I think John Wall may have a bone to pick with North Carolina. He's downplaying it, but I really think that he feels jilted by Roy Williams & Co. Worse, he may feel outright disrespected, as though Williams thought him somehow unworthy of a scholarship offer, or some kind of "trouble."
Now, the story is well-known that Roy Williams called John Wall at one point in the process. It is also well known that Brian Clifton, the AAU coach responsible for Wall having to sit out two games this year, strongly disliked Roy Williams. What we really don't know is why.
A couple of Tar Heel blog posts offer some insight into this whole kerfuffle. This one essentially suggests that it's illogical for Clifton to like Krzyzewski and dislike Williams. I had to laugh at that, but you can't blame a Tar Heel fan for defending a coach that has brought them two national championships, or for disliking the coach of arch-rival Duke -- at least UK fans and Tar Heel fans share that particular emotion.
What is there, though, is this interesting point:
This is not to say Roy is not without his flaws. I also think it is possible that Roy or his staff may have mishandled interactions with Clifton leaving a bad impression.
Yes, that is possible, and quite frankly, Clifton is an unsavory and unreliable character, in my opinion, no matter what Wall thinks of him. So it's hard to blame ol' Roy if he was less than pleased about the prospects of having Clifton in the picture. But if you were Williams, and lacking a true point guard like he is now, would you let that stop you from recruiting a home-state player that is ranked as one of the best pure point guards in recent history?
More after the jump.
Then, there is this post that purports to explain why Williams did not recruit Wall, and this, at least, is plausible:
In addition, UNC has a phenomenal combo guard in Dexter Strickland and a top rated pure point guard in Kendall Marshall joining the squad in 2009 and 2010, respectively. A rumor once circulated that Marshall was even promised by Williams that he would not take any more point guards until 2011, as a condition for taking Marshall on so early (he committed at the end of his 10th grade season). Whether or not this is true, there’s no question that the addition of Wall would ruffle at least a couple of players’ feathers (or their parents’, which can be even worse). Tricky family politics and the weakening of fragile player egos is a headache Williams does not want.
If Kendall Marshall actually dictated to Williams the terms of his matriculation, that shows far more weakness in Williams than I would have imagined. What the author is essentially saying is that every other parent or guardian would be upset about Wall coming to North Carolina. I find that funny, and if true, belies the Williams' reputation as a strong personality who does the right thing for the right reasons.
There is also some discussion of Walls failure to qualify on the first test score being a concern, but as we well know, Wall is a very good student and is approaching it with the same competitive spirit as he approaches his basketball. Wall has proven himself to be a young man of exceptional character, and if Williams could not see past his first non-qualifying entrance exam score, then his blindness would belie his outstanding record as a recruiter.
Then, there is this:
Finally, Wall has a handler named Brian Clifton who has gone on record as saying he hates UNC. One of his biggest concerns is control over Wall’s use, and control over who his NBA agent will be. Clifton knows that Williams will never work through him, or even keep him in the loop. Roy Williams recruits players, not handlers or influencers. This has lost UNC recruits in the past (like Delvon Roe). The reasons for the strict rules on recruiting are part of Williams’ principles that keep his program, and his conscience, clean. The presence of Clifton and all the tampering and agenda inserting that he would bring is a mess Roy Williams won’t desire to clean up.
I'm quite confident Calipari is not "working through" Brian Clifton in any way, so this is just a bunch of hooey. Wall can have whatever agent he wants when he decides to go on to the next level. There is no reason to believe that Roy Williams had more (or less) reason to be concerned about Clifton than Calipari did. This is nothing more than an attempt to use Williams' reputation as a "man of principle" (hear that, Kansas?) to cast aspersions on Wall, suggesting Brian Clifton's and Wall's interests are one and the same.
Larry Vaught takes up arms against the UNC fans attacking John Wall's character, which is really an unfortunate thing for fans of any stripe to do. Nobody could disagree that Brian Clifton is a suspect guy, but don't you think Williams could have made an offer contingent on the understanding that Clifton stayed away? Sure, he could have.
But he didn't. Good for us.
In the end, what was Carolina's loss is clearly our gain. We got an outstanding young man who works as hard in the classroom as on the basketball court. I hope he keeps his emotions under control on Saturday, although that could be difficult. I am quite confident that he feels kicked to the curb by Williams, and I expect beating his team would make Wall especially happy.