UK Men's Basketball

Commentary: Wall's indecision misunderstood

The saga of John Wall's college recruitment seems to be winding down, though it may look like there is no end in sight.

The 6-foot-4 Raleigh Word of God point guard still has eight schools on his list — including Kentucky — and he says there is no favorite, no leader.

But when talking with him, he seems to be getting very close to deciding where he will go to school next year.

There has never been a recruiting story like this one.

Great players make college decisions every year, but few players have the explosiveness and the charisma of Wall.

Wall is so talented that college fans easily project him as leading their team to national prominence, even a national championship.

Wall might have the ability to lead Kentucky, Kansas, Florida or Duke to a national title next year.

He possibly could lead Baylor or Miami to national prominence. He could keep Memphis in the national dialogue.

He would sell lots of tickets and enter the program as a hometown hero at N.C. State.

That projected impact on some of the best programs in the country has made him special. At least two North Carolina talk shows have done segments discussing which story is bigger — John Wall or the Carolina Hurricanes in the NHL playoffs.

Imagine comparing a professional for-profit organization that has radio shows, television coverage, a public relations department and millionaire players, with the 19-year-old guy down the street.

The attention baffles Wall.

"I'm just a kid," he says.

His recruiting process has been filled with twists and rumors, most of which he has no control over and some of which have been mean-spirited and cruel.

Here's a few rumors and Wall's response:

■ After Baylor created a coaching position for Dwon Clifton, Wall's club team coach, many assumed Wall was ticketed to Baylor.

"I'm wide open," Wall said at the time. "Dwon and I never had that type of agreement."

■ Wall contemplated playing in Europe rather than go to college.

"No way, absolutely not. Where did that come from?" he said.

■ Wall is a "one and done" player, someone who would play one year of college basketball and go to the NBA.

"I never said that," Wall countered.

■ One Web site had him down to North Carolina, Duke, Kentucky and Florida.

"I haven't given anybody a list of leaders," Wall said.

■ And North Carolina had not offered him and was not recruiting him as of last Thursday.

For 24 hours, it was a foregone conclusion that Wall was going to enter the draft this year. He was projected as a top-10 pick.

"I don't think I'm ready to play in the NBA right now, and I want the college experience," he said. "Going to college would be good for me."

■ Wall failed a grade and bounced around from school to school.

No, he never failed a grade. He did go to three high schools. He went to Garner High in Garner, N.C. His family moved into the Broughton district in Raleigh and he went to Broughton for less than a semester before transferring to Word of God.

■ Wall is delaying his decision because he enjoys the attention.

I don't think so.

I doubt he has ever made an unsolicited call to a reporter. He has never sought publicity to my knowledge. He is confident, but not conceited.

He is like many high school seniors and is struggling with his college decision. He has more options than most students and probably has a lot more at stake.

His decision-making process has been slowed by coaching changes, late recruiting offers and his mother's illness. She is recovering from an aneurysm.

John Wall has been misjudged by a lot of people who wish he would get on their timetable and make his decision.

He has been polite to me and, as far as I know, honest.

During our interviews, he consistently says, "Yes, sir," or "No, sir."

He has spoken several times about being a teenager who has to make a big decision, a decision that he wishes he felt more confident about.

Last fall, Word of God Coach Levi Beckwith said to understand Wall you need to know that he wants to make people happy. He doesn't want to disappoint.

Before Wall began taking official visits, Beckwith asked Wall to promise to not commit while on a recruiting trip. "John would commit every place he visits if he is not careful," Beckwith said at the time. "He wants to make that coach happy; he doesn't want to disappoint him."

Pretty soon, though, Wall will disappoint a lot of college basketball fans when their choice for him doesn't match his.

That's unavoidable, and that day is coming.