To cap off a homecoming weekend for many former UK players, tonight’s preseason NBA game between the Washington Wizards and the Sacramento Kings included four former Wildcats. None more important to John Calipari’s success at UK than John Wall. The player who made Kentucky Basketball exciting again.
Wall has been a huge advocator for this Kentucky program since he left for the NBA and the crowd’s reaction every time he scored tonight showed how much they appreciate him.
The Raleigh, North Carolina native finished with 11 points, 4 assists, and 4 steals in only 22 minutes of action tonight. Here are a few quotes from wall’s postgame interviews:
On what it is like to be back playing in front of the Big Blue Nation at Rupp Arena:
It was great. It was fun. It was an exciting game and my teammates had a great time.
On being back around the Kentucky program that was home to him for his one and only season playing college ball:
It brings back a lot of memories. It is an opportunity to see what you miss, how some things have changed. They’ve added new stuff to the locker room and to the court. It’s always great to be back.
When asked about why the Wizards were in the away locker room and the Kings got to use the home locker room:
They said because the Kings had booked this on the schedule, that’s why they got the home court advantage. That’s why I said next time we got to book it because I need to show them the experience over there. They don’t really get to see the real love over here. It’s alright, though.
One question was asked about what Coach Cal meant to Wall at the time in his life when he didn’t have much of a male role model in his life:
In high school, it was really just my mom. I had coaches and mentors that tried to help me, but at the same time, I was just free. I was doing whatever I wanted to do, whenever I wanted to. Here, he put that stomping ground down, like this is how it is going to be.
Following up on that, he said the reason he committed to UK, was the way Coach Cal talked about things other than basketball during his recruiting pitch:
That was the perfect thing about when he came on his visit, he never preached about basketball. He just talked about life and that’s the reason why I chose here.
When asked about if he had any advice for a rookie like Skal Labissiere who went to the same school as him, but is playing for another team:
Just be one of the first guys there, be one of the last guys there. Listen to whatever the coaches and vets are telling you. Put in a lot of hard work and try to study the game as much as possible. He has a lot of great players in his position that can help him and talk to him. I think they did a great job of adding some veteran guys that have been through this, played different positions and got traded, and played big minutes on certain teams.
Take a look at Wall’s complete interview after the game: