Breaking the Wall
John Wall discusses going from unranked to the No. 1 pick.
SLAM: You ended up getting selected for the camp’s All-Star game. How would describe the attention you received from college coaches following the camp?
JW: After the camp, I had a whole lot of them calling me. It was just amazing to finally reach what I did. And it didn’t stop there. A lot of people were saying that the week was just a fluke. But I just kept playing the same way.
SLAM: Going into Chicago, did you ever think you had a chance a blowing up the way you did?
JW: No, I didn’t think of it. I just thought of it as an opportunity of playing against guys that I would probably never get a chance to. It turned out to be the best for me.
SLAM: Now you’re an endorser of Reebok and doing commercials for them. How does that feel considering you came up under their headliner Try Out system?
JW: It fees great. They were the first ones to give me an opportunity to show my talent. The thing they have that other camps don’t is they have tryouts in other states for unknown players, who don’t have a name or are unranked. They have the same opportunity I got—to get invited to the Breakout Camp. To get an opportunity to have a camp kinda’ after me, for the story I had with Reebok, it’s special. For me to go back and let the kids know my story, and be around them and do drills with them.
SLAM: There will be kids in Philly this week with lots of talent looking for a chance to blow up just like you did four years ago. What advice do you have for them?
JW: Just go out there and play your game. It’s a great opportunity to display your talent to the world by getting invited to this big camp. Just go out there and try to get your name the way I did.
SLAM: How hard was it to adjust to your new life, where you went from being unknown to all the national exposure you received in a matter of a week?
JW: It was tough at first. It was shocking because I was known in North Carolina but then when I got known nationally, every time I walked into a gym, they knew who I was and they would try to play hard against me and get a name off me. So I had to keep that same kind of mentality I had going to the Reebok camp.
SLAM: You’ll be at the camp next week. What are you looking to stress with this year’s invitees?
JW: Just play and enjoy the week and your time out here. Just play video games with them, talk to them and tell them to just play hard and it’s a great experience and a way to get your name known.
SLAM: Lets talk a little about your rookie season. It was an up and down year with all the injuries. First of all, how’s the knee feeling and how would describe your rookie year?
JW: I think it was pretty good. You know, playing through injuries and fighting back. Now I’m back working out and doing the things I need to do to get in the best shape.
SLAM: How challenging was going through tendonitis and all the treatment and rehabbing?
JW: It wasn’t just tendinitis though. Tendinitis kept going through the same time. You know how that can get. Sometimes, if it don’t be the right way and it’s hard to play through it. But you just gotta’ go out there and keep working on your game.
SLAM: Was it hard adjusting to the NBA level?
JW: It wasn’t that hard. I think I started off the season pretty good until I got hurt. It’s just about adjusting to bigger guys guarding you, jumping out on screens, and how you do things. But I just figured that out throughout the season.
Here’s a small video clip of that well noted 2007 tryout in Chicago that began John Wall’s rise to the top.