AKRON, Ohio — July camps and summer recruiting periods revolve around choices: which prospect to woo, what college to pick.
But highly regarded point guard prospect John Wall put an interesting variation on the subject of choice. He had to choose between church and state, so to speak.
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As a hero worshiper of LeBron James, Wall had the chance to play in the Skills Academy sponsored by the celebrated Cleveland Cavalier.
Yet, Uncle Sam invited Wall to participate in the tryouts for the 18-and-under U.S. national team that will play in Argentina later this month.
What to do?
“Kind of tough,” Wall said of the overlapping opportunities. “Playing for your country versus meeting LeBron James.”
Wall spoke to reporters after one of his games in the LeBron James Skills Academy. So his choice was obvious. He said meeting James was a “lifetime dream come true.”
Wall's commitment will be viewed as a dream come true for one college basketball program. He's generally considered the nation's best point guard in the high school class of 2009.
That he's made not one, not two, but three unofficial visits to Kentucky leads to speculation that UK is in prime position to sign Wall.
“It's not true,” Wall said. “Right now, no team has the lead. They're all the same. Everybody's still wide open. I have the same interest for everybody.”
Among the schools expressing an interest in Wall are Kentucky, Memphis, Kansas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, N.C. State, Tennessee, Miami, Virginia, Florida State, St. John's and Baylor.
When asked what factors would weigh heavily in his decision, Wall noted an up-tempo playing style and a coach with a proven track record for developing NBA players.
“Most schools (provide) a good education,” he said. “So you don't have to worry about that.”
Wall, who was listed at 6-foot-3 by the Nike-sponsored Skills Academy, is from Raleigh, N.C. He said he visited Kentucky for the football weekends against LSU and Louisville, then again for Big Blue Madness as sort of a reward.
“That was the school coming the hardest,” he said of UK's recruiting effort. “They came a lot to talk to me at school. They came to a lot of games. They came to practice. I just thought I'd take two visits there and have a good time watching football games. Then for Midnight Madness, I felt comfortable with that school.”
In its spring ratings, the Prep Stars recruiting service listed Wall at No. 5 among the nation's top 100 high school senior-to-be prospects.
The Hoop Scoop recruiting service judged him the best point guard at the LeBron James Skills Academy and the second-best overall prospect at the event.
The service rated sophomore-to-be Michael Gilchrist, a 6-6 wing from Somerdale, N.J., as the best player in camp.
UK, U of L vie for players
Among the players listing Kentucky and Louisville on their lists was Dante Taylor, a 6-8 power player from Fort Washington, Md.
Taylor, who will be a high school junior next season, said he had received “a lot of mail” from UK and U of L.
He also listed Georgetown, Maryland, UConn, Memphis, Kansas, Pittsburgh and Villanova.
Another junior-to-be who listed UK and U of L was Roscoe Smith, a 6-8 wing from Baltimore.
“I'm very wide open,” said Smith, who also listed Indiana among his possibilities. “I don't have a top 15 or 10. I'm letting them all come along.”