Wall said winning the tournament in front of the home crowd was a nice post-Christmas gift for him and his teammates.
"It felt good because going into the tournament I knew everybody was talking about Taft and DeMatha. They were the big powerhouse names from out of the state," Wall said. "I felt like if our team played together and played as a team then we would have a chance to pull it out and win the whole thing.
"It feels good to be the first team to win it since 1989. Everybody wanted us to win and we wanted to win it so we could keep it home. Plus, we got the bragging rights and we can say we won a national tournament."
Wall didn't post astronomical numbers in terms of scoring, something that he is certainly capable of doing. Instead, he played the role of the set up man beautifully and fed NC State bound sophomore C.J. Leslie for score after score. Wall orchestrated his team wonderfully and was under control in the backcourt.
"Our team wasn't concerned about who was scoring the most points every night. We were concerned about playing hard and listening to our coach. Whoever led us in scoring, just led is in scoring. We only cared about winning," Wall said.
"I think I've always had that mentality (of being a set up man) but I've never really had a trust in my teammates like I do now. After the summer, I knew that I needed to come in and not do as much scoring as I used to because I had a good player like C.J. Leslie and the rest of the team to look to. I knew that I had it in me but I never really had a chance to show it."
Wall's maturation has been the biggest revelation of his game so far this season.
"I think I've matured a whole lot. When I was younger, I considered myself as a guy that just score first then pass second. I feel like I'm maturing every game out," Wall said.
"I'm trying to the kind of point guard that doesn't have to score 20, 30 points a game. I want to help my team win. That's what it is all about. We have a lot of good point guards in my class but I think most of them are going to try to score first. I want to separate myself this year and I think I've been able to do that."
Wall's ability to change the game with his speed and athleticism is somewhat similar to Memphis rookie Derrick Rose. And like Rose, Wall is starting to show that he can affect a game with his unselfishness and ability to set his teammates up.
Wall and his Word of God teammates won by one on a buzzer-beater shot against Tyreke Evans and his American Christian team last Saturday in Virginia Beach. Wall tipped in a missed shot for the win. He scored 22 points and handed out 13 assists in the victory.
It doesn't come as a big surprise that Wall's recruitment spans the nation and nearly every high-major looking for a point guard is interested. The five-star junior said he hasn't had a chance to trim his long list down to a more manageable number.
"I think it's still wide open for everybody," Wall said. "I think by the end of next week, I can give you a top 10, top 15 list. There are a lot of schools in there right now."
Wall said Roy Williams, Dave Leitao and Sidney Lowe have seen him in action this year while assistant coaches from nearly every school on his lengthy list have been in as well at some point this high school year.
Oklahoma State, Kentucky, Duke and others are also very much involved, he said. Wall has unofficially visited Duke, Kentucky, NC State and North Carolina to date. He added that he hopes to get to Oklahoma State when the Cowboys play host to Texas.
"There are a couple of schools that are coming hard. Coach Leitao has been coming hard. NC State has been coming hard. Carolina is coming hard a little bit. But it's hard for them because they already have there point guard already. Vanderbilt has been coming hard lately. Duke is coming into the mix. There are a lot that are in there.
"I want to go to a school with good academics. I want to go somewhere that I know that I can fit in and play and where the coach treats his players well. I want to ask the players that have played for that coach how he is with them."
Wall is clearly carving out a path to any high-major he wants with his play this season. What's next? He says he want to have a seamless team first. Then a championship. The rest, he says, will come in time.