As we continue to count down the days till the NBA Draft on one hand and look forward to the new arrivals of UK Freshmen on the other, it can be easy to forget about those returning for the UK basketball team. We know about Jorts and Hood’s Chinese adventure, Darius Miller has a starting spot and we all wish for the improvement of Deandre Liggins. But the person that is easy to forget is the man who was supposed to shoot threes like rain, Darnell Dodson. Soon after the season, I was told by a very good source that the chances of Darnell Dodson returning were “about the same as the chances of you being hired in the UL basketball office.” Dodson had made a couple of mistakes during the year, had academic issues he needed to take care of and seemed to not be a fit for the team next year. In fact, the working assumption for most around the team was that he was already gone and was simply finishing up the school year to stay eligible.
But then Darnell got a death row pardon, and it was not a minute too late. For reasons that still arent clear, the position on Dodson changed and he looks to have a good chance of returning next season. Calipari said in a recent blog entry that Darnell had some things he needed to get done this summer, but he was still mentioned as a part of the team next year. While we may never know what caused the “Dodson is gone, Dodson is now back” change, what we can speculate is what impact Darnell may have next season. Unlike last year, he wont be the only player on the team with a reputation as a shooter, thanks to the addition of Doron Lamb. While Darnell often struggled, when hot (especially early in the year), he could put up points. But he now faces competition from Lamb, who is not only a good shooter, but is well-rounded in all phases of the game.
Of all the players on the team last season, I probably had the most personal disappointment in Dodson. When Jodie Meeks left, what the team needed was one guy to be a knockdown shooter. However Darnell’s consistency wasnt there and his defense was often so poor that the coaches could not leave him in to try and allow him to warm up. If Dodson shows a work ethic this summer, he can help next season. The DDO needs shooters and Darnell is still either the first or second best option. But he has to improve on all other aspects, focus in the classroom and (most importantly) get serious off the court. If all that happens, Dodson’s UK career will not go the way of Rekalin Sims, Rashaad Carruth, Adam Chiles, Corey Sears and other “one and done for not good reasons” UK players. Heres hoping he does the work necessary to achieve that goal.