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By HAL MORRIS
LEXINGTON Ã¢â‚¬â€Ã‚Â John Wall knows players are going to try to make a name by trying to outduel him.
ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what goes along with being the top pick in the NBA draft, but the former Kentucky point guard ignores those types of distractions and just tried to get better during the NBA Summer League.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t read anything into it. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just like high school and college. People, no matter how good a game they played, had their moments against me,Ã¢â‚¬Â Wall said Friday at the John Calipari ProCamp at Memorial Coliseum. Ã¢â‚¬Å“But itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not all about one-on-one, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not AAU or anything like that. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s about helping my program get better, helping my team get better and winning basketball games.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what I was trying to do in Vegas. They were trying to make it into a battle, but I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t focus on that I just stayed focused on my game and the game plan my coaching staff and I have.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Wall, who was drafted by the Washington Wizards, got a huge reception in Washington after the draft that included a video of other athletes doing the John Wall Dance, along with a big outdoor welcoming party.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“They accepted me pretty well. They had a highlight video of all their big hockey players and (Redskins quarterback Donovan) McNabb doing my dance, and that means a lot,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s still a dream come true. Sometimes IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll sit back in my hotel room and be shocked and amazed that all this has happened.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Now I just have to stay humble, keep working and do what people in the WizardsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ organization tell me and just prepare myself.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The huge welcome he got doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t compare to what he got as a Wildcat.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s nowhere near the same. Kentucky is always going to be on top. Their fans are great, thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just nothing IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve seen that can beat it. Kentucky is like another family to me. So every chance I have to come back and be on campus I will,Ã¢â‚¬Â Wall said.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The opportunity to be around the basketball program means a lot, and hopefully I can be there for years to come and come back to a game and be one of those people to come out and throw up the Ã¢â‚¬ËœYÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ (in the Kentucky cheer). ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the biggest thing I want to do.Ã¢â‚¬Â
That love from the UK faithful is a message he wants to send to future Wildcats as well. Wall said he bonded with former Calipari point guards Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans, and tried to develop the same sort of relationship with new UK guard Brandon Knight.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I knew Brandon since I was in 10th grade and I talked to him and we played against each other. I always thought he was a talented player,Ã¢â‚¬Â Wall said.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I was wishing he would have come here, and I hope he doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t feel pressure to do the same things I did or be like me or anything like that. Just let him come in and play his game and be Brandon Knight because that is the Best thing he can do. I just hope he comes out and has a greatÃ‚Â season.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Wall said itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been a quick learning process in the NBA, and credits assistant coach Sam Cassell, a longtime NBA point guard, for helping him.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Just like coach (Rod) Strickland did (at UK), he taught me pretty much everything I needed to know about point guard in the NBA,Ã¢â‚¬Â Wall said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Every year there is something you can do to get better and develop your game.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been a great experience. The NBA is a different level of basketball, but itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a different speed but IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got a great coaching staff.Ã¢â‚¬Â
HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s also not surprised how well former UK teammate DeMarcus Cousins played in the summer league.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“They gave him the ball a lot more in the post. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s who people wanted to see in the summer league, and he did a great job,Ã¢â‚¬Â Wall said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“His coaches and everybody here knew how talented he was.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Now in the NBA, everyone can see he can pay. We all knew he could play atÃ‚Â the next level as long as he kept his head straight, and thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been doing.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Wall said he has been blessed for his opportunities, and that is some of what he was trying to get across to the campers on Friday.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“At this age I wish I would have had opportunity to talk to NBA guys,Ã¢â‚¬Â Wall said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Yeah, it means a lot to me. You also got to stay humble through this whole situation.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It just shows you that if you work hard and get on the right page, you can turn things around. I could have been on the wrong page and not been here and nobody would haveÃ‚Â heard of me, but credit goes to my mom for telling the right things to do and surrounding myself with the right people helping me get through.Ã¢â‚¬Â