"My plan is to go to the University of Kentucky for the next two or three years," said Wall. Two or three years?
While that may sound alarms for some players, it probably cause more than a few Big Blue fans to get downright giddy when they heard the comments because the prevailing logic has been that Wall, the nation's top-ranked point guard, would play one year in college and then jump to the NBA.
Will that still happen? Probably. Wall even admitted that if Calipari told him he was ready to play in the NBA after next season, he would heed that advice. That's no surprise, either, since Wall has made it clear that Calipari's ability to get players ready for the NBA is one thing that made him want to play for the coach. Calipari sent current NBA Rookie of the Year Derrick Rose to the NBA after one season at Memphis and Tyreke Evans, Calipari's point guard at Memphis last year, is expected to be a high draft pick this June.
Wall could be that good, too. He was a finalist for the Naismith National High School Player of the Year. He was a high school all-American, consensus No. 1 point guard in the country and had every major school in the country at least making inquires about him.
Calipari spent two years recruiting Wall. He was close to getting a commitment from him at Memphis before Wall's mother became ill in the fall. He was close to getting a commitment again this spring before Calipari left Memphis for Kentucky. In the last month, Wall has methodically cut his recruiting list to where he had Duke, Miami and Kentucky left. He never misled coaches into thinking he would make a quick decision and made it clear he would not take recruiting visits until after his season ended.
Calipari and his staff felt they could sign Wall if they did not pressure him to make a decision -- and they didn't. Calipari let Wall take his time rather than foolishly impose a deadline for his decision on him as some felt he should do. "I've recruited John for nearly two years and I've gotten to know him to be not only a fine player but a fine person," Calipari said. "He's a terrific teammate who wants to win, yet driven to personally improve. I'm very excited for the opportunity to add him to our family."
Wall believes he has met NCAA eligibility requirements but may retake his college entrance test again in hopes of raising his score. Then there is the class 1 misdemeanor breaking and entering charge he faces when he was cited for entering a vacant house with two friends. There was no sign of forcible entry and no sign of vandalism at the house.
Wall is scheduled to appear in court on May 29 and recently told the Raleigh News & Observer that he was "in the wrong place at the wrong time, and I take responsibility for that. I will accept whatever punishment I am given because I was wrong. I'm sorry that it happened."
At worst he'll likely get community service and learn a valuable lesson about what being in the limelight is going to be like at Kentucky -- and then the NBA -- where someone watches his every move.
Wall may have briefly considered a move to the NBA this spring because he is a fifth-year senior, and could have been a lottery pick because he's already been projected as the No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft.
Yet Wall says he wanted to go to college to fulfill a promise to his father, who died several years ago. That's another reason he's determined not to let this latest off-court incident derail his future plans.
Those close to Wall say it would be grossly unfair to judge him away from basketball based on this incident.
"He's always been extremely polite and nice. He's never lied to me. He's never been in trouble until this recent incident," Tim Stevens of the Raleigh News & Observer said. "He's not conceited. He's very confident, but not cocky. He's a good kid and great player."
And that won't change whether Wall is at Kentucky more than one year, but it's also why he's likely going to be a one-and-done star for Calipari just like Rose and Evans were.