Big-time recruit flattered by Wall comparisons

Point guard grew up close to ex-UK star

jtipton@herald-leader.comJuly 9, 2010 

CLEVELAND — Less than a month after John Wall made Kentucky basketball history by becoming the program's first No. 1 overall pick in an NBA Draft, UK has not one, not two, but perhaps three suitable replacements in mind for the future.

The first is Brandon Knight, a highly regarded incoming freshman this coming season. Marquis Teague, a top-five national prospect in the high school class of 2011, has committed to the Cats.

As if that weren't enough point guard security for Kentucky, a player billed as "the next John Wall" is playing in the King City Classic camp this week.

That player, Rodney Purvis, will be a high school sophomore next season. Like Wall, he calls Raleigh, N.C., home. Like Wall, he's a 6-foot-4 point guard. Like Wall, he's a driver who acknowledges that he must improve his jump shot. As Wall did, he attends a Christian school in Raleigh.

"It's humbling," he said of the "next John Wall" talk. "Because John Wall is — what? — the No. 1 draft pick in the country. So there's really no comparison to me. I don't even feed into it."

It's a conscious decision to deflect the "next John Wall" label.

"Honestly, just having my name in that category would be great," he said before adding a moment later, "If you really get into it, you'd probably try to do too much just to try to be John Wall. That's something I try not to do."

That approach alleviates the pressure that comes with such a label.

"No pressure at all," he said. "I really don't get into it. I go out and try to focus. That's all."

When asked what he hoped to get out of the King City Classic experience, Purvis did not extend his view beyond the Wolstein Center on the campus of Cleveland State.

"Just compete," he said. "Show that I deserve to be here."

Purvis knows Wall. On the day of the NBA Draft, he went to Wall's house, which he said was about a 10-minute drive away.

"He's overwhelmed," Purvis said of Wall's reaction to the draft. "He's just a lucky kid. Well, not lucky because he worked for everything he got. He's a local kid from Raleigh, N.C., who made it. His work ethic will get him over the top."

That pretty well sums up the advice Purvis said he got from Wall. "Work hard," he said Wall advised. "Take nothing for granted."

If that wasn't enough to keep Purvis striving to get better, surely one-on-one games with Wall did. Purvis guessed that he'd played 100 or more one-on-one games against Wall.

"I lost every single time," he said with a smile. "He's a fierce competitor. If you've got game-point, he's not going to let you score."

Although a college commitment is at least two years away, Purvis likes the idea of following Wall to Kentucky. He got a taste by attending a UK camp last summer.

"It's just a basketball state," he said. "I mean, there's nothing else. No distractions at all. Just basketball."

The schools on his recruiting list are many. He mentioned UK, Louisville, Virginia, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Xavier and the school he roots for, North Carolina. He said he's received scholarship offers from Virginia, Georgia Tech, North Carolina Central, Xavier, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.

No offer from Kentucky? "Not yet," he said.

For now, it's enough for Kentucky to show interest.

"It means a lot because that's one of the premier programs out there right now," said Purvis, who is well aware of the line of stellar point guards who've played for UK Coach John Calipari. To be mentioned in the same sentence as Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, John Wall "means a lot because everybody wants to be in the NBA," he said. "John Calipari is the type of coach who can get you there if you want to go there."

Like most prospects, including Wall, Purvis wants to be there. The sooner the better.

"If you want to be one and done, then Kentucky is the place to go," said a player whose high school graduation is three years in the future. "It's that simple."

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