John Wall Interview
John Wall is fast.
That's not a news flash to anyone who has seen the North Carolina product in action.
Defenders at this level have virtually no chance to stay in front of him. He can make even the quickest guards look like their shoes have been dipped in cement.
Many players found out about Wall's speed the hard way during last week's Reebok Summer Championships in Las Vegas. The 6-foot-4 floor general from D-One Sports weaved and darted his way through defenses like a roadrunner toying with a coyote. With his sights set on a championship trophy, a fatigued Wall hit the, um, wall against Kenny Boynton, Brandon Knight and an impressive Team Breakdown squad in the tournament finals.
Throughout the week, he exploited every opportunity to flash those jets. He goes from zero to top speed in an instant. He can execute a crossover or a spin move without even tapping the breaks.
Wall's game isn't perfect -- he'll concede that he needs to work harder on defense, and his perimeter jump shot is best described as a work-in-progress -- but his kind of speed is a rare commodity.
That speed isn't exclusive to the basketball court. In this interview conducted on July 25, Wall spoke at a rate that would blow away even the most seasoned auctioneer.
Q: Do you think the success of young point guards like Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Derrick Rose has helped shine the spotlight on you?
A: It just seems like lately, there have been a lot of point guards coming out, like the guys you mentioned, OJ Mayo, Jerryd Bayless and so on who have been having a lot of success and changing the game for the point guard. They're strong, they can pass and they're more athletic [than point guards of the past]. I think I have the same kind of ability they have.
Q: When did you start getting noticed? When did you feel like basketball was going to be more than just a game to you?
A: I think when I went to Reebok [Summer Championships] last year, when I came out as one of the top five performers. That's when I realized things were going to change from then. I started getting listed as the No. 1 point guard in the nation. I knew everything was going to change then.
Q: Outside of yourself, who do you feel is the best prospect in the class of 2009?
A: I feel like there are a lot of really talented guys in our class. You've got Derrick Favors, Xavier Henry...you have Kenny Boynton, Renardo Sidney, John Henson, [Dexter] Strickland, kids like that. A lot of kids.
Q: What are your biggest strengths on the basketball court?
A: I feel getting my teammates involved, pushing the ball, and getting to the rim. First and foremost, though, getting my teammates involved like a real point guard should.
Q: How about some areas for improvement?
A: Jump shot, defense...sometimes, I slack off and don't want to play defense, but I can play it. I just have to work harder on that end.
Q: Who is the all-time best point guard and why?
A: Magic Johnson, most definitely. He was a tall point guard -- 6-8, 6-9 -- and he could do everything a smaller guy could do. He could post up, he could pass, he led the Lakers to a championship his first year in the league. He was unbelievable.
Q: What's your take on the Brandon Jennings situation? What do you think that's going to do to college recruitment?
A: I don't really think it's going to affect it all that much. I mean, there will be some kids who end up looking at Europe, but I wouldn't make that decision unless I couldn't get the grades. But, I know I'm getting the grades, so I'm not worried about making that decision.
Q: OK, you're playing a 3-on-3 tournament at Rucker Park and you can take any two teammates to run with you. Who are you running with?
A: Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant. Nobody would beat us.
Q: What separates a good player from a great player?
A: Good players already have the God-given ability. Great players take the step to keep working on their game. They're taking the time to listen to who's trying to help them, like AAU and high-school coaches. You can see the development as they keep working harder.
Q: Since you started seeing your name listed among the top prospects of 2009, have you felt like there's a target on your back?
A: Every time I go somewhere, I feel like there's been that target. You're going to get people saying you're overrated and things like that, and they feel that they should be in that position. But all I do is block it out, concentrate on the task at hand and help my team win basketball games. I try to stay humble and hungry.
Q: How important is a good showing at the Reebok Summer Championships?
A: I think that would be very important to me. If people are going to say you're the No. 1 point guard in the country, you have to come out here with a bang, like Brandon Jennings did last summer. That's what I want to do this summer.