Friday, November 6, 2009
Wall leads Kentucky past Clarion
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- John Wall proved to be worth the wait.
The heralded Kentucky freshman scored 27 points in his collegiate debut as the fourth-ranked Wildcats rolled past Clarion 117-52 on Friday night in an exhibition game.
"I asked him, 'Is that your 'A' game?" Kentucky coach John Calipari said. "He was pretty good."
Maybe even better than advertised after Wall was forced to sit out Kentucky's exhibition opener on Monday as part of an NCAA suspension for accepting improper benefits from his former AAU coach.
He didn't waste any time getting comfortable against the Golden Eagles, an NCAA Division II school in western Pennsylvania.
Wall nearly outscored Clarion in the first half and showcased a little bit of everything, from a dunk to a 3-pointer to a nifty behind-the-back dribble for a layup.
"He's the real deal," Clarion coach Ron Righter said. "I hope (Kentucky) can keep him because he's in another league."
Wall's teammates weren't too bad either.
DeMarcus Cousins added 20 points, Patrick Patterson scored 14 and Darius Miller, Darnell Dodson and Ramon Harris had 11 apiece for Kentucky, which played with the kind of electricity lacking during a somewhat sloppy victory over Campbellsville on Monday.
Wall watched that game from the bench, clad in gray sweatpants. He looked more comfortable in a white jersey, running Calipari's "dribble drive" offense.
"College is just like high school," Wall said. "It's not a one-man show here. I've got Kentucky across my chest and so does everybody else."
Mike Sherry led Clarion with 11 points. The Golden Eagles presented Calipari, who played guard for the school from 1979-1982, with two replica jerseys before the game.
The Wildcats didn't exactly return the favor.
Wall received a rousing ovation when introduced with the starters and didn't take long to start showcasing some of talent that has some experts predicting his time with the Wildcats will be short.
He hit a 3-pointer in the opening minutes -- not bad for a player whose shooting stroke is seemingly the only question mark in his game -- and proved nearly unstoppable with the ball in his hands in the new offense being installed by Calipari.
For all the explosiveness Wall showed, what impressed Calipari most about his new star was his willingness to get his teammates involved. Wall finished with nine assists and could have had a handful more if he'd kept his head up for a cutting teammate.
"He'd come out and I'd come over to him and he'd already know [what I was going to say]," Calipari said. "Sometimes he was a little too fast."
It's a problem Calipari and the Wildcats can live with if they continue to play with the electricity they showed in front of a standing room only crowd only too eager to see Wall-mania lift off.
The Wildcats did whatever they wanted whenever they wanted, shooting 59 percent from the field, making 25 of 30 free throws and knocking down eight 3-pointers.
"That's as talented a team, in his system, this early in the season as I've seen," Righter said.
And the Wildcats played without their other lightning quick freshman, as Eric Bledsoe sat out with an ankle injury. Freshman forward Daniel Orton left the game early with chest soreness and is listed as day-to-day.
Calipari hopes both players will be ready for next week's season opener against Morehead State. Wall will be on the sidelines again serving out the remainder of his NCAA suspension.
"It's going to be tough to sit down, but I'm happy to have it behind me," Wall said.