UK Men's Basketball

John Wall: SEC Freshman of every Week?

For the third straight week, the Southeastern Conference named Kentucky guard John Wall its Freshman of the Week.

Wall averaged 14.0 points, 10.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds in leading the Wildcats to wins over UNC-Asheville and 10th-ranked North Carolina last week.

He is the third player in league history to take the honor three weeks in a row. Alabama's James Robinson did it twice in 1990-91, and Chris Jackson won three straight in 1987-88.

Overall, Robinson won the Rookie of the Year award six times and Jackson five. Jamont Gordon of Mississippi State and Anthony Randolph of Louisiana State each won the award four times.

Besides Wall, other players who have won the award as many as three times in a season include UK's Patrick Patterson in 2007-08.

Although the season is not quite a month old, Wall has caused more than one opposing coach to speak in grand and sweeping terms.

Wall's 21 points and 11 assists against Rider caused Broncs Coach Tommy Dempsey to lament the consequences of his team's 31 percent shooting.

"The fact we didn't shoot well allowed John to get out in transition quite a bit," Dempsey said before adding, "where he's as good as I've ever seen."

Wall's clutch free-throw shooting (8-for-8) helped Kentucky beat Stanford in overtime for the Cancun Challenge championship.

"One of the fastest guards I've seen play on any level," said Stanford Coach Johnny Dawkins, a quicksilver ball-handler himself for Duke in the 1980s.

Dawkins also noted Wall's composure. After the 45-minute thriller in Cancun, Dawkins said of Wall, "To his credit, he showed a lot of poise for his age."

In his latest award-winning week, Wall recorded a double-double with 12 points and 14 assists to go with six steals against UNC Asheville. The 14 assists were a UK freshman record and one shy of the school record set by Travis Ford in 1993-94.

Against North Carolina on Saturday, Wall had 16 points and seven assists despite missing seven minutes of the second half with cramps.

Of course, Wall came to Kentucky celebrated as one of the best prospects in several years. Last week North Carolina Coach Roy Williams called Wall the best point guard prospect since Jason Kidd.

Wall, who is widely projected as the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, has improvement to make. After turning over the ball a season-high seven times against North Carolina, he's averaging 4.4 turnovers a game.

UK Coach John Calipari has scoffed at the notion of Wall as a defensive stopper, even though the freshman checks opposing scorers in clutch situations.

"He leaves his man," the demanding UK coach said. "He'll lose his man. He'll hit screens."

In other words, Wall is not immune from the struggles of the typical freshman. But, as the latest SEC award suggests, he's not just another freshman.

Fellow freshman DeMarcus Cousins said it well after Wall hit the game-winning shot against Miami (Ohio).

"With the hype he has, it's all true," Cousins said. "There's no extra behind that. John Wall is legit. He's the real deal. There's no guard out there better than him.

"John just started his legacy."

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