John Calipari invites John Wall back to Kentucky in case of a lockout

John Wall hasn’t made a final decision about returning to Kentucky to take summer school courses, but his former coach, John Calipari, has already extended an invitation for the Wizards point guard to work out in Lexington if the league, as expected, has a lockout.


Come on back to Lexington, John. (Rogelio V. Solis/AP)

Wall finished out his studies after his only season at Kentucky and was a member of the Southeastern Conference freshman academic honor roll. Calipari added that if Wall were to re-enroll at Kentucky — which one of Wall’s representatives, Dwon Clifton, said on Thursday was unlikely but “still a possibility” — he could practice with the Wildcats as well to stay in basketball shape.

“He can be on the court with us. He can be a student assistant going back to school, you can put him on the court. I’m going to invite all of our guys, John, [Bulls guard and District native Keith] Bogans,” he said after watching Rose score 25 points and dish out 10 assists to lead the Bulls to an 86-73 win over the Atlanta Hawks in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinal. “I even said to Derrick, you didn’t go there, but if you want, you can come down. But hopefully, there isn’t a long stoppage, but if there is, I want to make sure our guys know they can come back with us.”

Calipari said he had lunch with Wall in North Carolina shortly after the Wizards season ended to discuss his rookie campaign. Although Wall wasn’t able to follow Rose and Tyreke Evans to become the third consecutive point guard to spend one year player for Calipari and winning rookie of the year, Calipari said, “He was tremendous.”

“He’s got to know the steps Derrick took — a lot of it was shooting — because right now, they running to the rim on John, they are going under pick and rolls. They are jamming up the other players off his man,” Calipari said. “But when he starts making that knock down jumper, a totally different game. It doesn’t have to be from one year. Derrick did it in progression. He went from very little threes to just a few more to [128] threes in three years. Just make that progression and it doesn’t happen overnight. Sometimes, it comes back and hits you in the face.”

Wall averaged 16.4 points, 8.3 assists and 4.6 rebounds in his first season, but the Wizards finished 23-59. “It was hard,” Calipari said. “He didn’t have as good a team as Derrick had here. What I knew would affect Derrick was losing. And if he wasn’t playing well, he’s harder on himself than anybody could be. John’s issue would be keeping the emotions in check when things aren’t going right. That’s all been tough for him.”

Michael Lee is the national basketball writer for The Washington Post.

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