HOUSTON — Houston Rockets astray point guard John Wall missed the entire 2021-22 campaign due to a failed trade request.
Wall spent most of the season away in Miami working out. But when Wall was present in Houston, he took the time to share his knowledge about the game with Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr.
Wall's most significant attribute to the game over the previous eight months was his willingness to mentor the next generation of guards. Despite how the last three years have been for Wall, the former No. 1 pick of the 2010 NBA Draft has tons of tips and wisdom to share that would help any young player reach their pro potential.
NBA draft prospect TyTy Washington Jr. is one of several players Wall showcased a mentorship role. During his lone season at the University of Kentucky, Washington developed a close-knit relationship with Houston's point guard.
The two stayed in communication throughout the 2022 college basketball season. Wall's words of advice helped Washington receive SEC All-Freshman Team and Second-Team All-SEC honors while establishing himself as one of the nation's best point guards.
"He told me that coach [John] Calipari is going to be on me from day one," Washington said during his pre-draft workout with the Washington Wizards. "He told me that I was going into the season with a lot of high expectations from Cal, someone who does not lower the bar for anyone.
"He told me that there were going to be days coach Cal will chew me out, but you have to fight through it. Wall told me if I could get through Cal, I could get through anywhere in life."
From Wall's high school mixtapes to his signature dance, Washington became a fan of his future mentor at a young age.
Washington's on-court attributes as a 6-foot-3 point guard who can finish around the rim and make his teammates better are similar to the traits that made Wall one of the league's most prominent players for most of the 2010s.
Washington's best representative of Wall's guidance took place amid Kentucky's 92-77 victory over Georgia on Jan. 8. Washington set a school record for most assists in a single game with 17, breaking the program previous historical feat of 16 set by Wall in 2009.
"I wasn't even aware that I was about to get his record — I was just out there playing basketball," Washington said. "I just heard someone during a timeout say that I needed two more assists to break Wall's record. When I went back on the court with 15 [assists], I stopped shooting to make sure I received the final two needed. When I got it, I was very satisfied."
Washington is entering the 2022 NBA Draft as a top-10 point guard following a respectable season at Kentucky. He averaged 12.5 points on 45.1 percent shooting from the field, 3.9 assists and 1.3 steals across 31 games.
Washington may not be on Houston's draft board on June 23, but there is a slim chance the soon-to-be rookie could share a locker room with Wall. Washington held a pre-draft workout with the New York Knicks, a team that can re-emerge as a suitor for Wall's services.
Injuries have robbed Wall of the player he was at the time he signed his max deal in 2017 with the Wizards. But he can still play a vital role on a contending team if given the opportunity.
In 2021 Wall proved he still had something left in the tank by appearing in 40 games to average 20.6 points, 6.9 assists and 3.2 rebounds for the 17-55 Rockets.
You can follow Matt Galatzan on Twitter @MattGalatzan
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