John Wall, the first national player of the year in Kentucky basketball history and overall No. 1 pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, spoke recently about his preparations for the upcoming season and his induction into the UK Athletics Hall of Fame this weekend.
“It’s going to be great. It’s going to be very fun, very exciting having my close friends and my family there, Wall said on the “Off the Bench” Washington Wizards podcast published on NBA.com Wednesday. “I’m going to do my best not to cry. I know my mom’s going to cry, so I’m going to try not to look at her while I’m talking.”
Wall will be inducted along with Randall Cobb, Collin Cowgill, Ralph Hacker, Sherry Hoover Bordner and Sarah Rumely during Hall of Fame Weekend, in conjunction with Kentucky’s football game against Florida on Saturday.
“To be a skinny kid from North Carolina, 18 years old, to go an eight hours away drive to the first day to be on campus and be like ‘I don’t want to be here. I need to leave. I want to be close to family and friends,’ to figuring it all out and having a great run there with some great teammates, great coaching staff, the best fan base I’ve ever seen,” Wall added. “They’re unbelievable for college basketball — 24,000 every night. You get chills and goose bumps every time you step on the floor. I played some amazing games there. We didn’t accomplish what we wanted as the ultimate goal, but just being there and having Coach Cal there has been like a father figure, a guy that pushed me every day.”
An accompanying story by Zach Rosen, one of the hosts of the podcast, focused on Wall’s preparations for the season as the four-time all-star comes off signing a four-year $170 million contract extension for the Wizards.
“I’m stronger and I’m very excited to get this season started,” he said. “(I’ve) got a lot of motivation.”