- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 29, 2010

FAIRFAX, Va. | Wizards rookie John Wall is learning to walk the fine line between establishing himself as vocal leader and knowing his place in the veteran pecking order.

He is also trying to establish chemistry with backcourt mate Gilbert Arenas.

On second day of training camp, Wall and Arenas sometimes played on the same team during scrimmages, but they also guarded each during pick and roll defensive drills.

“When we run against each other in drills, we try to make each other better, but we are on the same team.” Wall said. “We’re trying to do the best thing possible to help us win.”

Wall, a 6-foot-4 guard, said that he is already benefiting from Arenas‘ experience, particularly when it comes to finding ways to score.

Gilbert “says it’s going to be a little easier to score,” Wall said. “They can’t handcheck you. You can get past people. There is a lot of stuff I’m learning from him.”

Wall’s fellow first-round pick Trevor Booker said the Wall-Arenas pairing duo will be formidable.

John is a slasher, Gil is a shooter,” Booker said. “I think they’ll do pretty good.”

Even as he learns from Arenas, and the other veterans and coaches, the youngest player on the roster is quickly establishing his voice as the one to hear.

“They’re going to have trust me cause I am going to have the ball in my hands a lot,” Wall said. “If the game is close, I want them to be able to know that they can trust I can get the ball to the right people and make certain plays for them. So you have to be a leader from day one.”

Wall added that he is not trying to make a statement with his leadership style, but that in some cases, words can speak louder than actions.

“I’m still going to listen to the veterans as much as I can,” he said. “Listen to the coach. I’m still learning. At the same time, trying to lead by example, not just by doing drills, but by speaking up and getting everybody in the right places for the plays.”

Coach Flip Saunders is impressed with Wall’s take charge approach. He said the rookie’s maturity is “really beyond his years.”

“I haven’t had anyone as young as he is, as vocal as he is,” Saunders said. “His understanding, he’s similar to (Kevin) Garnett in that he knows where everyone is supposed to be on every play. When you have a point guard that can tell everyone where to be and where to go, that brings a whole different balance to your team.”

Wall also doesn’t have a problem with carrying out rookie duties.

He was asked what he thought of Dallas Cowboys first-round pick Dez Bryant, who this week picked up a $54,896 dinner tab after refusing to go through certain rookie hazing rituals — specifically carrying equipment for veteran players.

“I would have carried the shoulder pads,” Wall said. “That’s what I would have did. I know he’s upset right now, but you got to do your rookie duties.”

Wall said the veterans have let him off the hook for the most part, letting him adjust to his first professional training camp, though he anticipates “more stuff is going to start coming.”

“I don’t mind doing it,” Wall added. “I’m going to do whatever so I don’t have to pay them.”

Notes: One day after Michigan State coach Tom Izzo was in attendance, the Wizards were visited by another Big 10 coach, Tubby Smith. The current University of Minnesota head coach won a National Championship as the head coach for the 1998 Kentucky Wildcats.

 

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