Top recruit Wall chooses Kentucky
"John, what do you want to do?"
Much of the college basketball nation had been waiting months for the answer, as the John Wall Sweepstakes turned into the John Wall Saga, with as many as eight schools still in the hunt for his services in April. The 6-foot-4 product out of Raleigh, N.C.'s Word of God Christian Academy had nearly committed to Memphis, but re-opened the process when coach
On Monday, Wall finally had an answer for Clifton: "I want to go to Kentucky."
Calipari's sales pitch won out. Wall cited his relationship with the coach "as the thing that pushed [Kentucky] over." Calipari had, Clifton said, managed to assuage any concerns about a glut at the point-guard position in Lexington. "They told John that even though he'd have to fight for the position, he was their guy," Clifton said. "They said they were recruiting him to start, and to run the team. And John was convinced."
A Kentucky source confirmed to SI.com that they'd been contacted on Monday night with the news. Clifton said he believed Calipari was at Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals in Pittsburgh when he received a text message about Wall's decision. The Kentucky coach they first spoke with was assistant
It was an understandable time to be thankful. Calipari already had Rivals.com's No. 1 recruiting class for 2009-10
The expectation is that Wall will be handed the reins to Calipari's Dribble Drive offense in much the same way that true freshmen
Wall, who has Rose-like athleticism, is widely considered to be the top prospect in a loaded 2010 draft pool. Because he turns 19 this fall and is in his fifth year of high school, rumors swirled in April that Wall might explore a jump straight to the NBA. But, as Wall told SI.com then, "I already promised my mom and my dad, before he died [passing away from cancer when Wall was 9], that I was going to college, so I'm not even thinking about the NBA this year."
Multiple NBA sources indicated that Wall would have been a highly coveted pick even without a year of college experience. "He would have gone in the top three this year, guaranteed," one NBA executive told SI.com.
Now Wall will be at the helm of a team with four other potential NBA players in Cousins, Orton, Bledsoe and junior power forward
If the Wildcats can get a strong grasp on the Dribble Drive offense, and find a way for a young team to gel by March -- which is no easy task -- they have enough talent present to compete for a national title. In the meantime, Wall is said to be relieved to end his recruitment, and his final task on Tuesday was to inform the staffs of his three other unofficial finalists -- Miami, Duke and Florida -- about his decision. The 'Canes had hoped to pull off the year's biggest recruiting surprise, and put their program on the map, by landing Wall; the Blue Devils had told him he could take over starting point-guard duties, and would be permitted to go on a one-and-done path; and the Gators wanted him as its replacement for
There had been speculation that Wall would drag the process out into June, but his mother,