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Calipari started it all with Rose and Evans, Wall continued the trend


by Andrew Hardison

Editors Note: Good Morning BBN. I have to admit that I am not a big fan of recycling stories, but with the commitment of Brandon Knight and possible addition of Marquis Teague/Tony Wroten, I asked Andrew to do an article on the Calipari PG’s. He of course, had done an excellent job of breaking down Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, and John Wall earlier in the season, so we decided to take a look at what he did then (as we have added many readers) and we will follow up tonight with a look at Knight, Teague, and Wroten and how they may fit in the system. Forgive the repeat, but it’s a good read and worth re-visiting. Thanks – Paul

After just ten games in his collegiate career, freshman phenom John Wall is making quite a name for himself at the University of Kentucky.

Wall’s game-winning jumper against Miami (OH), his end-to-end fast-break dunk on UNC’s Larry Drew II, his coming-out party in NYC against UConn, and his left-handed dunk over Indiana’s Jordan Hulls will go down in history as the beginning of a new era in Kentucky basketball. The question isn’t whether he’ll succeed in college it’s which NBA team will be fortunate enough to land his services in next June’s draft?

Wall isn’t your ordinary point guard, rather extra-ordinary in that he can do things many players around the nation, let alone the NBA couldn’t do. His lightning-quick, end-to-end speed is something scouts rave about. His maturity level and understanding of the game is head and shoulders above everyone else around him his age. Simply put, Wall has the entire package of skills to make it to the next level.

What must be noted however is that Wall isn’t the first in line of successful John Calipari point guards. A forte of his recruiting plan and prowess, Calipari has coveted and found the ideal point guard to run his dribble-drive motion offense three years running, with the 2009 college basketball season acting as Wall’s center stage.

Before him were two other players that were quite talented themselves, starting in 2007 with Derrick Rose and last year in 2008 with Tyreke Evans. Before them, were high school standouts Dejuan Wagner and Darius Washington, but neither panned out as Calipari expected.

Much like Wall, neither Rose or Evans were your proto-typical point guards, rather the elite of elite hybrid-players to come out of high school ready to make an impact on the college landscape.
Rose was the first to start the trend under Calipari. The senior standout from Simeon high-school in Chicago’s South Side was already a city legend. After back-to-back Illinois State Championships, Rose cemented his name as one of the city’s best basketball players ever, a high praise due to the fact that Illinois has produced some of the nation’s top college and NBA talent through its history.

He finally decided to take his game to Memphis and utilize Calipari’s system so he could develop into an NBA point guard in only one year. Rose was certainly a one-and-done player, a new trend college basketball was seeing due to the new NBA/NCAA agreement that makes high school seniors attend college for at least a year before heading to the NBA. He possessed so many abilities that scouts drooled over, mainly because they’d never seen them on display before. That was until Rose showed up.

Much like the beginning of Wall’s ’09 season, Rose’s ’07 season got off to a flying start. At almost 30 minutes a game, Rose was pouring in 15.9 points a game, while grabbing 4.9 rebounds and dishing out 4.3 assists through his first ten games, all victories including ones over Syracuse and Georgetown. What was so spell-bounding was that these numbers usually sat next to a seasoned veteran’s name, not a true-freshman only ten games into his collegiate career.

With the help of Rose, Calipari and the Tigers would end up playing for a National Championship that year led most notably by the team’s star point guard. As the season progressed, Rose became more consistent, finding his niche within the Memphis Tigers team. Memphis had lost one game early in the year, to set up a National Championship game against Kansas that they eventually lost.

Rose may have been the first, but certainly not the last in the line of Calipari point guards over the last three seasons. The 2008 season brought heralded McDonald’s All-American guard Tyreke Evans to the forefront of the Memphis basketball program, as he was expected to fill the void left by Rose as he departed for the NBA months earlier.

Despite the recognition Evans received as a high-school senior, he didn’t quite have the same impact for the Tigers as Rose did in his freshman year. After the team’s first ten games, Evans and the Tigers sat at (7-3) with losses coming to Xavier, Georgetown, and Syracuse. For a fan base that had become accustomed to hot starts led by dynamic lead guards, the 2008 season didn’t get off to the start many had hoped for.

Even with a (7-3) record, Evans was still playing above the normal rate for a freshman player. At 24.5 minutes a game, Evans was able to put up 15.4 points a game, while grabbing 5.4 rebounds and dishing out 3.6 assists a game. Much like Rose, these early season numbers were something junior and seniors were supposed to put up, not true freshmen. What was most glaring for Evans was the way in which he played during Memphis’ three loses. In the team’s loss to Georgetown he threw up 24 shots only making 8 of them on the night, while almost fouling out. Their game against Syracuse was even uglier as Evans went 2-9 from the field, scoring only 5 points.

What was most recognizable was the eventually effectiveness Evans found when he was asked to take over point guard duties. It was unusual to have a 6’6” shooting guard take over that role, but Calipari though Evans would make a perfect fit, utilizing his size to ‘see over’ his defenders. After a loss to Syracuse on December 20th, 2008, Evans and the Tigers reeled off 27 straight victories with Evans leading the way. He too would go on to become a NBA lottery draft pick only a year later, following in the footsteps of his predecessor.

After two stellar years and having two stellar point guards run his team, John Calipari was able to pull in his third straight elite point guard, this time in the form of #1 player in the nation John Wall. Much like the players before him, Wall came into the college game with a ton of praise and a ton of hype. Many had already handed him the title of #1 NBA Draft pick in the 2010 June draft, though he had yet to even play a college basketball game. That didn’t matter in this case because of how special Wall was supposed to be.

After ten games, Wall has delivered on his hype and is receiving much more praise than what he got during the summer. He leads the Wildcats in scoring, assists, and steals and has had an indelible impact on all of Kentucky’s victories. Wall does it all and then some, making headlines left and right with his spectacular plays and high-flying dunks, but it doesn’t stop there.

The comparisons of what current players Wall resembles are always a topic of fodder. It’s fun to nit-pick back-and-forth as to who had better numbers and who did more for their team. With Wall’s ascension to the top of college basketball, the comparison once again continue. Here though, the comparisons are between Calipari’s last three guards and what they
’ve done for their teams. The first ten games are a good barometer for that success. Let’s take a look at how each performed:


Derrick Rose (Memphis Tigers/2007)-29.5 MIN, 15.9 PTS, 51-109 FG, 46% FG, 46-63 FT, 73.0% FT, 11-30 3P, 36.7% 3P, 13 O. REB, 36 D. REB, 49 Total REB, 43 AST, 12 STL, 5 BLK, 34 TO

Tyreke Evans (Memphis Tigers/2008)- 24.2 MIN, 15.4 PTS, 55-134 FG, 41% FG, 37-51 FT, 72.5% FT, 7-36 3P made, 19 % 3P, 38 D. REB, 16 O. REB, 54 Total REB, 36 AST, 25 STL, 4 BLK, 38 TO

John Wall (Kentucky Wildcats/2009)-34.8 MIN, 16.6 PTS, 54-100 FG, 54% FG, 48-61 FT, 78.7% FT, 7-19 3P, 36.8% 3P, 7 O.REB, 31 D.REB, 38 Total REB, 64 AST, 25 STL, 5 BLK, 39 TO


What should be noticed first is how drastically similar each player’s stats are. If one trumps the other in one category, they will get them in another. Take for instance minutes played per game. Wall out-averages both players in amount of time played, but Evans does a better job of rebounding than Wall with Wall having better assist numbers. Wall struggles to have the same rebounding prowess as Rose or Evans, but is able to overcome that through assist totals and field goal percentage.

If you were to take a look at field goal percentage, you’d realize that the 134 attempts Evans had at this same is 34 more than Wall has taken thus far. While it gives Wall a better percentage, it reveals that Evans was counted on much more by his team to score points, doing so in less time. This isn’t to be unexpected as Memphis lost several starters from a National Championship runner-up team in 2008, players that would have taken the scoring expectations off of Evans.

One number that is somewhat surprising is the fact that Rose had almost twenty less assists at this time in his career as Wall. A main stay in Calipari’s offense is dribble-drive penetration that allowed the point guard to kick out to open teammates. Rose certainly had plenty of those opportunities, but his lack of understanding of the offense early clues in on the lower assists totals. Wall is flourishing already averaging 6.4 a game and is able to do so with a plethora of talent helping him out.

No matter what you try to do, there won’t be any real drastic difference between the three players speaking in terms of their individual statistics. Whether it is Evans’ height advantage, Rose’s blue-collar approach at getting to the rim, or Wall’s incendiary quickness, only John Calipari can say that he’s coached all three.

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