The Journey of Artem Wallace

The Artem Wallace story is an amazing one, whether he ends up picking Kansas or not.

Should Artem Wallace follow the yellow brick road and select Kansas next Fall it would end a four year journey that started in St. Petersburg, Russia.

The 6-8, 235 pound forward who currently calls Toledo, Washington home originally hails from Russia.   Wallace has spent the last three years in Washington though, and during that three year stretch he's mastered the English language, found a new family, and has built himself into a four-star recruit at the power forward position.

When Wallace arrived in America three years ago, he came as an exchange student.   Six months into his stay in the U.S., a temporary trip became a permanent one.   Back home in Russia, Wallace's mother became ill and passed away.   He hadn't seen or heard from his father since a very young age, which left his grandmother and step-father as his only remaining family.

The best option for his future was to stay in the States, and fortunately, a legal adoption just half a year into his American journey made that dream a reality.

Fast forward two and a half years and other than his towering stature, its hard to pick Wallace out from the rest of his American classmates.   Sure, he has a slightly noticeable accent, but his knowledge of the English language and articulate delivery is better than most high school juniors.

On top of that, Artem just loves being one of the guys.   He now enjoys playing pickup games with his new American friends and when it's too rainy outside for a little game of "street ball", Wallace takes his skills indoors and competes in sports video games.   He also enjoys watching his favorite pro team, the Los Angeles Lakers.

"Most of my free time is spent in the gym though," admits Wallace.   "I love playing basketball and love working on my game."

Wallace has, indeed, put a lot of work into his game ever since coming to America.   He's developed a great deal of versatility and it shows in the different ways he's used from winter high school ball to the AAU summer circuit.

Wallace's Toledo High School team is coming of a 4th place finish in the state tournament.   The fourth place ranking is the best in school history and it came, thanks largely to their larger-than-most presence under the hoop.   Wallace explains:

"At 6-8, I'm six inches taller than our next biggest guy, so for my high school team I strictly play straight post.   I enjoy it and had a good season of about 25 points per game and 16 rebounds, but what I really love is the style I play in the summer time.

AAU basketball in the summer months offers more of an opportunity to show off Wallace's jump shot. "In AAU I play power forward and I'm able to step out and shoot.   I enjoy playing the wing more myself, and I love to take guys off the dribble.

"I have a pretty quick first step and I also have a pretty good spin move."

So, which college program will get this rising Russian star?   As of right now, it looks wide open. "I'm just starting to look at schools right now since my season is done.  I wanted to focus on my game during the season, but now I'll start to really look hard at it."

Wallace claims he doesn't have a list of top schools, but Arizona, Stanford, UCLA, Washington, Washington State, Gonzaga, Kansas and several others have all showed interest.  

For now, Wallace is keeping his options open, but will start taking visits soon and hopefully wrap up his decision before his senior season at Toledo High begins.

"I'll probably start taking my visits in May.  I want to have my decision made before the start of my senior season, maybe by late November."

So, what will be the most important factors in deciding on a college home away from his new home in Washington? "First, I would like to get some minutes my freshman year.   I'd love to get about 10-12 minutes a game. That would be important to me.  I also want to go to a good program that's known for making big men better.  I want it to be a school that lets big men take a big part in the game and really develops their skills.  

"Academically, I don't know what I'm going to do yet so it doesn't play a huge role in my decision as of now." Neither does location.

"Location really doesn't play a role in my decision.   West coast would be fine because I could come home for break, but location doesn't make that much of a difference."

When you've traveled as far and been through as much as Wallace has already, another jaunt across his new homeland doesn't seem like a big deal.  


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