When the new Rivals.com rankings came out this week, the big news was that there was a new player in the #1 spot, John Wall from Raleigh, North Carolina. That was exciting for Mr. Wall, but it was also exciting for UK fans, who find themselves going for the #1 recruit in America for the first time since Marvin Stone was in high school. Kentucky has been recruiting Wall since the day Gillispie walked on campus and at one time, likely was the leader for his services. But times have changed and now Kentucky finds themselves going up against a host of schools, ranging from Memphis to Oklahoma State and hometown NC State for his services. Kentucky is still in the game, but is no longer the definitive leader. But all of that still begs the question as to what type of player this 2009 point guard really is….
I saw John Wall play last summer and I must say, he is as good a point guard as you will see in high school. He can shoot from anywhere on the floor, has incredible ball-handling skills and makes passes that you simply would not believe. Usually when you are talking about recruits, especially those whose name has been known for some time, like Wall, you find scouts who will be nit-picky about their skills. Not so for John Wall. Everyone who sees him loves him and the only arguments are who loves him more. He is a definite candidate for a “one and done” career, but during that one, he can have a Derrick Rose-like impact.
Which brings us to John Wall and his list. At this point, the likely favorite is Memphis. I have been told that Wall has become infatuated with playing for Calipari in a situation similar to Rose, where he is given the ball and told to go to work. He likes the free-wheeling style of the Calipari offense and is impressed with the way that Calipari is getting people to the next level. There is also a push from his hometown school to stay home, but I am told that NC State will be left in until the end, but will not be the winner. Finally, Oklahoma State and Travis Ford have tried to sell Wall on coming and doing his year in Stillwater by being “the man” on the team and having the offense completely go through him.
Does Kentucky have a chance with that competition? Well yes and no. The Cats were a favorite for Wall at one time, but over time they have lost some interest. Wall has expressed displeasure at the recruitment of another PG in the same class (GJ Vilarino) and a point guard from the JUCO ranks in this class (Kevin Galloway). It will be tough for UK to compete with the style of play being seen by Memphis and their success with Derrick Rose makes Memphis THE TARGET in America for the best point guards. Louisville may now be out of the picture with their recent commitment, but in his last interview with Rivals.com, Wall seemed to suggest that the Cards had passed UK on his list. All in all, getting Wall may be a bit of long shot at this point….but I know the UK staff is still fighting for him and they should….he could be the best point guard talent (and that is including Rajon Rondo) to play at Kentucky in our lifetime.