AP photo by Bill Kostroun|
Georgetown point guard Jonathan Wallace is a Sparkman High graduate and says he wants to own cattle and land one day. Georgetown plays Ohio State in the Final Four on Saturday.
No taxi ride to Final 4
Sparkman grad prefers
cow bells, 3-pointers
By Joseph White
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON — Alabama country boy Jonathan Wallace has been studying and playing basketball in the nation's capital for three years, yet he's still afraid of taxis.
"Taxis are dangerous," the Georgetown point guard said. "You don't know who's driving. I like driving my own car, or I like riding with my mom or my dad or aunt, somebody I know. If I don't know you, I'm not going to get in the car with you."
Ask him to choose between cattle and cabs, and, well, that's a no-brainer.
"I want cows," Sparkman High grad Wallace said with a smile. "I want cows and land one day."
Fortunately for Georgetown, Wallace does not carry his trepidation over city life onto the basketball court. He might be antsy about taking a taxi, but he had no hesitation when he took the game-tying 3-pointer with 31 seconds remaining that sent the game into overtime in Sunday's victory over North Carolina, a win that put the Hoyas in the Final Four.
"You win with people like Jon Wallace," coach John Thompson III said. "You look at him, he's not the fastest person in the world, he's not the strongest person, never will be. But he has character, he has guts, and he's a good man. He's willed his way through so many situations and is someone who has gotten the most of his God-given ability.
"That shot he made the other day was on the national stage and a lot of people across the country saw it, but he's been making those shots for three years now."
Of all the players who have contributed to Georgetown's run to the Final Four, Wallace took the most roundabout path. He grew up a bright kid on an 80-acre cattle farm in Harvest and had planned to play for Thompson in the Ivy League at Princeton. When Thompson took the job at Georgetown, Wallace wanted to follow.
But he had to do it as a walk-on.
"I told him, 'You're never going to play,' " Thompson said. "And he started from the moment he walked in the door."
Wallace started every game as a freshman and was clearly rankled by his walk-on status, but the feelings ebbed once the coach gave him a scholarship the following year.
"He's a guy that I trust," Wallace said. "And he told me to stick with it, and I did, and everything turned out well."
Wallace's other big adjustment was the city. He never had lived where there were so many people, and he remains very much a homebody.
"It's a lot of things I don't do that the other guys tend to do a lot, as far as going to the mall and so forth on the subway," Wallace said. "I usually stay in the room and wait for them to come back because I'm not too comfortable with that stuff. It's not me."
Wallace often spoke about the farm to his teammates, and how he didn't have many friends growing up. The summer after their freshman year, Jeff Green and Tyler Crawford decided they had to see the place for themselves, so they went down for an eye-opening visit. To this day, there is debate over whether Green and Crawford were afraid of the cows.
"I'm from the country, in a way," said Crawford, who is from Staunton, Va., in the Shenandoah Valley. "But Jon is officially from the country.
"Going down to the farm, you can really see how Jon got to be disciplined as a point guard," Crawford added. "His whole lifestyle down there, having to feed the cows and stay disciplined and stay in his own routine. It kind of translates out here on the court."
This week, the quiet of farm life is about as distant as it's ever been for Wallace. He said he sees his game-tying basket "pretty much every time" he turns on the television. Still, he said it was just a routine shot in the offense, coming off a pass from Jessie Sapp.
"Once Jessie found me, I stepped into my shot and it was pretty much good from there," Wallace said.
Georgetown's Final Four opponent, Ohio State, no doubt has taken note of Wallace's play, but the Buckeyes — like every other team the Hoyas have faced — already will have their hands full trying to figure out how to stop Big East player of the year Green and 7-foot-2 center Roy Hibbert.
"If teams are going to sit there and pay so much attention to Jeff and Roy, and I'm able to step up and take an open shot, I'm going to take it," Wallace said. "And hopefully make it."
Both games on WHNT-19
Georgetown vs. Ohio State, 5:07 p.m.
Florida vs. UCLA, 7:47 p.m.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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