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Wizards select Kentucky’s Wall with No. 1 pick

Associated Press

John Wall is ready to go to Washington and clean up the Wizards. And he'll have more backcourt help when he gets there -- whether or not Gilbert Arenas is still around.

NEW YORK—John Wall is heading to Washington, and a record number of Kentucky teammates are following him to the NBA.

Wall went to the Wizards with the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft Thursday and four more Wildcats were among the top 30 selections, making them the first school ever to put five players in the first round.

After falling short of the Final Four even with all that talent around him, Wall is ready to help Washington bounce back from a season that was embarrassing on the court and in the locker room.

“I feel like I had pressure since I became No. 1 in high school and was one of the top players,” Wall said. “I always got there hungry wanting to fight hard and compete in every game, so when I step on the court I’m going to take on any challenge there.”

The SEC player of the year is the first Kentucky player chosen first overall. He goes to a team still reeling from Gilbert Arenas season-ending suspension for bringing guns into the team locker room.

Wall could replace Arenas as the Wizards’ point guard, or perhaps play alongside him in a potential high-scoring backcourt. He’ll try to become the third straight freshman point guard to win Rookie of the Year honors after Chicago’s Derrick Rose and Sacramento’s Tyreke Evans—who like Wall also played for John Calipari.

The pick came shortly after a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press that the Chicago Bulls had agreed to trade veteran guard Kirk Hinrich and the 17th pick in the draft, Kevin Seraphin, to the Wizards. Hinrich is a solid veteran defensive guard who could help with Wall’s transition to the NBA.

After his name was announced to begin the draft, Wall hugged family members and donned a blue Wizards cap before climbing onto the stage to shake commissioner David Stern’s hand.

Predicted to finish in the top half of the Eastern Conference last season, the Wizards’ season quickly spiraled out of control, reaching its low point on New Year’s Day when news broke of the altercation involving guns between Arenas and fellow guard Javaris Crittenton, who also was suspended for the year. Washington eventually traded fellow stars Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler in a dismal 26-56 finish.

Arenas is eligible to return, but Wall is ready to take charge of the team.

“I was always a leader by example being the first in the gym and the last in the gym,” Wall said. “But I’m a leader that doesn’t mind speaking up to the older guys.”

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Wizards select Wall at No. 110.0101

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