Wall bids farewell to Cats, enters NBA Draft


John Wall announces that he will be leaving UK after one year of play and entering the NBA draft at a press conference in Memorial Coliseum on Thursday, April 22, 2010. Photo by Scott Hannigan

He can’t do his laundry and he can’t cook, but John Wall is likely to be the No. 1 pick in this summer’s NBA Draft.

The electric 6-foot-4 guard from Raleigh, N.C., held a news conference Thursday morning to tell media and family members, including his mother, Frances Pulley, he will be entering the draft.

“(UK head coach John Calipari) told me I had a chance … it was just going to take a lot of hard work and dedication, and that’s the type of person I am,” Wall said. “I always want to work hard, stay humble and hungry, and I came in and did what I was supposed to this year.”

Expectations for Wall varied from person to person since he signed with the Cats in May of 2009.

Wall arrived in Lexington as the premier player in a recruiting class many experts perceived as one of the best of all time. His ball handling, vision and speed were attributes that had the Big Blue Nation dropping their collective jaws, and after one dance at Big Blue Madness in mid-October, the legend was born. As the season progressed, the John Wall Dance swept the globe. Drinks at local bars were even named after the freshman phenom.

“I knew a lot of expectations would be set for me because of what type of player I was coming out of high school,” Wall said. “But I didn’t know all of it was going to be like it was, like a three-second dance and all the other things and so much expectations for this team. But I loved every second, every moment that we had at the University of Kentucky.”

En route to setting UK freshman records in points, assists and free throws made, Wall earned Southeastern Conference Player of the Year honors and was named a first-team All-American by the Associated Press. With recruiting season in full blast, Wall said he would recommend UK to any student-athlete still considering which school to go to.

Meanwhile, Wall will move on, and take on the responsibilities of an adult drawing an NBA paycheck. During the season, Big Blue Nation found out Wall’s fear of needles, but it seems needles aren’t the only hindrance for the teenager.

“I’m trying to still learn how to wash clothes and things like that,” Wall said. “And it ain’t working.”

Wall, who wore a black suit with pinstripes and a purple tie to the news conference, said he wasn’t worried about what he was going to buy first with his money.

“I have one suit, this is the only suit I got. I wear this to every press conference,” Wall said. “I’m just worried about getting my mom a house and car and just let her relax. Just show her that I care and love her so much for all the stuff she did for me.”

Wall said he didn’t really care what team he was drafted by and didn’t have a favorite team, but he hoped UK fans would come out and support him.

“I never thought college would be this fun for me,” Wall said. “I said I had fun in high school and AAU, but every time I sit back and watch a highlight video of this team this year, I sit back and I cry in my room because it’s so emotional. I never thought that this team would be this special, and the players and the coaching staff meant a lot to me.

“I’m always going to be a Kentucky Wildcat for the rest of my life. Like I said, the fans and the people support us all year long. Why wouldn’t you want to come here?”