Wall, in his first official collegiate game, finished with 19 points, 5 assists, and 3 steals to go along with a game winner at the buzzer to cap a 72-70 UK victory. He played a little out-of-control at times (he had 5 turnovers, not to mention at least two plays that I can think of where he was totally bailed out by the officials), but some of that, I think, is a product of his otherworldly athleticism: He’s come to believe that he can do just about anything out there, just about anytime he wants– so why not try?
I’m suddenly realizing just how tough it is to formulate an argument for someone’s athleticism without some sort of quantifiable attribute to back it up (a 40-time or a vertical leap, for instance). But John Wall is an exception; anyone that watches him play can see that. This will seem strange, but the guy Wall most reminds me of: Michael Vick.
Watching Wall now reminds of those first few times I watched Michael Vick play football at Virginia Tech. Vick was faster than everyone, and his arm was stronger than most, but that alone didn’t even come close to doing his game justice: Athletically, he was just on a different level than everyone else. And that’s how Wall is. He looks like a high-schooler playing with middle-schoolers out there, or a boy competing in a girls game. The way he changes direction, accelerates, elevates, stops on a dime…it’s all done with a fluidity and grace that makes it seem so easy it almost borders on unimpressive. Sort of like the way Vick did it at VA Tech. But moving on…
DeMarcus Cousins reminds me of a bigger Antoine Walker. Some of the comparisons are fairly obvious: Post player who not-so-secretly wants to be a wing, rebounds well even when he’s out of position, looks like he could put on a lot of weight if he’s not careful, etc. But something about his fluidity around the rim and ability to turn terrible looking turnarounds and put-backs into effective ones reek of ‘Toine.
Finally, the way this team is able to put the ball in the basket brings back memories of the ’96 Cats (Hyperbole Alert!). Almost every player on the team (Harris, Stevenson, and, if he ever plays, Liggins being the exceptions) is a legitimate threat to score when they’re out there. When was the last time Kentucky could say that? I think that was our biggest problem last year: It doesn’t matter how well you move the ball or run your offense, when there’s only two guys on the court (Patterson and Meeks) who are any real threat to make a shot, it makes life pretty easy for the defense. That’s not something we have to worry about this year.