John Wall: Is He as Good as People Say?

Alex PetersonContributor IIIFebruary 23, 2010

LEXINGTON, KY - FEBRUARY 13:  John Wall #11 of the Kentucky Wilcats shoots the ball during the SEC game against the Tennessee Volunteers on February 13, 2010 at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

John Wall is considered by many to be the best player the nation has to offer.

He has all the athletic and pure ability needed to be a great college and professional basketball player—great strength, speed, jumping ability, and length for a point guard. He possesses outstanding driving ability, a transition game that is virtually unstoppable, and a smooth mid-range jump shot.

He has all the necessary attributes to be a great player down the road in his career, but is he secretly overrated right now?

If you just consider his stats so far this year, he is averaging 16.8 points per game, 6.3 assists per game, and four rebounds per game.

These are very solid stats, especially for a freshman, but I don't know if you can consider a player with these kinds of statistics a Player of the Year candidate.

I know there is a lot more than just statistics when considering picking a player for this honor, but if you look at some of his counterparts for the award, they have far superior numbers.

Take Evan Turner, who has been averaging 19.5 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 5.8 assists per game on the season.

Even players that aren't under consideration (such as Luke Harangody, who had averaged 24 points and 10 rebounds per game before his recent injury, and Devan Downey from South Carolina, who has been averaging 23 points, 3.5 assists, and three steals) are averaging better numbers than Wall.

Numbers aren't everything when it comes to determining the winner of the Wooden Award, but it definitely makes an impact if you have outstanding numbers—something Wall does not have.

Another thing to consider when looking at John Wall is his play in-conference compared to his out-of-conference schedule.

Kentucky had almost no quality out-of-conference games looking back at their schedule. Their biggest challenge was a game at home against Louisville. This is when Wall played his best, putting up huge numbers against teams like Austin Peay, Long Beach State, Sam Houston State, and Rider.

He had monstrous assists numbers and huge scoring games when he faced off against these lesser teams. When Wall had a big game against North Carolina—which we all thought meant something at the time—he was able to grab the attention of the nation and became a national icon.

However, what people failed to notice is that his numbers have fallen significantly since entering SEC play. His field goal percentage has dropped from an impressive 56 percent near the end of conference play to around 47 percent, a solid mark no doubt, but not national Player of the Year caliber. 

His assist numbers have also fallen in conference play to around 5.3 a game and his turnover numbers have risen. His assist-to-turnover ratio is a below-average 1.27 when playing in conference.

Wall is now playing against some solid competition. He can't have those 16 assist, one turnover nights he was having against teams like Hartford, which padded his statistics. His out-of-conference assist-to-turnover ratio is a solid 1.9, and his assist-per-game rate is almost 8.

Wall was a beast out-of-conference, but when he started playing against some tougher teams from the SEC, his numbers and his play fell off significantly. Should Wall really be talked about as the best player in the nation?

I would have to say no.

Recently, John hasn't even been the best player on his own team, much less in the entire country. Demarcus Cousins has absolutely dominated as of late and is quickly becoming one of the best big men in the country.

Cousins has a double-double in eight of his last 10 games in which he has dominated scoring, the boards, or both in all of those games. He is a force inside, both on the offensive and defensive end.

Now, I pose the question again: Is John Wall really one of the best players in the country or has he been overrated with all the publicity and praise he has gotten over the past year?

I believe he isn't as good as the media makes him look. And even though he is an outstanding talent, a good college basketball player, and an outstanding young man, he isn't a top college basketball player in the nation right now. 

John Wall is a very good basketball player, but not among the levels of the elite—no matter how much publicity this guy gets.