Dime #57: Do The John Wall

All due respect to Ohio State’s Evan Turner, who dutifully pointed out during last week’s Chicago pre-draft combine that he won all the National Player of the Year trophies, but John Wall was the biggest story in college basketball this season.

His Kentucky Wildcats didn’t live up to their national championship expectations, but on his way to putting up 16.6 points, 6.5 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game, Wall maintained his spot as the consensus No. 1 pro prospect in the nation. And if everything goes according to form, next month Wall will be chosen as the savior of the Washington Wizards — possibly signaling the exit of Dime’s last Wizards’ cover guy, Gilbert Arenas.

In a lot of ways, though, our Dime #57 cover guy has been a pro for months. He’s already got his own signature dance and a music video to go with it. He’s already been at the center of a recruiting battle between high-powered agents, marketing firms and sneaker companies. He’s already in the fold as part of basketball’s new power clique with LeBron James, John Calipari, “Worldwide Wes” and NBA stars D-Wade, Chris Bosh, Chris Paul, Joe Johnson and ‘Melo. Whether his next stop is D.C. or Philly or somewhere else thanks to a surprise trade, Wall is already at the next level.

But don’t sleep on the rest of the 2010 Draft class. In addition to Aron Phillips’ cover story on Wall — whom we shot down in Lexington, Ky., during the season — our second annual NBA Draft Preview blow-out is a must-read. How will the most controversial player on the board pan out in the pros? Which underrated player will we be talking about 10 years from now? For the best players and story lines you’ll need to know going into the June 24 event at Madison Square Garden, then all the way through summer league and into their rookie seasons in the NBA, this is your reference guide.

And with this issue dropping while the NBA playoffs are in full swing, of course the pros are still very well-represented. Lamar Odom gives Dime’s Austin Burton an exclusive Q&A about defending the L.A. Lakers’ championship while living and thriving in the Hollywood celebrity shark tank. (Put it this way: This was the first-ever Dime photo shoot where US Weekly also sent a camera crew.) Birdman Andersen shows off his ink; we check in with Memphis stars Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph; Milwaukee defensive stopper Luc Mbah a Moute gives a “How-To” on guarding the likes of Kobe, LeBron, Kevin Durant and Brandon Roy; plus we have a recap some of the best individual performances of the NBA season, a look at some of the world’s hottest sneaker boutiques, our summer music preview, and more.

Dime #57 hits newsstands nationwide this week.

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