We all remember back in 2009-10 when John Calipari took the job to be the next head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats. And when prized recruit John Wall came out for Big Blue Madness, he became a rock star from Day 1.
Before Wall was a five-time NBA All-Star, he completely re-energized the Kentucky program that had been down for a number of years and were putting the Billy Gillespie years behind them.
Many believe that if Kentucky added another top recruit in Xavier Henry, then the Cats would have won the title in 2010. But Wall almost didn’t end up in Lexington because of Henry.
Evan Daniels of 247 Sports did an interview with Wall where they talked about a number of topics including his path to and time at UK.
Wall was the No. 2 overall player in his class and was the No. 1 overall point guard. Wall knew that he wanted to play for Cal who was then at Memphis, but Calipari was in the process of becoming the Kentucky coach and figuring out which players from his class would be coming with him.
“He called me and told me he was about to change and I was like, ‘That’s fine, I like Kentucky anyway, I loved everything about their fanbase when I took a visit there,’” Wall said. “I took a visit there when Billy Gillespie was there, I loved everything about it. I just didn’t want to play with coach Gillespie so I’m like, ‘I’m going to go play at Memphis where Cal is.’ And he called me, and I was like, ‘perfect, I don’t even have to take a visit, I already know the atmosphere, I already know how it goes.”
Not long after that call, Wall and future teammate DeMarcus Cousins were selected to the Nike Hoop Summit and were teammates with Xavier Henry who was previously committed to Cal and Memphis.
“I was playing with Xavier [Henry] and Xavier was a talented player but he was just shooting the ball so much, so mad he wasn’t getting the ball, I called Cal up and was like, ‘‘Cal when you switch to Kentucky, if he’s coming, I promise I won’t go,’” Wall explained.
“I told him that straight up. I told him I can’t go because I was like me, DeMarcus, E-Bled [Eric Bledsoe] and all of these guys are about to sacrifice, and he has to sacrifice, we’re not going to get a lot of shots. We all are used to averaging over 25 or more on our team, and we’re not about to be like that and I don’t think he could buy into that.”
All throughout his time at Kentucky, Cal has preached about sacrificing for your teammates and talks about player who come here wont be getting 30 shots a game like they are used to and they have to be okay with that. Wall could tell that Henry wasn’t going to fit the system.
Henry, who was ranked as the No. 6 overall player in the class, ended up going to Kansas which made Wall’s decision a lot easier.
Wall went on to have a very special season at Kentucky, leading the Wildcats to a 35-3 record, an SEC Championship, and a run to the Elite Eight.
You can watch the entire interview that Evans had with Wall below.