The John Wall Effect
And with Slam Online’s breaking post, the world revolving around college basketball has no choice but to react to the news John Wall is going to the University of Kentucky. And react it has. The news is all over Twitter, ESPN, CBS and Yahoo Sports, not to mention just about every blog with a Kentucky/college basketball connection. While there hasn’t been a definitive reply from the Wall camp concerning the news, this quote from Wall in Jerry Meyer’s article should dispel doubts:
“Being able to play against Eric (Bledsoe) is a big plus,” he said. “I told Brian and my mom that I’ve always had to fight for my position. That’s what I had to do when I first played for Brian. I’m used to fighting. It’s another challenge for me to come to Kentucky and fight for my position.”
So why is there all this hype about John Wall, even on the national media stage? That’s easy, first, everybody loves his game, and based on this brief description, how can you not?
6’1″ point guards aren’t supposed to put back offensive rebounds by lasering in from the three point line, catching the ball on the ascent and rising further to dunk with authority over the backs of 7 footers. 6’1″ point guards aren’t supposed to torpedo in from the wings to block turnaround jump shots near the basket, sending the ball flying to halfcourt. 6’1″ point guards aren’t usually ambidextrous, capable of crossing someone up or dunking with authority with either hand. That’s John Wall.
Or, there are video highlights aplenty:
Now that his credentials have been overly established, the fallout from his decision only makes sense, even on a national sense. Remember, when ESPN started showing high school basketball games featuring LeBron James, the landscape changed permanently. For better or worse, what these highly-ranked players do is bottom line/top story material. Here’s a sample of some of the reactions to the John Wall news, something the Kentucky fan in me can’t help but be tickled by:
Turns out, you never underestimate Calipari when it comes to recruiting. He is unstoppable. It’s frightening, really. After convincing Patrick Patterson to forgo the NBA — despite an outside chance of being a lottery pick — Calipari will bring in four five-star recruits to next year’s Kentucky team, including the best player in the country, a guy who plays a little bit like a smoother, ambidextrous Derrick Rose. Kentucky was already going to be good next year. This is terrifying. Not just for other teams; nay, for humanity at large. Calipari, through whatever means, is apparently capable of convincing young men that Memphis and Lexington are truly desirable places to spend a year before heading to the NBA. Let’s pray he sticks to basketball. That elevated form of persuasion is not to be trifled with.
Chris Littmann at the Sporting Blog, with perhaps the best headline ever: UK Adds John Wall; NCAA Cancels Season
So, get up and celebrate, folks. It was a long, strange ride, but the Cats finally got my
man crushthe type of point guard who can make them a preseason favorite for a title. Make no mistake, John Wall is that special of a player. Today is a HUGE day.
Dan Shanoff joined the party by making a strong prediction for Kentucky, primarily based on the Wall commitment:
Mark it down — Kentucky is going to win the 2010 college hoops national title… It is not even June, and college hoops has its dominant storyline: Kentucky is back. Kentucky is No. 1. Kentucky will win the national title.
Because John Wall will lead them.
No sugar-coating on that one. Of course, all this positive buzz, besides receiving an open-armed welcome from Kentucky fans, puts the pressure squarely on their new coach. If you recall, when Kentucky hired John Calipari, he said he’d need a minimum of four years to return Kentucky to prominence.
I’m guessing by “years,” he meant “weeks” — at least, roster-wise, anyway.
But with stud-packed rosters, not to mention a ravenous Kentucky fanbase, comes pressure to win. Before Wall, getting to the Sweet 16 seemed like a nice goal, especially after Billy Gillispie’s strange saga, but now, those relatively-standard-for-a-big-time-program expectations are out the window. Now the words “National Championship” are being thrown around, and not just by Kentucky fans either.
With great talent comes great expectations.
As for Calipari, he indicated he thrived in such situations and that he welcomed the challenge and the demand. Thanks to the John Wall commitment, he’s getting exactly what he asked for, only at an accelerated rate.