While it's already assumed that freshman point guard John Wall is so talented that he will only be at Kentucky for one season before going to the NBA, Kentucky coach John Calipari says there are still certain characteristics he wants in even a player that great before he has him on his team.
"If you are recruiting guys you know are going to have choices after their first or second year whether to stay or go to the NBA, you want to make sure they are program builders and not takers. They are not kids who come in and worry about themselves and not care what happens. They are just going to do their thing and leave. This kid (Wall) is a program builder," Calipari said.
"He will defer to his teammates. He is too much of a pleaser. He wants everybody to feel good around him versus really having to say some hard things at times. He would rather me do that. You will not see him get on a teammate. You just won't. He will look at me like, ‘Are you going to say something?' He's just not that way. He has great pride in his ability. He wants to make a statement academically."
Wall insisted UK, not the NBA, would be his priority when he signed with the Wildcats after also considering Memphis, Miami, North Carolina State, Baylor, Duke and Kansas. He says that commitment has not changed and he had the highest grade-point average of any freshman basketball player during summer school to emphasize that point.
"I want to be a true student-athlete, hit my books and get better on the basketball court. I want to have a great season. If my team does well and I do well like I am supposed to, I don't have to worry about the NBA. Coach Cal and the NBA scouts will tell me when to go. If not, then I will come back to Kentucky," Wall said.
" I did want to prove to people that I am not just a basketball player. I'm not just the No. 1 player (in the recruiting class) when I step on the basketball court. I am working on trying to hit the books very hard. I did great this summer getting a 4.0 (grade-point average) and hopefully I will do that this school year. I am not just trying to slack off. I want to hit the books and be a great student-athlete, not just a good basketball player."
Wall knows all about the expectations for him and the University of Kentucky this season. Yet the talented freshman point guard from North Carolina insisted he can't let that overwhelm him or change the way he prepares for his first — and maybe only — collegiate — season.