Early this year, Jason Kidd, the legendary point guard, was asked to list the NBA players he expected to take up the torch as master of the triple-double. In addition to the usual suspects -- LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Rajon Rondo -- Kidd named John Wall, the second-year point guard for the Washington Wizards.
In only two seasons, 21-year-old Wall has emerged as one of the NBA's youngest, most complete and explosive players. Today, he joins Rondo, Deron Williams and Blake Griffin as an official Red Bull athlete.
"I’m an avid Red Bull drinker,” Wall says. “I drink Red Bull all the time before games. It gets me hyped up. It gives me energy, that speed, that boost in games.”
Wall, who recorded a triple-double in his rookie season, filled the stat box again last year, averaging 16 points, 8 assists and 4.5 rebounds a game. The rebound number is startlingly high for a point guard, and Wall credits some advice he once received from Kidd.
“Jason Kidd once told me that he got a lot of his triple-doubles by just standing at the free throw line,” he recalls. “A lot of rebounds just drop in to him."
Wall listened and worked hard on the technique. "In the beginning it wasn’t working for me," he says. "But he’s a [future] Hall of Famer, so I stuck with it, and it ended up working out for me, especially when you play a team that shoots a lot of jump shots. There’s a lot of long rebounds coming and those are the ones the guards have to get."
“My coaches taught me that it’s always easier for me to start the break if I rebound the ball," explains Wall, who is known for starting and finishing fastbreaks in spectacular fashion. "Just helping my team rebound makes the job easier for my big men and guys have to worry about boxing me out.”
Raised in Raleigh, North Carolina, Wall was the number one ranked high school basketball player in 2009, according to Rivals.com. Virtually ambidextrous, blessed with tremendous speed and possessing remarkable court vision, he averaged close to a triple-double his senior year in high school (21 points, nine assists and seven rebounds) and was heavily recruited. He chose the University of Kentucky.
“I drink Red Bull all the time before games. It gets me hyped up. It gives me energy, that speed, that boost in games.”
Wall played one year in Lexington and declared his eligibility for the NBA draft after averaging 16.6 points and 6.5 assists per game as a freshman. He was the number one overall pick by the Wizards in the 2010 draft, and has since lived up to his promise as one of the most exiciting players in the NBA. But he's not resting on his laurels.
Eager to improve his skills with the NBA offseason underway, Wall traveled to California to work with renowned fitness trainer Gunnar Peterson. The two focus on Wall’s weight lifting and core training.
Wall is also working this summer with basketball trainer Rob McClanaghan, who has sharpened the skills of Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans and O.J. Mayo, among others. Wall and McClanaghan are working on improving Wall’s post-up moves and his jump shot, in particular. Wall wants to become a knock-down three-point shooter.
Wall says he’s excited about the Wizards’ upcoming season for several reasons. The team ended the 2011-12 campaign by winning its final six games and eight of the last 10. The late-season addition of Nene gave the team a boost on the interior, while the offseason acquisition of center Emeka Okafor and forward Trevor Ariza gives Washington a pair of savvy veterans.
But as much as Wall wants to look forward, he always remembers a sobering moment from his past. He was cut from his high school basketball team, an event that changed his life.
“It just made me more motivated,” Wall says. “I thought, ‘Man. Anything could happen to anybody.’ I just started working even harder. From that day forward, everything started to change.”
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