Its no secret that there will be a big turnover with the UK basketball team next season. And that is understandable. John Wall, Demarcus Cousins and Patrick Patterson are all likely lottery picks and Eric Bledsoe could very well be the #2 Point guard taken in the Draft. If they decide to leave, the decision is understandable and more power to them. But what about Daniel Orton? On the surface, Orton’s decision to go to the Draft is baffling. He averaged 3.3 points a game last season and has the lowest average points per game of any player from America that I can ever remember being considered a first round pick. Some scouts have Orton ranked as a #14-#20 player and it may be the case that he goes first round. But it is also likely that if he returned and played up to his abilities, he would be a sure fire Top 10 pick next year. So what is the hurry?
Well if you listened to the interviews of Orton’s dad, the hurry is that he and his family believe he is a lottery pick now. They say that he could go anywhere from “#1-#20”, a proposition that seems almost impossible to believe, but is believed by at least his family. While I discount some of his father’s other quotes and give he and Daniel the benefit of the doubt, what is clear is that they believe the NBA Draft is where Daniel should be and they are working to make it happen this year.
Far be it from me to say a kid shouldnt follow his dream. But if Orton decides to leave, there is a right and wrong way to handle it. Before the craziness of Wednesday night, I was told by a good source that Orton was going to enter the Draft and to get ready, was going to drop out of school and go to California to train. In so doing the source said, he put UK at risk of losing a scholarship next year as he would be the only player to not finish the semester of those leaving for the Draft, and his dropping out could move the team’s APR low enough to lose the scholarship. Orton’s intention to drop out and go to California was confirmed by his father and has not yet been denied. Thus if the original story was true, Orton’s days in Lexington this semester are over.
Now let me be clear. We dont know for certain that Daniel didnt have a change of heart and maybe he decided to follow his coach’s requests and stay on campus. I hope he did. For if Orton were to have left UK and it would have had a potential scholarship-losing effect, that would be a bad way for Orton to end his career. By all indications, Daniel is a good kid. He is very engaging in interviews and I have found him to be quite bright. But the reality is that Orton has given the staff a bit of trouble this year, and has been more of a headache than I would have expected. The rest of the Freshmen and Patrick Patterson are finishing out the school year because they know it is what is good for them and the program. If Orton left, it put the University in a tough situation and was not the right move.
My hope is Daniel changed his mind. But if he did not, the Three Amigos showed more loyalty to the UK basketball program than did Daniel.