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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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Friday / December 14.
  • John Wall Has Options; Simpkins Suspended

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    John Wall, the top player in the Class of 2009 according to Rivals, has some serious options for next year.

    It appears that it will come down to Baylor, Memphis and N.C. State, with Kansas, Oregon and Duke on the outside looking in.

    The Raleigh News & Observer has a long story on Wall, a 6-foot-4 North Carolina point guard, with several interesting quotes from the people close to him on his options.

    One option is Baylor, which hired Dwon Clifton, Wall’s former AAU coach.

    “I think he should go to Baylor,” said Brian Clifton, Wall’s advisor and Dwon’s brother.

    “We made efforts to explain [Dwon’s hiring] to people early on, but they’re all knowing, it’s a done deal, John’s been sold down the river, he’s got to go to Baylor,” Brian Clifton added. “John didn’t commit to Baylor then. Maybe he’ll go to Baylor. Maybe he won’t. Maybe he’ll go to Duke, N.C. State … he may go anywhere.”

    Still, Clifton doesn’t want Wall going to Duke, preferring instead a more free-flowing offensing scheme.

    “It would behoove him to be in a situation that he would be able to play for a coach who has a more free-flowing offense, who is going to afford him the opportunity to be expressive and to do the things that he needs to do [to prepare for the NBA],” Clifton said.

    It doesn’t sound like Wall’s high school coach, Levi Beckwith, is a big fan of Wall going to Duke, either.

    “I’m going to say, ‘Look, this is what John’s going to do. Now, what are you going to do when he does that?’ ” Beckwith said of a potential conversation with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. “When you’re playing Carolina and things aren’t going well, when you take him out of the game and he mumbles, ‘I shoulda gone to Carolina,’ which to you is disrespectful and it’s not the right thing to say … how long are you going to sit him out? If he’s going to be done for the year, then don’t take him.”

    The Word of God coach has this to say to Wall: “If you’re really serious about going to Duke, all this flashy stuff, stop it. And let’s see how you like it.”

    BEckwith said he likes Memphis, Baylor and N.C. State, but Brian Clifton doesn’t sound like a big N.C. State fan.

    “At N.C. State, I think they’ve got to get a little bit better. I don’t see any way around that,” he said. “The personnel they have now, I can’t see them [running] baseline to baseline. They just can’t do it with the guys that they have.

    Wall said he wants a coach who will push him and  team where he will fit in.

    “If you go to a school where you don’t get along with the coaches, y’all are having a lot of arguments, you’re not going to play, you might take more years than you expect to go to the next level,” he said. “I need a coach to push me to make sure I get to the next level as soon as possible.”


    Speaking of Memphis, freshman forward Matt Simpkins has been suspended indefinitely from the team. He was sent home in the middle of the Tigers’ road trip last week to Dallas and Spokane, Wash.

    “We’ll see if he can work his way back into the program,” Memphis coach John Calipari told the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. “He’s got a contract that’s very stiff.”

    Calipari said Simpkins had piled up several acts that brought on the suspension..

    “I’ve probably not given a player as many chances as I’ve given Matt,” Calipari said.

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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.