NEXT No. 3: John Wall
Expectations? Kentucky's Chosen One says bring 'em on
This story appears in the Dec. 14 issue of ESPN The Magazine.Dan Monick for ESPN The Magazine
It feels like a revival, minus the tambourines. But the institution of Kentucky basketball isn't some storefront church; it's a cathedral. So when the Wildcat faithful dubbed 6'4", 195-pound freshman guard John Wall a program savior, we did like any good skeptics would and looked for signs.Seek and ye shall find: Wall has the blurry quicks of Derrick Rose, the fierce slashing of Dwyane Wade and the hops of, well ... just search "Jerry Stackhouse and John Wall" on YouTube and see for thine own self. The country's top-ranked prep point guard, Wall -- from Word of God Academy (N.C.) -- averaged 22.1 points, 5.5 assists, 5.2 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game as a senior. And despite an eligibility scare this fall, he has the denizens of Lexington believing that only divine intervention (or the NBA's age minimum) can hold him back. Forgive them, then, if they get a hair blasphemous with the nicknames he says they've given him: "The Messiah's Son" and "God" make "The Great Wall of Kentucky" seem quaint. Here at The Mag, we like the sound of "NEXT" ... which is hardly a new hymn for Wall. We chatted with him about some of his biggest firsts.
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Together they weigh 975 pounds and stand nearly 31 feet tall. They've claimed dozens of awards and banked millions of dollars (well, except for the college freshman). They've teed up highlights and appeared more than 150 million times on Google. And, crazy as it sounds, they're just getting started. That's why ESPN The Magazine has named the following five athletes NEXT finalists.