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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.
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Wednesday / February 21.
  • Report: Wall facing eligibility issues

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    Kentucky freshman point guard John Wall is facing eligibility concerns because of his relationship with his former AAU coach, Brian Clifton, according to a report.

    Clifton, who coached Wall with the D-One Sports program and was with him in the summer of 2008 at the Steve Nash Skills Academy in New Jersey, was a former certified agent.

    “Those are amateur issues that arose prior to their coming to our schools,” SEC Commissioner Mike Slive told Dana O’Neil and Pat Forde of in reference to Wall and Mississippi State freshman big man Renardo Sidney. “Those are strictly amateurism issues. As we told our people, somebody needs to determine if they are eligible. It’s not relative to you, it’s relative to them.”

    According to the report, Wall may have to repay any and all expenses Clifton paid for during the period he was an agent.

    Wall could also be withheld from at least 10 percent of Kentucky’s games as part of the punishment.

    Kentucky coach John Calipari told at Thursday’s SEC media day that Wall is further along in his development than former Memphis guards Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans, both of whom are in the NBA.

    “John right now is probably farther along today than they were,” Calipari said. “Those two when they got it and they felt the offense, they were unleashed and they weren’t afraid to make The Play. When we’re in a tough game and it’s on the road, is he going to make the play that those two did? I have no idea.”

    If Wall isn’t eligible to start the season, the Wildcats have the luxury of  playing fellow freshman Eric Bledsoe, who chose Kentucky over Memphis even after the ‘Cats had landed Wall.

    Several of the nation’s top freshman are facing eligibility issues related to amateurism concerns, including Wall, Sidney and Cincinnati freshman Lance Stephenson, the Big East Preseason Rookie of the Year who is also awaiting word from the NCAA Clearinghouse.

    “He’s cleared academically so we’re just waiting on the amateur thing,” Bearcats coach Mick Cronin told me Wednesday at Big East media day. “He’s not the only one going through it, so a lot of the elite players are going through it. We’ll see. Hopefully it’s done before the first game, I know that.”

    (Photo courtesy US Presswire)

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    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.

    • (Not a facetious comment)

      Although somewhat disappointing to hear, the fact that it was reported by Forde and Dana is somewhat discrediting in its own right. For some reason, he has done nothing but report negatively upon UK and report positively on L’ville. He is far too close to the situation and really needs to be removed from covering these stories. I do believe most of his work short of this summer is good though, but when you’re too close to a situation, biased opinions arise. This is good only for local media covering sports teams, not national columnists.

      This is my opinion, but now I will actually address the issue. Being close to the situation, I have confidence Wall will play the vast majority of games, maybe sitting out 3-4 games at most and paying back some money to Clifton IF*** it turns out that Clifton did provide inappropriate funds.

      (Possibly Facetious……)
      On a lighter note, wasn’t Ryan Kelly of Duke also on Brian Clifton’s team? Just food for thought.

      • Ryan Kelly’s parents are both Ivy League graduates (Yale and Penn) and educators at Ravenscroft. Ryan was an excellent student-athlete and role model, by being a McDonald’s All-American and scored a 2100 on the SAT.

        Let’s just say I don’t think anyone thinks Kelly or his parents were looking for handouts.

        • Nobody said anything about handouts in this entire ordeal. Simply stating that it is a Brian Clifton issue, and Kelly was a part of his team. So the fact that his parents went to a high profile school and have good job vs. John Wall’s mother makes RK “above” reproach? Look, I said it was food for thought, think about it more.

          • I’m glad Wall has hopefully turned his life around permanently, but, if you knew Ryan or Mrs. Kelly (the private school’s principal), you would know that it would be comical to think that they took anything from Brian or Dwon Clifton.

          • I still think your missing the point. It’s not HANDOUTS, it’s the little things that can add up to “over $101” Happy meals, basketballs, shirts. Small things most people don’t think about. CJ Leslie and Q miller were also part of D-One Sports (the name of the AAU team that Wall was on). Once again, I’m not attacking Kelly, I’m simply provoking thought. To help point you in the right direction think of the school that Kelly plays for and their history with violations (or lack thereof). COUGH *** Corey Maggette*** COUGH

          • (Not a facetious comment)

            BTW I forgot to put my disclaimer up before the last two posts, sorry if this threw you off from my true intentions of the post.

    • i want to see someone clear up his sat situation exactly. there are rumors swirling everywhere about that whole (potential) fiasco. Is it true his score jumped from around the 700’s to the 1300’s? if so that ought to raise an awful lot of ncaa clearinghouse eyebrows…

      • That was D. Rose. Wall’s is ONLY about the “Brian Clifton was an agent at one point” thing. I’m in wait and see mode as of right now.

        • i dont know man, ive seen Walls name linked with sat problems alot recently. thats why i want somebody to get to the bottom of it. (i.e a reporter needs to investigate)

          • (Not a facetious comment)
            As a person close to the situation, I PROMISE thats not the case. Swear on my life. Now, the reason you seeing that is probably because when he first committed, Wall hadn’t taken an ACT or a SAT before that. That might be what your pulling up. It was a small concern earlier this year, but when we heard that he made A’s in both of his summer classes, which was after the tests of course while others made B’s and C’s in thsoe classes, we stopped worrying. I hope that answers your question, becuase none of what is going on now is from his Standardized test scores, you have my word on that one.

          • yeah i know his test scores have nothing to do with the clifton situation.

            ive been reading multiple people posting in the past few days that his scores went from 700 to 1300. if that is true, that has shady written all over it. but its purely been an internet rumor, so i was hoping to get some clarification. thank you kindly, blasphemy. ill take your word for it unless new information comes out

          • Are you trying to knock the quality of education at Kentucky by suggesting that Wall got a pair of As in summer school or crediting him for developing into an elite student?

            What were the two classes that the Word of God product received As from Kentucky in?

          • avaricious-

            i was not trying to knock UK academically. i had heard speculation that he had shady SAT scores and merely wanted to know what was going on with that. nothing negative against UK.

    • Renardo Sidney also had amateur eligibilty issues that looked more “damning” than Wall’s yet he is going to play. This has been a known issue to Uk, SEC, Cal, Wall, and the NCAA, its just for some reason been brought up on ESPN about 6 months late

      • Can I get an Amen? AMEN

    • The WEST is unsurprised.

      Beat him to it.

      And does ANYONE believe blasphemy is ‘close to the situation’? There’s a lot of comedy on this site and that post ranks right up there.

    • ben-

      since blasphemy is a UK fan i trust he knows more about UK than i do, which is why until i see something from a credible news source ill take his word for it.

      • (Not a facetious comment)

        Thanks for understanding. Ya, I claim nothing more than being an ardent Uk follower and attending the University. I try to stay on top of the news as best I can while attending and have one inside source. As you can imagine that source is one of the players. Anyways, I hope that clears up how I’m defining “close to the situation.”

    • AZ,

      The WALL thing has been around UK for months already.
      And YET it is NOT resolved.

      What is going on ?

      1)HOW much does Wall need to pay back?

      2)Where will WALL get the money to pay it back?

      If this has been around a long time…the mutually agreed figure should already be confirmed. The math is not too hard for UK admin.

      I hear that Cali has two NBA teams which he would like to coach.

    • Everyone was so surprised on this site when K and Self they backed off of Wall last year. I guess this could be one explanation…

    • Although Bill Self has had some issues off the court with his players you have to admit the guy is a pretty smart recruiter. As Big Ben mentioned Self did a complete 180 and stopped the recruitment of John Wall, Renardo Sidney, and Lance Stephenson. He now has a top 5 recruiting class with no baggage. Apparently Thomas Robinson is tearing it up-can’t wait to see that guy play.

    • Another UK fan here, word on our premy boards (and free boards for that matter) is that this is not new news. UK’s compliance office has been aware of this and doesn’t believe it to be an issue (our compliance office is something serious). There was talk that wall would miss 10% of our games this year (something like 3 or 4), but i have read that our compliance office is pissed with how this is going down in the media and will not accept any suspension and if that is the route the NCAA attempts to take, it will not be met with strong opposition on UK’s side.

    • @BigBen you don’t “back-off” John Wall

    • LOL at UK thinking a) their compliance office is legitimate and b) that the NCAA cares if Kentucky “plans to oppose” their decision.

      • LOL at Big Ben thinking his posts are factual

        • I guess that must have been facetious.

          • I believe this is the first time you’ve actually considered my post facetious. Guess it’s convenient for you now but never before then. Strange.