John Wall could turn NBA lockout into a class act


Washington Wizards basketball player John Wall is considering going back to school if the NBA lockout continues. (Evan Vucci/AP)

Do it, John Wall. Don’t let yourself be lured by offers from European leagues. Don’t fall victim to the fantasy of nonstop Xbox. Don’t waste the time given you by the NBA lockout. Do it, John. Go back to college.

Wall told the Associated Press he was considering continuing his education at Kentucky if the lockout isn’t settled soon. No one in Wall’s family has ever gotten a college degree, although his sister is a sophomore and might beat him to it. So he would be the second person in his family to graduate college. That’s still impressive.

It’s even more impressive when you don’t have to do it. Wall will make a lot of money in his NBA career, which has only just begun. Barring rash investments or spendthrift living, he should be able to live comfortably on the proceeds without having to work again.

Wall wants to study business management, which is a great idea for a guy who was a millionaire before he was 20. If you’re going to have a pile of money, you should have some notion of what to do with it. A degree might help protect him from being ripped off or from blowing through his stash before his career is over.

More importantly, Wall’s return to campus would speak volumes about the value of education to a group that may not get it: the players who are leaving college after one year to enter the NBA draft, particularly those who are leaving Kentucky after one year.

Wall completed two semesters of classes and two summers’ worth of classes in his one season with the Wildcats. His grades must have been good; he was named to the freshman academic honor roll.

According to Michael Lee, Celtics guard Rajon Rondo and Sixers guard Jodie Meeks are considering using the lockout time to pursue their studies, as are Eric Bledsoe and DeMarcus Cousins, who both left Kentucky early, like Wall.

Many players vow they’ll finish their coursework in the offseason. Wall’s summers are pretty open right now. For players such as Rondo, whose teams go deep in the playoffs, that window of opportunity narrows considerably, and Wall hopes one day soon his summer schedule will tighten up as well. If it does, that cuts down on his opportunity to take courses.

The grind of a long season also makes it harder for players to give up their offseason and return to the classroom. Nats reliever Drew Storen took classes at Stanford this winter and told me this spring that it was incredibly hard for him, harder than his rookie season had been. He hadn’t realized how worn out he would be.

Wall makes no secret of the fact that he misses Lexington. He was used to playing in packed arenas, full of rabid fans. That hasn’t been his NBA experience thus far. The Wizards will have to improve exponentially before it is. But if Wall wanted that atmosphere, he could have stayed in Lexington three more seasons. That was the price he paid for going pro.

Now, he has an opportunity to give back, to send a message to kids of all ages that a college degree is something to strive for. He also has an opportunity to use his money and his free time for something worthwhile to John Wall.

So do it, John Wall. Pursue that degree. Race your sister to the finish. Even if she beats you, you’ll both still win.

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