The North Carolina’s men’s basketball team’s season could have ended on a higher note in 2010 with the help of one highly touted prospect.
Washington Wizards guard John Wall had North Carolina on his short list of target schools during his high school career at Word of God Christian Academy in Raleigh, before eventually picking Kentucky. Still, Wall made it clear that playing in his home state had been a dream of his in a recent interview with the "ALL THE SMOKE" podcast.
Wall went into detail about his interest in North Carolina and why he decided to spend his lone college season in Lexington over Chapel Hill.
“Ty Lawson was killing,” Wall said. “I loved watching him play. But then I also got to see Derrick Rose play at Memphis. I’m like ‘I gotta play for coach (John Calipari) but I gotta stay home.'”
Wall recalled the moment on a recruiting visit to UNC when he changed his mind about attending North Carolina.
“They were like ‘We’ll give you an offer if you commit on the spot,’” Wall said. “I was like ‘I’m not committing on the spot’ and they were like ‘well we’re not going to offer you.’”
After this conversation, Wall remembered thinking to himself “I’m never going to Carolina now.”
Wall chose to attend Kentucky for the 2009-10 season, teaming up with DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe and Patrick Patterson in a stacked recruiting class for the Wildcats. Kentucky finished the season with a 35-3 record and an Elite Eight appearance.
The Tar Heels season ended on a vastly different note, finishing 10th in the ACC, and entered the National Invitation Tournament with a 17-16 record before bowing out in the final against Dayton.
It was a deflating season for a team that won the national championship the year prior, but the loss of Tyler Hansbrough, Wayne Ellington, Danny Green and Ty Lawson to the NBA did not help.
Larry Drew II was North Carolina's starting point guard in 2010, with first-year Dexter Strickland backing him up off the bench. Though Drew II was on the 2009 championship team, Wall was ranked No. 2 in his recruiting class by 247 Sports and ended up being the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NBA draft, so it's likely that Wall would have taken the starting job.
He would have had a supporting cast of sophomores Ed Davis and Tyler Zeller, first-year John Henson and senior Deon Thompson, among others. Thompson was the leading scorer that season while Zeller and Henson became first-round draft picks in 2012.
Henson and Zeller's development as players would have looked much different with Wall. Both players improved once Kendall Marshall took over at point guard in the 2010-11 season, but playing with Wall could have sped up the process.
Wall's game was similar to Lawson's and Coby White's with his fast-pace play, which would have fit well in Roy Williams' offense. Wall also led the Wildcats in both points and assists while in Lexington. Wall was also a stellar defender, and having an asset like him on both sides of the ball tends to set the tone for the rest of the team, especially at the college level.
While it will never be known how well UNC could have played in 2010 if they signed Wall, knowing the player he became inevitably begs the question: what if?
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