I have been a subscriber of SLAM Magazine for a little more than a year now. When it first came out, I thought it was a little too hip-hop for me. Not that I'm not a fan of the genre--hell, hip-hop came to be during my adolescent years--I just thought the writing and the perspective weren't deep enough for my tastes. All of the articles felt like they were written by fans who were in awe of the athletes.
But like any new kid on the block, SLAM got hip to the real game and evolved under the leadership of Editor-in-Chief, Ben Osborne. The writers now seem to look for angles beyond the headlines and message boards. The perspectives are even controversial at times, but always informing.
Take the latest issue for example. In addition to talking about Brandon Jennings and Ricky Rubio being "Ready To Rock The NBA," this month's edition also features an article on highly regarded recruits John Wall and Lance Stephenson whom SLAM has deemed "Ready To Rock The NCAA."
Writer Aggrey Sam talks about how both teen phenoms came to be two of the best players at their respective positions. You can get more of his take on Wall and Stephenson on his blog, but it's really just a tease. If you want the real scoop, you will have to go out and buy the hard copy.
Here are a few excerpts, though, to really wet your thirst for more Wall knowledge. As I mentioned earlier, Wall is all about being a high draft choice after just one year in college. In the SLAM article, Wall expanded on that thought.
"I see myself in the NBA in two years (from now), playing on somebody's team, trying to lead a franchise to a championship," said Wall. "I just wanna be compared to one of the best point guards--maybe the best point guard--that ever played in the NBA."
So it's obvious that Wall will make his college choice based solely on the question of which coach (and staff) can put him on the best and fastest track to the league. That's why John Calipari and UK fans are so hopeful that Wall will decide that his road to the NBA will lead through Lexington.
I know some people have started to argue if Wall is really that good. It's nothing more than a defense mechanism from people who are worried that he will go to some other school than their respective favorites. Have you ever noticed how great some kid is when he's planning to go to your school, but as soon as he chooses another place, all of a sudden he's a bust? Funny how fast perspective can change.
The SLAM article also includes some very insightful quotes on Wall's ability.
Coach from a high-major college program: "Wall, he's a natural. He has a combination of speed, athleticism and skill that puts him in a unique class."
Brian Clifton, Wall's AAU coach with D-One Sports: "He's playing on a slightly different level than everyone around him. When you look at all his physical attributes and that he understands his job is to distribute the ball--there have been guys who have been as athletic as him, but not as tall, and guys as tall but not as athletic, and guys who have both, but they think their job is jacking up shots and lighting up the scoreboard. What makes John special is that he understands getting his teammates involved is what wins ballgames."
Regardless of what some jaded fans say, the consensus is very clear: John Wall is a rare, special talent. Or as I have been telling people since watching him practice and play in-person: The Kid can straight ball!
The only question remaining now is where will Wall take that talent next on his way to NBA stardom?