Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
NEW YORK – As the No. 1 player in the Class of 2009, John Wall says he can’t wait to play in Friday’s Boost Mobile Elite 24 event in Harlem’s legendary Rucker Park.
“I’m very excited to come out here,” Wall said Thurday. “It’s one of the main courts, Rucker Park, and you’re out here with some of the other 23 great players…I’ve never really been to the park.”
And what does the North Carolina native think of New York on his fourth visit to the Big Apple?
“It’s a lot of traffic,” he said. “There’s more traffic than what it is back home. People are blowing the horn a lot, but it’s a big city, it’s a busy place.”
Wall said he’s looking forward to playing with Derrick Favors, Jordan Hamilton and Kenny Boynton on the Skip to My Lou team.
The Goat team features Lance Stephenson, Brandon Knight, Dexter Strickland and Abdul Gaddy.
Next year, he will also team up with former Oak Hill big man Keith “Tiny” Gallon, who is in the process of transferring to Word of God.
“We’ll have a big man that I can pass to,” he said. “He’s a great post player. We lost to him in the Peach Jam. He’s a great player; he’s going to help our team out a lot.”
As far as colleges, Wall maintains he’s “wide open” despite the recent hiring of his former AAU coach, Dwon Clifton, by Baylor head coach Scott Drew.
“The six schools that are coming at me the hardest are Memphis, Kansas, Kentucky, N.C. State, Baylor and Oregon,” he said. “I’m supposed to be having a home visit with Memphis (head coach John Calipari) Sept. 9, but we have to finalize that.”
Is Wall really considering all of these schools?
“Yeah, I’m really considering all of them,” he said. “Memphis, I like that school. I like their style of play. Oregon, Kansas, I like their style of play. N.C. State is right back home, so I feel like all the schools have the same interest in me right now. Baylor don’t have the lead, or nobody has the lead.”
Does Baylor have an edge with the Clifton hiring?
“It helps them a little bit because he was my AAU coach,” Wall said. “He worked me out most of my last two years of high school ball. He was like an older brother to me, something I don’t have, so it’s kind of a tight relationship. So that helps a little bit.”
Wall has already visited Baylor for an Elite Camp earlier this summer.
“It was before Vegas,” he said. “I couldn’t see much of the campus. I was there for a day and a half, so it was all right. My school’s small, so I could go to a small school and get my work done and get better at my game.”
Memphis is hanging tough and Wall said he’s still considering it.
“I just like the way they play,” he said. “And what they did for Derrick Rose, they just got him there (to the NBA). I’m trying to be one-and-done, but if it don’t I’ll stay in school and get my education.”
Still, Wall promised his mother, Francis Pulley, that he would get his college degree even if he leaves early.
“If I finish school early, I will go back and get my degree because I promised her I’d go to college,” he said. “That’s something I want to keep my word on.”
And when will he decide on college?
“It might be as soon as possible,” he said. “After I take my visit, if i feel it’s ‘the school I want to say it is, I’ll make the announcement right then and there.”
How good a player can he be?
“I feel like I can be a lot better at a lot of things,” he said. “This year, I’ve been working on my mid-range shot. That’s what I shoot a lot because people have to play up close to me so I can get past them easier.
“You can always work on your defense, your ballhandling. I like to change directions and mix up my speeds. Once I start mixing up my speeds, people can’t stay in front of no more. I feel like you always can get better.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.