Wall wows the kids at Calipari camp

Ex-Cat excites faithful with hoops Wizardry

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistJuly 31, 2010 





John Wall arrived at Kentucky doing a crowd-pleasing dance.

He'd love to return and do something similar, but a tad more traditional.

"Hopefully," Wall said Friday, "I can be (in the NBA) for years to come and come back to the game and be one of those persons that throws up the Y at the end of the Kentucky thing."

Yes, the NBA's A-No. 1 draft pick is interested in being the Y.

He is still certainly the star, arriving back in town for an appearance before eager campers at the John Calipari ProCamp on Friday. DeMarcus Cousins took his turn horsing around with the little dribblers Thursday. Eric Bledsoe and Patrick Patterson are scheduled to entertain the campers Saturday.

"I wish I had had an opportunity to meet guys in the NBA and go to their camps," said Wall.

Egged on by cheers of "Dunk it! Dunk it!" the 6-foot-3 guard jammed for the campers, signed a poster as the grand prize for a game of "Go For It," and participated in a question-and-answer session with today's inquisitive youth.

Question: "When did you know you were going to play basketball?

Wall: "Before I was born. No, probably when I was 2."

Question: "When did you make your first shot?"

Wall: "You mean in a trash can or a real goal? ... My first shot was on a Fisher Price goal."

He's come a long way since, rising to the top of the recruiting ranks as a high school player in North Carolina, arriving at UK with considerable fanfare, and that now signature and oft-imitated John Wall Dance at Big Blue Madness.

Then Wall pulled the best trick of all, turning out to be all that was advertised. If not a little more. For the capper, there he was in New York in June, having his name called as the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft by the Washington Wizards.

Like you really needed to read the previous two paragraphs to know the John Wall story.

"Sometimes sitting in my hotel room when I'm traveling," Wall told the media during a pre-orchestrated break Friday, "I'll be shocked and amazed by all of it that's happened."

Washington looks forward to him performing some shocking and amazing things on the floor for the Wizards. Interest there is running high for a team that won all of 26 games a year ago.

"They've accepted me pretty well," Wall said. "They had a highlight tape of all the big-time hockey players and Donovan McNabb, all those guys doing my dance and showing me I was welcome there. That meant a lot."

(Side note: Wall said he had not seen a Nationals baseball game yet. Said he was anxious to see Stephen Strasburg pitch. "And he's injured, so ain't no point in really going.")

Ah, but the nation's capital is not the nation's college basketball capital.

"It's nowhere near the same," Wall said of his reception. "Kentucky is always gonna be on top. There's nothing I've seen that can beat it."

Even when you return and you're no longer playing for the Cats?

When you come back, said Wall, "they still treat you like you're a current player."

At one point during the Q&A, a camper requested the creative artist to do his "John Wall Dance."

UK's director of basketball operations Martin Newton jumped in and said that they would save that, the best, for last.

Next season, though, when they're doing that "Kentucky thing," John Wall would love to come back for an encore.

Reach John Clay at (859) 231-3226 or 1-800-950-6397, ext. 3226, or jclay@herald-leader.com. Read his blog at Kentucky.com.

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