In the summer of 2007, an unknown, unranked high school basketball player named John Wall drove over 865 miles from his home town of Raleigh, N.C. to Chicago to participate in the Reebok Basketball Challenge. Wall’s performance at the event grabbed people’s attention. Afterwards, he remained in the spotlight on his way to becoming the top-ranked player in his high school class, SEC Player of the Year at the University of Kentucky and the number one overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.
What’s unique about the Reebok Challenge is that everyone has a chance, not just those who have been noticed by recruiters. Participants do not receive exclusive invites. Each player must work his way up to earn a spot, beginning at the Headliner Try Outs, which are held in various locations around the country in late May and June.
This year, Wall will again attend the Challenge, this time to encourage the players and select top performers for a training retreat later in the summer. In an exclusive interview with STACK, Wall said, “I am humbled to be able to give back to players who deserve it and truly want to earn their way.”
Wall credits the Breakout Challenge as the turning point of his career—“the first major step” on his path to the pros. He didn’t plan on making a splash, and he made his success sound simple. “I was nervous going into it,” he recalled. “I had a Mohawk…I was late to the first bus of camp. [But] I got ahold of the ball [and] made a few plays.”
Success in sports is often simple—as simple as taking advantage of an opportunity.
Wall plans to work hard this summer to pursue his goal of helping the Washington Wizards make the playoffs next season. Last year, he told STACK he was concentrating on explosive ways to pull up. This year he is concentrating on his jump shot, his ball-handling and executing the pick-and roll. He’ll soon be heading to Los Angeles to work out at Impact Basketball with Joe Abunassar, whose previous clients include Chauncey Billups and Kevin Garnett.
For more info on the Reebok Breakout Challenge Headliner Try Outs, head to reebokbreakout.com. For video with Wall, head over to STACK TV.