Despite only playing for one season, John Wall is one of the most celebrated players in Kentucky basketball history. He was the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year for 2009-10, a consensus choice for First Team All-American, and he was the No. 1 pick in the 2010 Draft. But it almost didn’t happen, and the Kentucky program can thank the termination of coach Billy Gillispie, and the ensuing hire of John Calipari, for avoiding an existence where John Wall didn’t play his lone year of college ball in Kentucky blues.
There have been rumors about this circulating for years, but Wall finally copped to what happened — tip of the cap to CBS Sports for bringing this to our attention — during an appearance on “Hey Kentucky!” with host Matt Jones.
Leading up to the 2009-10 college season, many college basketball watchers believed — rightfully, it turns out — that Wall would play basketball wherever out-of-work coach John Calipari landed. But during his recruiting visit to Kentucky, Wall earned the ire of then-coach Gillispie when his cellphone went off during a practice he was watching. BCG booted John from the gym, a not-so-subtle dig at the as-yet-uncommitted recruit.
Walla conceded the story is true, and when he was asked what he thought after he was kicked out of the gym, Wall told Matt Jones, “Oh, I would never play for this man.”
There you have it. The Wildcats parted ways with Gillispie in the summer of 2009 and hired Calipari. Wall joined fellow freshman, DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Bledsoe to help the Wildcats to a 19-0 start and a final 32-2 record that had them ranked No. 1 in the ESPN/coaches poll and the Associated Press.
They were beaten in the Elite Eight by West Virginia during the NCAA Tournament that March.
(Via CBS Sports)