Calipari proceeded to sign DeMarcus Cousins, Darnell Dodson, Eric Bledsoe and keep the Wildcats top two players that the previous staff had signed: Daniel Orton and Jon Hood. Most people felt this was as good of a recruiting haul as the Wildcats could have expected, and frankly better than any class UK had in two decades.
What happened next exceeded most people's expectations. Calipari signed John Wall.
Wall was widely considered the best prospect in the nation by most analysts and was most definitely an instant impact prospect. The 6-foot-4 point guard has great burst to the rim, dynamic speed from baseline to baseline, and the ability to get off his shot in traffic against bigger players. Most of all, Wall knows how to make game winning plays.
After sitting out one regular season game, Wall finally got a chance to play against Miami University. The Wildcats struggled throughout the game, but in his initial real game, Wall made a 12 foot jumper falling away to give the the Wildcats a 72-70 victory over the feisty Redhawks.
Making a game winner in your first game is what legends are typically made of, but it's only gotten bigger for Wall since that time. Through nine games, Wall has averaged 18 points per game along with seven assists. He's also averaging close to three steals per game.
Wall has had great performances against national powers such as Connecticut in Madison Square Garden and also against defending National Champion North Carolina in Rupp. He had been so good during those games that his 11 point, eight assist effort against Indiana in Bloomington Saturday was almost a letdown. Still, he was named SEC Freshman of the Week again.
Wall, although widely considered the probably top pick in June's NBA draft, doesn't let the glamor get to him.
"It's pretty good. As long as my teammates don't mind, I'm not trying to get big headed. I try to stay hungry and humble," said Wall.
That's easy to say, but his teammates feel the same way about him.
"John Wall is legit," said DeMarcus Cousins. "He's the real deal. There is no guard out there better. John just started his legacy," he finished.
"We all know who to get the ball to," said Patrick Patterson after the Wildcat victory over UConn. "He's phenomenal. He's one of the best basketball players out there."
When Kentucky took on North Carolina, it looked as if Wall and the Wildcats would run away with the win, but early in the second half, Wall was suffering from severe cramping. The cramps forced Wall to the locker room for treatment and slowed the Wildcat attack. His absence allowed North Carolina back into the game. Wall, frustrated with his injury, just wanted to be on the court trying to help his team win.
"I was having a fit back there. Can somebody please tell me the score," Wall said after that game. "Y'all just need to hurry up and get me back out there. I was just ready to get back out here with my team," he said.
Kentucky is 10-0 for the first time in 17 years when they started the season 11-0. The difference is that this group is led by a player many consider as not only the best freshman in the country this year, but possibly the best freshman in Kentucky basketball history.
The only comparable freshman seasons come from Rex Chapman and Patrick Patterson. Rex averaged 16 points and 3.5 assists per game. Patterson averaged 16.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. Another current freshman may be able to work his way into this discussion as well.
DeMarcus Cousins is averaging 14.2 points and 8.3 rebounds per game as well. However while Cousins is having an outstanding first year at Kentucky, but his consistency is still a question through the first third of the season.
At this point, I would call Wall Kentucky's best ever freshman, the Greatest of All-Time (G.O.A.T.).
What do you think?
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