John Wall’s first appearance around these parts nearly two years ago saw him give Jerry Stackhouse his most relevant basketball moment in years at the North Carolina Pro-Am. Life always has a way of coming full circle and the 2010 #1 overall pick found himself in the same event, only this time against Julius Hodge (#12 in picture above). Yes, the same Julius Hodge who was once a standout at North Carolina State, shot his rookie season in the NBA and hasn’t played in the league in over four years.
The story goes that upon finding out Wall would be hooping in the Pro-Am, Hodge let it be known to everyone he wanted a piece of the Wizards point guard. As luck would have it just like it does on the playground, Julius’ wish was granted as he found himself squared up against John on several occasions. Before going any further, it has to be said that Hodge scored a game-high 20 to his pro counterpart’s 12. Yet, it was Wall’s 12 that had the entire crowd buzzing and Julius more turned around than a New York City tourist thanks in part to this style of game highlighting Wall’s most obvious strength, running in the open floor. The last crossover was so real I halfway expected the And 1 guy to come running from the stands with the megaphone yelling “OH BABY!”
Wall’s team ended up winning 73-71 after he drew a foul on Hodge to hit the game winning free throws with 0.9 seconds remaining. Still, Hodge more than held his own, admittedly not against the highest level of competition, and plans join the alleged mass exodus and play in Europe next year. As for Johnny boy, I just hope he returns from the lockout with an improved jumpshot. There’s a nice nucleus of players, including two quality draft picks from this year’s draft, and movable assets sitting in the nation’s capitol at his disposal.
Bonus: For those interesting in seeing Doc Rivers’ son and extremely publicized Duke recruit, Austin, check out the footage below from his Pro-Am debut. I hate the Blue Devils more than I hate a slow internet connection, but this kid and Quinn Cook are going to result in plenty of highlights in Durham. UNC/Duke, mark your calendars.