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Thread: Wall grateful for opportunity at UK

  1. #1
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    Kentucky Wall grateful for opportunity at UK

    He’s likely on the verge of being the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NBA draft, a move that will change John Wall’s life, and that of his family, forever.
    However, it was less than a year ago that Kentucky coach John Calipari also made a decision that helped solidify Wall’s future, and it’s something the talented Kentucky point guard will never forget.
    “That meant a lot. He was probably the only person that told me not to worry about it and that it would be all right,” said Wall as he looked back on that April 27, 2009, incident.
    Wall, then 18, was issued a citation by Raleigh, N.C., police charging him with misdemeanor breaking and entering at a Raleigh residence. Wall was not arrested or detained by police, but when you are the nation’s No. 1 high school recruit, that was a damaging moment.
    “I was with the wrong person at the wrong time, with somebody I shouldn’t have taken to that place. Coach Cal stuck with me and came down to my press conference and told me he still wanted to coach me, and I was the same guy he wanted no matter what goes on. He was the first one to call me when it happened and told me he was with me,” Wall said.
    “I felt bad for myself. I shouldn’t have been in the situation I was in. I got myself in a bad spot and let myself, my fans and my family down. I thought about it, apologized and moved on and hoped nobody would hold it against me as I moved past it. Coach Cal was great. He didn’t make a big deal of it. He let me know you have to learn from your mistakes, and I did.”
    Did he ever.
    Resilient
    Wall has had a fabulous season for the Wildcats, who finished the year 35-3 after losing to West Virginia in the NCAA East Region final. Wall averaged 16.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game and also had a team-high 66 steals.
    He set UK freshman records for assists and free throws made (175) in a season as well as a single-game assists mark. He’s already won national freshman and player of the year awards — and could still add more.
    “I am resilient. I had to battle through knocks when I was young. I hope other guys pay attention and see what they can do, too, by what I have done,” Wall said. “It seems like this year went by so fast and was so long ago. I thank God for this. He gave me all the opportunities. Certain things happen for a reason. I have to stay humble and hungry. That’s why I don’t get big-headed over all of this. It wasn’t that long ago that I still had a big mistake to overcome and learn from.”
    What helped him was the way the Kentucky fans embraced him from day one.
    “When I saw the fans when I first got here, I said ‘Whoa — this is kind of different than back home.’ Those fans are crazy, but I ain’t never seen no fans like Kentucky fans. Carolina and Duke got some good fans, and N.C. State, but I’ve never seen fans who would sit outside the Wildcat Lodge and sit there for four hours just so you could come outside and sign autographs. It’s crazy,” Wall said.
    “I love playing for this program. Kentucky is way bigger than me and this basketball team. They’ve had history in the past, and we’re just trying to add on to the history and bring the program back to where it was before. They’ve had a lot of great players, a lot of great coaches and the fans have supported them no matter what. I’m proud to be a Kentucky player. It’s special.”
    Dwon Clifton, Wall’s former AAU coach, is now the director of basketball operations at Baylor. He remains in almost daily touch with Wall, and he, too, has been overwhelmed with the way UK fans took to Wall almost from the time he arrived on campus.
    “That has kind of surprised me to look on TV and see Ashley Judd doing a dance they say he created. It is a little mind-blowing at times,” Clifton said. “I find myself getting ready for games, and I hear his name, and I just smile because it makes me proud to just be a part of it.”
    Exceptional
    Cypheus Bunton, a former player and assistant coach at Western Kentucky, now coaches at South Carolina. Bunton said watching Wall was even been fun for him.
    “He is an exceptional player. Guys don’t come through like him very often. He is just unbelievable. He has God-given talent most guys don’t have. Experience does mean a lot, but Wall is the exception because he’s so good,” Bunton said. “Very few players could do what he has done.
    “I like the way he controls the game, and he has unbelievable speed. He can get up and down the court in two dribbles if he has to. It’s just unexplainable how it is. He is blessed with that speed, and coach Cal gets the best out of him.”
    However, Bunton was even more impressed with Wall’s demeanor. He had heard stories about Wall’s occasional temper tantrums when he was younger and knew of the problem he had before he came to Kentucky.
    “But he has been great. You can tell he is very humble kid and he plays the way coach Cal wants him to play. I wish we had him on our team. Who wouldn’t want him? He’s a great player and good kid,” Bunton said.
    Wall seemed to have gone out of his way to make sure that’s the perception he portrayed. He liked hanging out with teammates. He liked crediting them for the team’s success.
    And he has taken his academic work seriously, something many speculated he would not do since he figures to be in the NBA next year. However, since his mom and dad did not go to college, he wanted to be the first in his family to do so.
    “This semester has gone well. My grades are where they need to be. It’s tough to do school work on the road, but you get a few days to go back and get it done. But it helps when you can do it on the road, too, so I usually try to take stuff with me,” said Wall, who is taking 12 hours this semester and says history is his favorite class.
    “It is pretty hard at times to keep up academically. You have to focus on being a team leader and winning, but you have to do work in the classroom, too. Everybody said I wasn’t going to take school serious and that I didn’t have to go to class. I am trying to be a leader for this team, so I have to make sure I go to class and do the right things so other players and people can’t say basketball stopped me from being a true student-athlete.
    “I know my sister is coming along right behind me. She is smart, and she is going to get her degree pretty quickly, probably quicker than me. But that’s pretty cool, too.”
    That type of pressure could have consumed some players but not Wall.
    “I do put pressure on myself, but why not put pressure on your shoulders if you know your teammates are going to be there to help you out. They are always there, and so are my coaches,” he said.
    And what did he do to relax?
    “I just sit in my room and relax, play video games and watch movies. That’s it. I might go to a movie, but being around teammates in the lodge is all I need. We don’t have to go out and do much for me to be happy. I like a simple life,” he said.
    Helping Mom
    However, soon he will be able to enjoy about anything he wants. He’ll be an instant millionaire when he declares for the draft and becomes the top pick as almost every mock draft indicates he will be.
    But it is his mother who Wall wants to benefit first, whenever his NBA money comes, to pay her back for taking care of him and his family after his father died of cancer in jail when Wall was only 9 years old.
    “Whenever that time comes, it will mean a lot to me to be able to help my mother and do good things for her. I want to get her a house,” said Wall, who indicated again after the West Virginia loss that his future plans were uncertain.
    “Whenever I get the opportunity to play in the NBA, it will mean a lot because she put in so much work to feed me, my family and my sisters. It will mean a lot to all of us.
    “Being able to take care of her makes it even more important to me to be successful. That’s the main thing I worry about. I am going to be happy playing a sport I love on the biggest level, but the main thing is being able to do it for my mom so she won’t have to work anymore, and say thanks for all she did for me. When my dad passed, she worked three or four jobs, and I really didn’t see her much besides her driving me to school. Now I’ll have my chance to take care of her.

    http://www.amnews.com/stories/2010/03/30/uks.960871.sto

  2. #2
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    Re: Wall grateful for opportunity at UK

    I think we UK fans are more grateful for him coming here, than he is.

  3. #3
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    Re: Wall grateful for opportunity at UK

    ooooo, he said "whenever the time comes when I can help her."........talking about his mom.

    That sounds like he's staying to me!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. #4
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    Re: Wall grateful for opportunity at UK

    Wall is a great kid, UK was very lucky to have him this year....

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