In between games on Wednesday and Friday, Washington Wizards superstar shot back to his hometown of Raleigh to take in some of the games at the John Wall Holiday Invitational. During halftime and in between each game, you would have thought this dude was Denzel Washington in Hollywood. He literally took hundreds of photos with fans who came through The City of Oaks. Fortunately for us, he was able to give us a few minutes to chop it up after things ended.
John touched on why he became the title sponsor of the tournament, how unreal it was to have a tournament at the same high school he got cut from, and what the latest is on his sneaker situation.
SLAM: John, what made you decide to throw your name on the Holiday Invitational this year as the title sponsor?
John Wall: I just think that it’s a great tournament. I played in it and there are a lot of McDonald’s All-Americans, NBA players that came through there. For it to be in my hometown, it was great to put my name on it. I tried to get some big name guys to come back and play in it in the past to get it back to where it used to be when it was packed out every night.
SLAM: Is it surreal that you were cut in high school here at Broughton and now you are back here with your name on the biggest tournament in North Carolina?
JW: It’s definitely surreal. Every time that I go back in that gym, it’s surreal. I got cut, went to another school, and came back to win a championship every time I played here. I didn’t come in second place one time [after getting cut]. To have my name on it shows all of the hard work and dedication that I went through. I never gave up on anything. Everyone is still wondering why I got cut and I’m still wondering why I got cut, but that’s something I put past me.
SLAM: Were there any high school players that caught your eye here? Or maybe ones that you’ve seen on Instagram or YouTube?
JW: I don’t know the names of all of the guys there, but there are a lot of nice guys there. I don’t think basketball is the same as it used to be, but there are a lot of talented kids that you see on the college level or the NBA level killing. The Kevin Knox kid looked good, DeAndre Ayton, the kid going to VCU they played against (Lavar Batts), then the kid that was at Cannon. He’s pretty good. I like the way he plays.
SLAM: Speaking of guys that were here before and are at your alma mater, De’Aaron Fox has been putting in work. What do you think of he and Malik Monk’s NBA potential?
JW: They’re doing a great job. They’re probably the best backcourt in college basketball. They’re explosive, can shoot the ball, and are playing well. It’s exciting for me this year because I get to see them a lot because they play for Kentucky and are always on TV. Me and De’Aaron built a bond last year. When we were in Houston, I got there a day early and went to go watch him play in high school. I’m excited the way they’re doing and can’t wait to see them get to the pros.
SLAM: You’ve been rocking some interesting kicks on the court this year, man. How much are you looking forward to getting this shoe deal done? Do you have any clue when it’s going to happen?
JW: Nah, I have no clue. I basically banked on myself to see how well I play this year. I’m just sitting back and waiting. Maybe I’ll get one this year, maybe not. I’ll have one by this summer hopefully. I’m just doing the best I can to go out there, compete, and hopefully get my team to the playoffs.
Big thanks to David Walker for the photos