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Daniel Orton Knows He Helped Pave the Path for the Calipari-Era

(Photo via Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

(Photo via Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

Former Kentucky center Daniel Orton isn’t often credited with the success that has been crafted since John Calipari took over as the head coach of the Wildcats back in 2009, but he was a vital component in building the legacy that we see 10 years later.

Orton is back in Lexington this weekend, participating in The Basketball Tournament (located in the gymnasium of Frederick Douglass High School) on team Loyalty is Love, managed by former Wildcat teammate DeMarcus Cousins.

Orton doesn’t make his return with a massive NBA contract or significant interest from the Association, and he’s typically referenced after players such as John Wall, Cousins, Eric BledsoePatrick Patterson, and Darius Miller when we think about the 2010 Kentucky team. With that being said, he still understands the important role he played in building the program to where it is today.

“Talking to past teammates, you know we talk about everything: ‘We really started this’. We know this is long before us, Kentucky basketball was here before us, it’s gonna be here after us,” Orton told reporters following a morning practice at Frederick Douglass High School. “But, I feel like the Cal-era has been a changing point in the school’s history. It was pretty amazing to feel that.”

Plenty has changed since Orton’s year in the Bluegrass State. His eyes nearly popped out of his head when asked about the differences from his time on campus compared to now. He said he is “envious” of all these extra amenities, but is happy the new guys get to experience something that he was a part of building.

The 6-foot-10 big man averaged only 3.4 points and 3.3 rebounds in under 14 minutes per game during his lone season at Kentucky, but that didn’t prevent him from being selected in the first round by the Orlando Magic with the 29th overall pick. His selection capped what would turn out to be the only NBA draft in history to have five players from the same college selected in the first round.

Even if Orton’s production on the court during his freshman season was minimal, it was him being drafted despite all that, which might go down as one of Calipari’s most impressive feats. You can’t talk about the 2010 Kentucky team without mentioning Orton. And if you do, you’re doing history a disservice. He was the fifth five-star recruit from that class, the fifth first-round pick. He was a Billy Gillispie recruit that decided to stick around.

Knee injuries early in Orton’s career ravaged what could have been a long run in the professionals, but he’s back looking to showcase what he’s made of on national television.

When Cousins initially asked Orton if he wanted to play on his team, Orton jokingly responded by saying “You don’t have to ask. Just let me know I’m on the team.”

The Basketball Tournament will be broadcasted on ESPN3 throughout Friday, ESPN2 on Saturday, and ending with the final game on Sunday airing on ESPN. You can watch Orton and Loyalty is Love Friday night on ESPN3 at 5:00 p.m.

Article written by Zack Geoghegan

Covering all things NBA and UK Hoops. Follow me on Twitter: @ZGeogheganKSR

24 Comments for Daniel Orton Knows He Helped Pave the Path for the Calipari-Era

  1. 8XChamps
    3:11 pm July 19, 2019 Permalink

    He definitely wasn’t an important role, sorry!

  2. KYWildCatsFan
    3:22 pm July 19, 2019 Permalink

    About the only thing he has done is be a deciding factor for kids to leave after a year that have no business leaving.

  3. StuckinLville
    3:42 pm July 19, 2019 Permalink

    He is the only Cal player to leave during the school year which hurt the APR. Luckily, he didnt start a trend. He left before he should and he knows it.

  4. just a guy
    3:44 pm July 19, 2019 Permalink

    If you mean he showed everyone you can suck at basketball, and hurt the school by not finishing school work, but because you’re 6-10 get drafted, then yes he is a trailblazer

    • IndianaSucks
      9:06 pm July 19, 2019 Permalink

      But not not like a Portland Trailblazer…. Sorry, had to.

  5. just a guy
    3:46 pm July 19, 2019 Permalink

    Orton will always be part of the greatest day in UK basketball history, right Kyle?

    • Biggie
      7:45 pm July 19, 2019 Permalink

      Nice throwback to an earlier column!

  6. Cousins Fake Tooth
    4:44 pm July 19, 2019 Permalink

    He didn’t help do anything.

    • Ridge Runner
      5:45 pm July 19, 2019 Permalink

      Simply put & I agree..

  7. Ninjashock
    5:29 pm July 19, 2019 Permalink

    Orton is the only former UK player for whom I have absolutely no love. His thanks to the university for his season here was to bail on the spring semester and tank our APR. Only player I can remember who has done that.

  8. catsby.5
    5:31 pm July 19, 2019 Permalink

    What a joke, all Orton did was help negatively affect our APR and set a bad precedent for kids leaving too early, thankfully that that precedent hasn’t become the norm

    • brassnux66
      6:03 pm July 19, 2019 Permalink

      James Young, Dakari Johnson, Marques Teague…

    • 4everUKblue
      6:48 pm July 19, 2019 Permalink

      You think those 3 makes it the norm? Come on brassnux, surely you’re smarter than that.

  9. Ridge Runner
    5:53 pm July 19, 2019 Permalink

    I would remove this post to avoid any further embarrassment to be honest. There’s no spin that can be manufactured.

  10. brassnux66
    6:01 pm July 19, 2019 Permalink

    Poster child for all that’s wrong with “one and done” mentality

    • 4everUKblue
      6:46 pm July 19, 2019 Permalink

      Not all one and done’s make the right decision, I will guarantee you it has worked for more under Cal than for those it didn’t work for. What would you do if you had a shot at millions? I’m sure you’d rather get a degree than maybe make millions while chasing your dream.

  11. UKCatAttack
    6:07 pm July 19, 2019 Permalink

    There is a reason no one mentions Orton with Wall, Cousins, Bledsoe, and Patterson. It’s because he didn’t contribute, was insignificant to the outcome of the season, and bailed on the school for his own personal gain. I think he did shape the future by showing Cal the kind of guys not to recruit to our program which is proven by the fact that not a single player has bailed on their academics since Daniel Orton. Zack you are doing a disservice to history because you are creating what is call revisionist history.

  12. rdcore2
    6:32 pm July 19, 2019 Permalink

    I think the 11+ other people on here are all exactly what’s wrong (it actually anything- spoiler there’s not) with Kentucky basketball. You guys complain about literally everything because you have nothing better going in your lives so you come here to vent because your wife no longer sleeps with you. It’s sad really. I’m glad Orton came and I’m glad he chose the path he felt was right for him. That’s what Cal preaches and sorry it doesn’t match up for all you losers. His path isn’t yours (mainly bc you couldn’t hold his jock strap). Thanks Orton for your tenure and for shaping what has become a pretty incredible 10 year run of Kentucky basketball to watch. Kick rocks Kyle Macy and fairwhether fans who complain about “loyalty” and then come here to sandbag 18 year old recruits and ex players for making decisions about their future that doesn’t fit their narrative. Losers

    • StuckinLville
      8:31 pm July 19, 2019 Permalink

      I think ur blind to the fact he is the only player to walk out on the school. Truth’s truth. It doesnt make us bad fans. It makes us want players who appreciate comin to Kentucky and we have had many, many of those.

    7:01 pm July 19, 2019 Permalink

    LOL…Daniel didn’t do SH*T

  14. kjd
    10:47 pm July 19, 2019 Permalink

    Orton was absolutely a non-factor. Period.

  15. ukkatzfan
    8:49 am July 20, 2019 Permalink

    Once a Cat, always a Cat. Ignore the Haters Mr Orton. They are just jealous squeaky wheels commenting for a response.

  16. Larkin123
    9:27 am July 20, 2019 Permalink

    He was just a kid… and knee was a problem in season and cal knew it!

  17. TrumanClaytor>BoLanter
    10:33 am July 20, 2019 Permalink

    He was a selfish punk, top 5 least favorite KY player all time. My guess is Cal would have never offered him a scholly.