Well that was something wasnt it? On a day that started slowly and had me thinking that the only thing worth talking about all evening would be the McDonalds All American Game, the afternoon hit and Kentucky news flew left and right. From about 5 pm to 9 pm, all I did was work the phones and chase down stories that on their surface seemed to be longshots, or simply false. But then as the night went on and more information was gathered, the truth was at times stranger than fiction. Within 20 minutes this afternoon, I was told four “rumors” about the program and by the end of the night, we learned a lot about each. Here they are:
The first and most important story came about Daniel Orton, who I was told would be leaving Lexington this week to go train for the NBA Draft, which he was going to enter. Further, I was told that if Orton left, it could have an effect on the team’s scholarship situation and might even cause UK to lose a scholarship. Thus the staff was trying to get him to finish the semester. That is what I was told. Then the news sort of took off on its own. First, Jerry Tipton interviewed Orton’s father, who told him that he was leaving for the Draft. Orton then released a statement in which he said he was not leaving and had not made a decision. Very soon after, Larry Vaught published a story with quotes from Orton’s dad in which he said he was not only leaving, but would be leaving Lexington this weekend, thus seemingly verifying the original story I was told. And then the evening ended with a tweet from Daniel Orton himself that said this:
I would like for anyone to disregard anything that you might have heard my father say he was taken the wrong way in his interview.
So there you go. Confused yet? I dont really understand what Orton is referring to when he says his father was taken the wrong way. If he is talking about Orton’s comments that he was entering the draft, dropping out of school and moving to California, that would appear to me to be pretty cut and dry. My assumption is that Daniel believes his father was taken the wrong way on the Cousins quote and my guess is that is true. Larry Orton is a good guy and I dont believe he meant to insinuate that his son was better than Cousins or to demean Demarcus in promoting his son. So I think people should give the Ortons a break on that quote and move on.
As for the real issue of whether Daniel will be at UK next year, regardless of his comments, all signs point to him heading into the Draft. Orton’s dad mentioned that the decision was made two days ago and that he would be dropping classes and moving to California. At no time has UK or Daniel said that those two facts arent true. If he drops classes and leaves, it is hard to imagine he could stay eligible and play at Kentucky next year. So either Mr. Orton doesnt know Daniel’s plans or they have changed or who the heck knows. Bottom line…if we see Daniel in Lexington next week, then he may genuinely still be deciding. If he isnt and is training in California, it is hard to see how he could be here next year.
The second tidbit told to me was that Darnell Dodson would not be on the team next season. I looked into this for some time and cant get total confirmation, but all signs seemed to point to this being accurate. Then tonight, DraftExpress.com said that Demarcus Cousins told people in Columbus that Dodson was going to the NBA as well and that only four returning players would be on the UK roster. Now I have no idea if Cousins said any of this and my guess is that he probably didnt and if he did, he CERTAINLY didnt mean to be quoted. But the national media ran with it and now it is out.
Bottom line…I would be surprised to see Darnell Dodson on the team next season. I dont have total confirmation on it, but all signs point to a parting of ways taking place. I do not believe the actual reason is due to a decision to declare for the NBA Draft, regardless of what is said. I think it is more likely an internal team issue and if Dodson is not on the team next season (and at this point it is still an “if”), that is the reason why.
The third one was easy. I was told that Hood was “50-50” on transferring after the semester ended. Whether that was true or not, WKYT called Hood’s parents today and his father says Jon is staying at Kentucky. So that seems to take care of that.
Ok so that was a lot of negative news. How about some positive news. From a source that I trust, I am told that UK will recruit Shelby Valley’s Elisha Justice as a walk-on and are even strongly considering offering him a scholarship for next season due to the strong likelihood that all 13 roster spots will be filled. The source tells me that the staff was impressed with his performance this Spring and like the idea of having a kid who can play hard in practice and can be a PG for practice, something they didnt really have on the second team this year. Dustin tried to contact Elisha tonight and was unsuccessful, so we have gotten no word from the kid whether UK has actually contacted him or what his interest might be. But I do believe UK either already has or will soon reach out to him to try to make the Eastern Kentuckian a Cat.
So there you go….there was also the McDonalds Game and some updates on recruits, but we will deal with that tomorrow. For now, it was one of the craziest nights of story chasing not just for me, but for all the Kentucky mainstream media types as everyone tried to process one of the crazier roster situations ever. Stay tuned, its not over yet…..