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Turner, Wall already in tight competition


Posted May 20 2010 6:26PM

CHICAGO (AP) -- Already, John Wall is thinking about the possibilities.

He can envision looking toward the home crowd and seeing President Barack Obama in the stands, cheering him on as he tries to resurrect the Washington Wizards.

"That would be big time," he said.

That would also describe the task at hand if he winds up in Washington, where the Wizards are coming off a brutal 26-56 season that included the death of longtime owner Abe Pollin and Gilbert Arenas' suspension for bringing guns into the Verizon Center locker room.

They finally got some good news on Tuesday when they won the draft lottery, and now, they have a decision to make.

Do they take Wall, the dynamic freshman point guard from Kentucky or Evan Turner, the national player of the year for Ohio State? Or someone else?

The NBA draft is June 24, and while Wall appears to be the front-runner, Turner isn't conceding. Whoever doesn't get picked by Washington, could wind up with Philadelphia at No. 2.

"That's a goal for everybody growing up as a kid," Turner said. "You want to be the one picked. If it doesn't happen that way, I'm going to be cool with it. As long as I get to play in the NBA, that's my dream come true."

The same goes for Wall. The two figure to have some explosive matchups when they meet in the NBA, though the competition playing out at the moment is pretty intense, too.

"I think they could choose between two really good players," Turner said Thursday at the NBA draft combine. "John's a great player, he's young, he's smart, he's a nice guy."

Wall was a highlight reel staple last season while leading Kentucky to a 35-3 record, the SEC regular-season and conference tournament titles and the NCAA regional finals in its first season under coach John Calipari. The 6-foot-4 guard averaged 16.6 points and 6.5 assists per game and was SEC player of the year.

Now, he has a chance to be taken with the No.1 pick after one year in college, just like another spectacular point guard who played for Calipari -- All-Star Derrick Rose, who went to the Bulls in 2008 after a year at Memphis.

If Wall doesn't go to Washington?

"I won't really be too surprised," Wall said. "A lot of people say I should be the pick. That's what I feel for myself. I work hard all year, and I'm going to keep working hard. It's whatever the organization needs for their team at that time."

Wall talked with Rose and LeBron James during the season, hoping to pick the brains of two players who were heavily hyped entering the NBA.

He said Rose told him, "You've got to work hard. You can't let it get to you. They're going to say certain things. Some of it's going to be positive, some of it's going to be negative. Whatever's negative, you've just got to deal with it."

If the Wizards go with the 6-foot-7 Turner, they would be getting a player who missed 4 1/2 weeks with broken bones in his back, yet wound up leading Ohio State to one of its best seasons.

The Chicago native averaged 20.4 points, 9.2 rebounds and 6 assists while shooting 52 percent from the field as a junior after being moved to point guard. Ohio State posted the second-most wins in school history while going 29-8, capturing a share of the Big Ten title, winning the conference tournament championship and reaching the NCAA's round of 16 before falling to Tennessee.

Turner will work out with the Wizards, and he believes his versatility could sway them. After all, he made a smooth transition to the point after a decision by coach Thad Matta that raised a few eyebrows since he was prone to mistakes with the ball and had never played the position. Turner doesn't care which guard position he plays in the NBA.

"I don't think it matters at all," Turner said. "As long as I'm out there being able to play basketball and compete, I'll be fine."

Asked why he should be the No. 1 pick, Turner said: "I did a lot of work this year, all the adversity I came back from, my maturity level now. Not to be arrogant or cocky, I won every national player of the year award. That kind of puts a little inner confidence toward me, and I think I can help a team."

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