This Luke Winn article at SI.com has prompted approximately 20,000 new message board or blog comment posts. Most of them are written by Kentucky fans in the style of a private heart-to-heart with John Wall. Some try to convince young Master Wall to pick Kentucky. Others implore Wall to just make a decision and/or not be a prima donna. Thank heavens the young man has so many opinions to consider!
One of the few individuals John actually listens to is Brian Clifton, John’s former AAU coach. Winn’s article addressed Clifton and his alleged favoritism towards Duke:
It has been speculated that Duke is Clifton’s preferred destination for Wall, in part because of rumors that Clifton hopes to become Wall’s agent next season, and Duke would be the place where he’d be best insulated from outside suitors. Clifton denied this to SI.com last month — “I’ll be in John’s life in some capacity, but it won’t be as his agent,” he said — but Clifton does, definitely, like Duke.
He cited the fact that the Blue Devils had a clear opening at the point-guard spot as a benefit, and said that, of the teams Wall was considering, Duke had the best chance of competing for a national title next season, a fact that he felt should not be taken lightly.
Don’t get me wrong, Duke has got some talent. Ryan Kelly is one of those big shooter types that Coach K loves to death <!– Insert skin color joke here –>. Jon Scheyer and Kyle Singler will be able to put up points.
But does Duke has the “best chance” out of all the schools John Wall is considering? John will have to try to replace Gerald Henderson, who is reportedly signing with an agent. Out of 329 FG attempts by Gerald this year, 63 (19%) of them were 3-point attempts. To truly replace Gerald — and to make the final 4, Duke has to replace Gerald — Duke will need John to shoot well from behind the arc. Long jumpers are not John’s strength (yet). So Coach K will need to get more 3-point output from his other positions, like, um, Brian Zoubek? Lance Thomas?
(“Who?” you hypothetically ask. “Exactly,” I hypothetically reply.)
Kentucky fans have recently been accused of counting Final 4 chickens before they hatch. To be fair, there is a lot that could go wrong between then and now: Injuries, academic issues, difficulty operating the dribble-drive effectively, etc. However comparing the currently-assembled talent, Kentucky is as equally good as Duke. (It’s equal parts nice and disgusting to say.) Throw in John Wall at Kentucky and the return of Jodie Meeks, and I believe most folks will give the edge in talent to Kentucky.
Of course, I think that because I’m a Kentucky fan. Brian thinks Duke is better because he prefers Duke (as he has admitted previously). For his best interest, I think John Wall needs to listen to some unbiased good advice: