by Jack Maidment
Hype: the one thing absolutely guaranteed in American sports today.
The media’s insatiable appetite for The Next Big Thing has created a society that awaits the coverage of any upcoming special athlete with bated breath.
However, the majority of those people who are thrust into the spotlight at an early age and are instantly labelled The Future, rarely attain the type of success predicted for them. In fact, most achieve relative sporting mediocrity at best.
It is rare indeed for an athlete to absolutely fulfil and then proceed to go way past the expectations bestowed upon them in their teenage years.
It is because of this that an air of cynicism now accompanies those who are tagged for greatness.
A frown and a ‘yeah right’.
John Wall, however, is as advertised. Absolutely.
The University of Kentucky freshman will play college ball this year safe in the knowledge that expectations could be no higher.
Final Four. #1 pick. NBA Franchise Saviour.
That is his future.
Or at least it should be. And now that he has such goals associated with him, anything less will be seen as a failure.
Luckily for Wall and basketball fans around the world, there can be little doubt that he is firmly on the path to greatness as prophesied by so many.
At 6’4, Wall is a big guard. He is tall for a 1 and solid for a 2, especially at the college level, and as such proposes opposing college back courts with real match up head aches.
Combine his size and strength with his blistering speed and there is simply no way to play him: he will go round you, through you or if he has to, or rather wants to, over you.
His ability to slash and finish at the rim are Wade-esque: normally the kind of comparison which would raise considerable eyebrows. In Wall’s case it is entirely appropriate. He is that good.
John Calipari has said that Wall is further along the development scale at this stage of his career than his ex students Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans. Considering the impact that both of those players are having in the NBA, there can be little doubt as to where Wall is headed and the kind of career that he could experience in professional basketball.
His performance against UNC officially announced his entry onto the national consciousness, a place where he is destined to stay and grow for a very long time.
Don’t believe the hype?
No really, do.