John Wall: Washington Wizards Point Guard
Nov 08, 2013 12:15PM ● Published by Cate Reynolds
Washington Wizards point guard John Wall looks like he is growing into his awesome potential.
Wall caught the attention of the National Basketball Association with some phenomenal games late last season, his third year in the league. He scored 47 points against Memphis and had 37 versus Indiana.
Finally looking like their franchise player, the Wizards gave Wall a five-year, $80 million contract extension in late July.
But it took the 23-year-old Wall, a native of Raleigh, N.C., a while to get there. Washington drafted him No. 1 overall in 2010 after one season at the University of Kentucky, where he led the Wildcats to the Elite Eight. Wall’s first two years in Washington were kind of rocky, disappointing, and pressure-filled, considering the Wizards were viewing him as their savior.
Instead, the 6-foot-4-inch, 195-pound ball handler put up mediocre numbers, averaging 16 points a game on two woeful teams that went 43-105 in that span.
We sat down with Wall for a one-on-one.
Washington hasn’t been to the playoffs since the 2008 season. How eager are you to lead the Wizards back to the postseason?
My goal is certainly to lead the team to the playoffs. It’s not just me. I know my teammates are going to help me. I can’t do it by myself. I think the organization is headed in the right direction. We are close to being a playoff team and hopefully I can bring a championship to this city.
What’s the difference between you as a player now and when you were a rookie?
I really have changed my pace of the game. I am not just going one speed. And I really have worked on my jump shot. It has gotten a lot better.
Shooting guard Bradley Beal was the team’s heralded rookie last season and he was only 19. You came into the league at the same age. Have you reached out to offer him advice and mentor him?
He is like a little brother to me. I try to help him as much as I can, but both of us were very mature when we came into the league. We know what is right and wrong. I try to look out for him as much as possible. Whenever he needs advice, I will give him my opinion on something or the other veterans in the locker room will.
You became the face of the Wizards when they drafted you No. 1 overall in June of 2010. How did you deal with spotlight and pressure that comes with it?
It was pretty cool. As long as you are humble and hungry, and willing to work hard, you will be alright. You can’t take all the blame or the credit. You have to give a lot of credit to your teammates. Everybody expected us to come out and have a winning record right away, but when you get drafted that high [Washington was coming off a 26-56 season], it’s hard for your team to come out and make the playoffs right away.
What has surprised you about playing in the NBA?
When I first came into the league, I was just getting ready to play in the NBA. Then in my second season, I took some time off because we didn’t know when the lockout would end. And going into my third season, I worked extra hard during the summer. I will continue to do that every summer.
What causes do you devote your time to and why?
My dad John Sr. passed away because of cancer so I try to do something with cancer research. If any of my teammates or other NBA players I know have some charity stuff going on or a foundation, I really try to come out and show my support.
What do you like to do to relax after a game?
I just like to listen to music or hang out with my family when they come to see my games. I also play 2K [video games] and really like to watch movies.
You threw out the first pitch at a Nationals game in 2011. How big a fan are you of the other Washington pro sports teams and have you interacted with other local sports stars?
I really like to go to Redskins games. I went to a Caps playoff game. That is pretty exciting. I have to go to more. I definitely want to go to more baseball games and I want to go to a D.C. United game. I talk to RGIII a lot. He’s cool and laid back. I went to a Redskins game with Ovechkin.
What is your impression of D.C. in terms of entertainment and nightlife?
The nightlife is cool and I think the entertainment is great. There are a lot of monuments, museums, and different sites you can go see. It’s also a great place to eat and great place to love sports. The fans definitely love a lot of basketball here. It’s great to see a lot of fans coming out and supporting us.