by Jacob Swiger
It's finally over.
Several news organizations are reporting the 2009 top point guard recruit John Wall will commit to Kentucky after a crazy recruitment period, ending a tale worthy of J. R. R. Tolkien.
Just when it seemed likely that John Wall could end up at Miami or Duke, the reigning champion Tar Heels avoided competing against the likely 2010 No. 1 NBA Draft pick ... for an ACC crown at least.
The Tar Heels and coach Roy Williams, who made a late push in the Wall saga by calling him at the Final Four, will travel to Lexington to face a revamped Kentucky squad next season that has assuredly replaced UNC with the No. 1 recruiting class.
Wall said that John Calipari's grooming of past guards such as Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans ultimately led to this decision.
"It was a great job he did the last two years with his guards,” Wall told Scout.com. "The other coaches did a great job but that relationship got them over."
Other finalists for Wall included Duke, Miami, N.C. State, Baylor and Florida. UNC had some contact with the Raleigh native but never officially offered a scholarship.
Kentucky is loaded for a Final Four run after several disappointing seasons; much like UNC in the past few years it will be interesting to see how Calipari organizes the wealth of talent.
Not to be lost in the significance of this story, Duke's miss on another big time recruit is not a good sign for a program with an image crisis. Heck, the athletic department is even beginning to spit out propaganda.
Duke really needed Wall to juice up a program that has predictably faded in the NCAA tournament despite compiling nearly 30 wins a season. High-profile recruits are simply beginning to look elsewhere.
The Blue Devils are now left thin at the guard position -- and much their rival eight miles down the road -- will employ tall lineups to compensate for a lack of backcourt depth.
Miami became the sexy pick for recruiting gurus probably because the idea of Wall sliding in where Jack McClinton left off would be fun to watch in the ACC. Plus, who doesn't like South Beach?
Wall even gave an informal commitment to Miami last week but told coach Frank Haith Tuesday of his decision to play for Kentucky, according to ESPN's Andy Katz.
Although Wall never listed Carolina as a favorite, something seemed fishy about UNC's interest in Wall following the NCAA title run. Wall speaks of Carolina like a long-lost love that got away, but something didn't click between the two.
Williams' call to Wall really sent the Wall sweepstakes into a frenzy, but from what it appears the call was the extent of the contact as no scholarship was offered, despite Wall claiming Ty Lawson is his favorite player and UNC his favorite school -- seen on his MySpace.
Walls' adviser Brian Clifton has what some would call a personal vendetta against Williams, which might have been one hurdle that prevented UNC from becoming a real player.
"I don’t have any respect for Roy Williams," Clifton told 850 the Buzz. "I encourage [my players] to play for guys that will inspire them to be good people."
That and the presence of scholarship sophomore point guard Larry Drew II might have given Williams enough of a reason to steer clear. But last season Drew did not appear ready to step in for Lawson, who declared for the NBA draft, which makes it even more bizarre that Williams wouldn't at least offer Wall.
Katz also reported that if the decision was up to Clifton, Wall would've committed to Duke.
Now all that's left is to see what this guy can do in college. No pressure, Wall, but now Kentucky -- along with Kansas -- is a likely preseason title contender.
Well, this is all assuming Wall qualifies for Kentucky. He is waiting on his SAT scores, which means the saga might still be young....