At 25, John Wall remains a young man, chronologically speaking. Yet in terms of the NBA, the Washington Wizards point guard is no longer a kid. The first pick in the 2010 draft is now entering his sixth season. Growing up isn't just about the passage of time, but revealing maturity. That's why he's in the process of taking on more responsibility well before the upcoming campaign.
Speaking with CSNwashington.com Saturday, Wall revealed he organized a minicamp for his teammates that begins Sunday in Los Angeles. He expects the group together through Wednesday.
"All the guys are going to come out," Wall stated.
His organizational skills don't stop there. The two-time All-Star also said he's encouraging players to arrive "two weeks early" for the team's official training camp next month.
"Now is my time," Wall explained. "I’m setting up all these things. Making sure guys are getting to training camp two weeks early. Make sure we’re playing pickup, getting into shape, doing those types of things. That’s what I’m willing to do and have some fun with it."
Wall returned to the area after spending a few days earlier this week in Las Vegas for a USA Basketball summit one year ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympics. He spent a chunk of Saturday at the FBR Branch of the Boys & Girls Club in Washington for the John Wall Family Foundation's second annual Back 2 School #2SQUAD.
Though his offseason began nursing his fractured left wrist, Wall copped to a "Heck of a summer" with more to come. (He reminded the reporter his 25th birthday is Sept. 6.). Most of all, Wall said he dedicated plenty of time simply to getting ready physically for the NBA grind.
"Just trying to get my body all the way healthy," Wall said. "Doing a lot of my stuff to get my legs stronger. Just preparing myself to take on a bigger role. I think going into my sixth year, this is the time to really take the biggest leap."
He and Bradley Beal form one of the league's top backcourts. Though the Wizards added some key perimeter pieces and have the makings of a deep roster, they'll ultimately go as far as their starting guards and Team USA hopefuls take them. The last two seasons that meant the Eastern Conference semifinals after the franchise missed the playoffs five straight years.
"Going into a season healthy, that’s the biggest key for me. I think the only time I was really healthy was my rookie year and the lockout year. I understand what it takes to take care of my body. My chef has been with me in the summer. Just trying to enjoy myself, but work on my game and get better every day," Wall said.
Other nuggets from Wall:
* There wasn't a roll call to confirm if indeed the other 14 players were indeed headed to Los Angeles, but during the conversation Wall inferred Drew Gooden, Kris Humphries and Nene are expected.
* Southern California native Jared Dudley, who is recovering from back surgery, certainly won't be playing even if he shows up. However it sounds like the Wizards will have other big men shooting from deep. Wall said he's heard that the big Brazilian has been working on his 3-point shot. CSNwashington.com learned from another source that Humphries is also putting in extra work this summer from beyond the arc.
* Wall also expects some of the coaching staff will show in Los Angeles, including player development assistant David Adkins.
* He declared his left wrist "perfectly fine now." Wall injured his hand and wrist on May 3 in Game 1 of the playoff series with Atlanta, missed the next three games and then returned for the final two. No surgery was required. Though he admitted to some "weak points at times," Wall said he could now dunk and handle all the standard point guard duties.
* As for USA Basketball, Wall said he appreciated the opportunity to remain part of the working roster. He recognizes the challenge with making the 2016 roster considering how many stars are contending for 12 spots. There's also the lingering disappointment after being cut last year before the 2014 World Cup. "Going into this year, it’s an opportunity," Wall said of Team USA, "but my main goal is focusing on the Washington Wizards." More on this later on CSNwashington.com.