Despite his youthful appearance and the date on his birth certificate, the freshman sensation is regarded by nearly every basketball talent evaluator as the premier player in the 2010 NBA Draft.
"John is a program builder not a taker, said Kentucky head coach John Calipari. "He has great pride in his ability and wants to make a statement this season. He's a player coaches dream about because he's a natural leader with the skill to make others better. His length should allow him to be a force on the defensive end from day one."
He has good size and outstanding athletic ability. Wall was the unquestioned leader of one of the most talented young squads in the NCAA last season, leading Kentucky a 35-3 record in 2009-10, tying the Wildcats' 1996-97 (35-5 record) and 1997-98 (35-4) teams for the second-best season record in school history, topped only by the 1947-48 team that compiled a 36-3 mark.
Those 35 victories helped the Wildcats become the first program in NCAA Division I history to reach 2,000 wins. The 2009-10 squad also helped the university record its NCAA record 12th 30-win season, the first coming in 1946-47. The Southeast Conference champion Wildcats were also the NCAA's last undefeated team last season, reeling off nineteen consecutive victories to begin Wall's only campaign in Blue Grass Country.
Wall has drawn comparisons to a pair of recent standout guards to be mentored by John Calipari, Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans. He not only electrified the Kentucky fans with his scoring touch, energy and ball-handling skills, but also became a fan favorite.
Even though he would suit up for only one season for Kentucky, and was limited early in the season with tendinitis in his knee, Wall's 616 points set the UK season-record for freshmen, as his 241 assists also broke the school freshman and overall annual mark. His 16 assists vs. Hartford established a team game-record. In addition to leading the team in scoring, assists and free throws made (175), the 6-3 guard showed his impressive defensive skills, pacing the Wildcats with 66 steals.
At Word of God Christian Academy, Wall averaged 22.1 points, 5.5 assists, 5.2 rebounds, 2.0 steals per game his senior season. He led the team to a runner-up finish in the North Carolina Class 1A state championship game as a senior and was named MVP of the Tournament of Champions at Missouri State University. He participated in the 2009 USA Nike Hoop Summit and Jordan Brand All-America game and was a finalist for the Naismith National High School Player of the Year. Rated the nation's top overall prospect, he also averaged 18 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds as a junior.
Prior to his arrival at Kentucky, Wall was charged with breaking and entering in Raleigh, North Carolina, on May 4, 2009, for a crime he committed on April 27, 2009, with two others. He admitted guilt, as a condition for entering a program for first-time offenders, and under the terms of the plea, was required to complete 100 hours of community service, pay court costs and program fees, and stay out of trouble for the next six months.
In 2009-10, Wall earned National Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year honors. The consensus All-American was also selected Southeastern Conference Player of the Year. In addition to setting records for most assists by a Wildcat in a season, his average of 6.5 assists per game ranked third in the nation.
Wall was bothered by knee tendinitis during the 2009 exhibition season and did not make his UK debut until the team's second regular-season contest after he was suspended by the NCAA from Kentucky's first exhibition game and first regular season game, for travel benefits he received from his AAU coach, Brian Clifton, who was a certified agent at the time. He scored in double figures 34 times in 37 games, registering a double-double (points-rebounds) five times.
Despite his impressive numbers, Wall did struggle with turnovers (144) at times. After a seven-turnover performance vs. Arkansas on Jan. 23, there were signs of a strained relationship between the Kentucky standout and his head coach.
The Wildcats' season ended with a March 27 loss to West Virginia in the NCAA Tournament. On April 7, Wall announced that he would forgo his final three seasons of collegiate eligibility and enter the 2010 NBA Draft and is widely expected to be the first overall selection.
Positives: Has ideal size (6-foot-4 with shoes), wingspan (6-9 1/4) and reach (8-5 1/2) teams look for in a point guard Unselfish player who can provide a nice array of moves to the basket, possessing above-average lateral quickness while playing with solid work ethic and leadership skills Shows excellent court vision and body language, as he using his athleticism and size to create mismatches vs. smaller guards Has the frame of a shooting guard, but Wall's athleticism, explosiveness and outstanding speed lead him to consistently elevate over the defender to execute an emphatic dunk while consistently beating his man with suddenness Demonstrates good body control and uses his long reach and timing to step out and contest shots along the perimeter Deft ball-handler and passer with the sudden moves to create his own shot Very efficient finding the open man on pick-and-roll plays and knows how to draw contact while driving to the basket Is very effective from the charity stripe (second among UK starters by making 75.4 percent of his free throws) Has a strong commitment on the defensive side, evident by his team-leading 66 steals Plays with the same efficiency as a scorer or defender, priding himself on having a complete game Is too explosive with the ball in his hands for most guards to contain In addition to his superb speed running the court, he has the balance and body control to stop on a dime, set his feet, elevate and generate a high release point to fire off his jumper Has the long wingspan and active hands to take defenders off the dribble and can become a very proficient steals machine on defense at the next level Has very good balance to make the stutter-step moves that leave the defender grasping at air while Wall slashes to the rim Very smart and alert when attacking defenses -- rare to see him drive into the lane without knowing his purpose Plays with very good aggression on offense, showing great confidence in his pull-up jumper Knows how to dip his shoulder and power his way past defenders into the lane Has excellent stamina and court presence, playing with the same intensity, whether handling the ball or playing without it in his hands Generates excellent elevation and hang time attacking the basket Mature beyond his years, as he has the ability to control the game, knowing when to push the ball hard on the fast break or pull up to change the tempo to a half-court game Not the type that will force the action, as he will flip the ball back to an open teammate rather than drive into the lane when he can't find a seam to the basket Even when caught out of position on help defense, he has incredible lateral agility to quickly recover Has excellent outside shooting range, but there is more to his game than shooting from the perimeter Outstanding finisher at the basket when he elevates to dunk or toss in a soft floater His suddenness coming off dribble penetration allows him to deliver with his array of open floor shots (jumper, left-hand floater, fade-away) Has a good feel for creating clean shots for himself in the half-court game Equally adept shooting and handling the ball with either hand, using his floater often, as he seems to draw a lot of contact when utilizing that shot going to the rim Knows how to keep the opposition off balance when he's handling the ball .
Negatives: Wall has a nice array of moves attacking the basket, but still needs to work on his range (made just 37-of-114 three-point tries). He doesn't do a great job of setting his feet Knows how to use his lateral quickness to slash by a defender but needs a hesitation move Seems to be left-hand reliant and has to become more creative when working with his off-hand Has a good feel for getting to the rim, but struggles when he has to shoot off the dribble Gets a little overconfident with his passing skills and must make better decisions when trying to feed a teammate Plays with good hand movement on the defensive side, but will back off when challenged by a physical shooter (will take a side rather than face up).
Compares To: DERRICK ROSE, Chicago -- Like Calipari-type guards in the past (Rose, Tyreke Evans), Wall is an unselfish ball-handler but needs make better decisions and cut down on turnovers. He has freakish athleticism and can drive to the rim to create his own shot. He needs to improve his range when firing from the perimeter. He is still a work in progress playing in the half-court game, but shows good finishing skills around the basket. Wall's upside and athleticism are too good for a team like Washington to ignore.
Consensus All-American and unanimous All-Southeastern Conference first-team choice
Named National Player of the Year by Yahoo and National Freshman of the Year by The Sporting News, Fox Sports and CBS Sports The John R. Wooden Award finalist (nation's best player), added United State Basketball Writers Association District IV Player of the Year and District IV All-District honors Chosen the SEC's Player of the Year and Fresh-man of the Year by the league's coaches, Yahoo, Associated Press and CBS Sports Was named the SEC Tournament's Most Valuable Player Selected ESPN National Player of the Week (11/16 to 11/22) in the first week of his collegiate career and earned MVP honors at the 2009 Cancun Challenge Featured on the covers of January 11th, 2010 Sports Illustrated, Jan. 12, 2010 Sporting News and March 10th, 2010 Slam (with team) issues Started the team's last 37 games, leading the Wildcats while setting school season-records for freshmen for scoring (616 points) and assists (also set the overall UK record with 241) Made 46.1 percent of his field goal attempts (202-of-438) and hit on 32.5 percent of his three-point tries (37-of-114) Second among Kentucky starters with 75.4 percent of free throws made (175-232) Led the Wildcats with 66 steals and blocked 19 shots Turned the ball over 149 times and was charged with 72 personal fouls (one disqualification) Pulled down 159 rebounds (4.3 rebounds per game), including 30 offensive rebounds.
Wall's 616 points scored in 2009-10 broke the old UK freshman season-record of 464 points by Rex Chapman (1986-87) His 241 assists topped the old Wildcats freshman season-record of 126 by Dirk Minniefield (1979-80) and the school's overall annual mark of 232 by Roger Harden (1985-86) Made 175 free throws, topping the previous UK first-year player record of 131 by Dwight Anderson (1978-79) His 37 three-point field goals in 2009-10 rank fifth on the school single-season freshman record chart Registered 16 assists vs. Hartford in 2009, breaking the old school game-record of 15 by Travis Ford vs. Eastern Kentucky (12/08/93).
Attended Word of God (Raleigh, N.C.) Christian Academy Averaged 22.1 points, 5.5 assists, 5.2 rebounds, 2.0 steals per game his senior season Led the team to a runner-up finish in the North Carolina Class 1A state championship game as a senior and was named MVP of the Tournament of Champions at Missouri State University Participated in the 2009 USA Nike Hoop Summit and Jordan Brand All-America game and was a finalist for the Naismith National High School Player of the Year Rated the nation's top overall prospect, he also averaged 18 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds as a junior.
General Studies major Son of Frances Pulley Born 9/06/90 Resides in Raleigh, North Carolina.
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