This seemed like it would be a lazy Monday on the news front and those of us with other professions could focus on getting out of the post-Derby haze. But then came a little tidbit of news out of Raleigh. All-everything PG John Wall was cited for breaking and entering in his hometown. Immediately the over-reaction started. Some Kentucky fans said that the Cats should stop recruiting him, Duke fans said they were done with this troublemaker and UNC fans began praising Roy Williams for having not yet offered him a scholarship. With no details, the judgment was made by many and it was assumed that John Wall was trouble waiting to happen.
But then as it so often does, the truth countered the original assumptions. It was shown that the house in question was actually an empty house that had been foreclosed and would soon be up for sale. Reports showed that nothing was taken from the home and that there was no forced entry. Three kids, one of whom was Wall, had walked in the back door of an empty house and had been caught by an officer. No arrests were made and a citation was not given until after the fact. Wall was charged with a misdemeanor and depending on how the Raleigh prosecutors choose to handle the media publicity, the entire incident could end up dismissed.
So what do we make of all this? Well one thing is clear, the Wall incident will have no impact on Kentucky’s recruitment of him. Coach Calipari was very clear in his introductory press conference that he believed in second chances and there is nothing in his past that would suggest that he will give up the Wall pursuit. If Coach Cal was fine going after Tyreke Evans, John Wall will not be a problem. Second, there is nothing about this incident that suggests Wall is a bad kid. I have spoken with John on a couple of different occasions and he has been nothing but respectful and has shown none of the signs of a problem child. Bomani Jones has spoken repeatedly of Wall’s good family and his belief that he is a quality kid adjusting to his new spotlight. While following his recruitment may have been frustrating to some, there is a difference between a kid who likes attention and one who is a troublemaker. Wall seems to be the former, but not the latter.
None of that is to say however that the incident is not a maturity wake-up call. John Wall has hit the big time and with that comes pressure. He is the most known recruit in America….period. And if he goes to either Kentucky or Duke, he will be the most hyped Freshman in America….period. The attention is great, but with that comes responsibility to not “act a fool.” When you were a teenager, you may have gone into abandoned houses to hang out with your friends or a girl and be mischevious. But when you are John Wall, you cant do it. The media attention on Wall is strong now, but what if he goes to Lexington. The traditional news media reports on what cars players drive and the secondary media (like blogs and message boards) report on EVERYTHING about the player, no matter how mundane. Wall needs to get used to that spotlight and little acts of immaturity simply cant happen.
Ultimately this charge wont end up being a big deal. “Breaking and Entering” sounds bad, but in this case means a kid went in an open door into an empty house. My guess is the same teams that recruited him before will recruit him now (unless there is local pressure from those in the Duke faculty and alumni, but as Bomani said…they looked past Sheldon Williams). And ultimately, in a couple of days this incident will be forgotten. While John Wall should take this as a lesson, please spare me those who will somehow say that this matter is symbolic about him or the broader issue of who Calipari recruits. This is a kid who made a dumb mistake. Yes he is a famous kid, but he is still a kid. Lets not act like you didnt do something this stupid when you were younger….its just when it was you, nobody cared.
Calipari may in the future recruit guys that we wonder about….but Wall is not one of those guys and this incident is no big deal.
We will have more all day and my guess is that the news as to where Eric Bledsoe will end up will leak during the day. Stay tuned…..