With most everyone in the Bluegrass is thrilled about the news of the Daniel Orton commitment, the future looks bright for the UK basketball program. However the announcement itself yesterday was one of those surreal “only in Kentucky” type moments, that shows just how wonderfully eccentric UK basketball can be. The event was held at the Hyatt and was called rather quickly, with most media outlets receiving less than 2 hours notice. Due to some traffic issues (caused by something called “2S” which looked to be an excuse for old hippies to ride their bike and play hacky sack, I ended up actually getting their early, walking in to find a few UK fans already arrived, along with an angry looking (but very attractive) television reporter. As we all waited, more fans drifted in, Jerry Tipton showed up with security and members of the UK basketball team arrived to greet their future teammate. The entire scene was a cool reminder of the reach of Kentucky basketball and showcased what Kentucky offers that other schools do not.
When the actual press conference was to arrive, Orton came in the front door of the hotel, with a surprised look that anyone was there and was greeted to applause by the onlookers. Patrick Patterson screamed out, “Look its Daniel ORTON!, which got his teammates laughing and caused Orton to smile. Then Orton sat down in front of the microphones, ready to talk to the crowd….but unlike in your normal press conference setting, there was no one to tell Daniel when to begin. So for the next 45 seconds or so, you had a situation that I like to call “Matt Jones High School Dates” in which both parties just stared at each other with nothing to say. The media (which consisted of Brett Dawson, Jeff Drummond, Jerry Tipton and a red-hooded sweatshirt wearing Matt Jones) awaited Daniel to talk and Daniel seemed to be awaiting a signal to start. Everyone just stared at each other awkwardly for an uncomfortable amount of time until Tipton, looking fine in his Sunday shorts, with a fatherly tone told Daniel he could begin.
Orton, while looking nervous, handled himself remarkably well, announcing that he was going to Kentucky, as the room burst into cheers. He gave a statement, then handled a number of questions from the assembled group of handsome strangers, each time answering the question directly and giving good information. You cant help but to like this kid, both on and off the court and the press conference just reinforced that belief. He is more than humble, but also isnt afraid to say that in the class of 2009, he ranks very high. He will be a fan favorite in Lexington, just like his host Patrick Patterson, and like with Pat, it was great to see him handle his first take of Kentucky life.
Below is the video newscast from Channel 18 last night (that may be the attractive reporter anchoring at the very beginning) of the festivities. It was a good scene yesterday, but here is hoping that the next commitment takes place at the Hilton…..then we can all go eat at Regatta and have their stupendous bread: