Johnson says Cats have the Magic touch

ralessi@herald-leader.comFebruary 26, 2010 

FRANKFORT — Hall of Fame point guard Magic Johnson said he has been in awe of Kentucky's first season under Coach John Calipari and particularly the performance of its freshman point guard.

"I think John Wall, to me, is the best player and the best guard in the country," he said. "He's really an unbelievable leader."

Johnson watched Wall, Calipari and the Cats take on South Carolina on Thursday night in Rupp Arena as a guest of Gov. Steve Beshear. Johnson spoke to reporters in Frankfort about the need for investment in education and their support of a bill that would raise the high school dropout age in Kentucky from 16 to 18.

It's Wall's intangibles, rather than his flashy moves to the hoop, that impress him most, Johnson said.

"I love him in the last couple of minutes because he always makes the right play to win the game — defensively, offensively, getting his team into the right, proper offense," said Johnson, who led Michigan State to an NCAA title as a sophomore in 1979. "John Wall is incredible."

As for where Wall will end up in the NBA Draft, Johnson predicted little debate. "Oh yeah, number one for sure," he said.

Johnson, a five-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, also gushed about Calipari's "incredible job" at the helm.

"In his first year, to have his team ranked number two in the nation and only have one loss is truly amazing," Johnson said. "What a coach."

Johnson told reporters he was looking forward to seeing the rematch between UK and South Carolina, the only team to defeat the Cats this season. He was ready when a reporter asked for a prediction on the game.

"Based on my past basketball experience, when you've got a team that only has lost one game and that team (that beat them) is coming to town, and the state is in an uproar ... I better pick Kentucky," he said.

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